Up to date information about children’s entertainment – film, TV, DVD and more…. from founder and president of KIDS FIRST! Ranny Levy

Archive for June, 2008

Cookie Jar Entertainment

Tuesday, June 10th, 2008

Cookie Jar Entertainment is, without a doubt, one of the leading producers of outstanding children’s TV shows for today’s youth. I met with Kirsten Hurd, Sales Executive for Cookie Jar at NAPTE earlier this year and was awed by not just what they have done to date but what is on the docket. Among their list of winning shows are PBS favorites: “Caillou,” “Postcards from Buster” and “Arthur.” Then there is “The Doodlebops” which plays on the Disney Channel, amd “Are You Afraid of the Dark,” “The Adventures of Paddington Bear,” and “Wimzie’s House” which have all been hailed by KIDS FIRST! They have a host of new shows, some appearing in the U.S. and others, coming soon that includes: “Hurray for Huckle!,” “World of Quest,” “Will & Dewitt” (just picked up by Discovery Kids Latin America), and “Magi-Nation.” Impressive line up, si no!

First, a little history about this company which was formed in March 2004, when leading children’s entertainment executives Michael Hirsh and Toper Taylor, teamed up to buy Cinar and founded the Cookie Jar Group. Together with noted educational publishing executives Steve and Patti Carson, and Scott McCaw, they forged a unique company focused on enhancing the lives of children at home and at school.

You couldn’t find better visionaries than Toper Taylor and Michael Hirsh. Taylor is among the most respected executives in children’s entertainment having led the development, production, distribution and marketing of a multitude of new productions together with leading broadcasters in the U.S. At Nelvana, his guidance helped the company forge relationships with all the major studios, develop ancillary product lines with toy and book manufactures. Hirsh’s career in children’s entertainment began in 1971 when he co-founded Nelvana and helped drive it to become a world-class animation company. He also co-founded Teletoon, Canada’s leading animation network.

Headquartered in Toronto, Cookie Jar Group has teams located around the globe with offices in Los Angeles, London, Paris, Tokyo, Montreal, Boston, Chicago, Providence, Santa Fe, Greensboro and Charlotte. In a relatively short period of time Cookie Jar Entertainment has become one of the most successful, innovative and popular entertainment content producers of our time.

Here’s a list of Cookie Jar’s “edutainment” shows currently available in the U.S.

Doodlebops – the rockin’ band that sings, dances and laughs through a series of fun and funny adventures with band members Deedee, Rooney and Moe. The Doodlebops are always up for a good time and never pass up the opportunity to sing and dance. The ultimate rock and roll band, The Doodlebops hang out and practice their song and dance routines in the coolest rehearsal space imaginable and go from gig to gig in the world’s most rockin’ tour bus!

Caillou. Growing up is the greatest adventure, especially when you are 4 years old. Each Caillou episode is about a simple everyday life situation that feels so BIG to a child. It’s about discovery and imagination. Watching Caillou helps children feel empowered and inspired. What Caillou does in the episodes reflects what every child does in their day-to-day lives. Caillou is an everyday hero and “a kid just like me.”

Arthur – the smash hit series is a worldwide sensation and winner of four Emmy® Awards for Outstanding Children’s Animated Program. Based on the best-selling books by Marc Brown, Arthur follows the adventures and misadventures of an irresistible eight-year-old aardvark whose charm is simple — he’s just a regular kid.

Will & Dewitt. The trouble with being a kid is that there seems to be a lot more things that you can’t do than things you can do! Sometimes you just need that extra boost of confidence to push you along. Will, an everyday kid who wants to do it all, is able to jump into new situations with a little help from his best friend, cheerleader and morphing pal, Dewitt (who just happens to be a frog). Together Will & Dewitt are ready to make a big splash in the world.

Gerald McBoing Boing is a collection of hilarious adventures packed into high-energy 11-minute episodes. Gerald is a precocious six-year-old boy who makes himself heard using sounds instead of words. Gerald’s world is filled with non-stop “gags!” and “giggles.” Gerald McBoing Boing is based on the character created by Theodor Geisel also known as Dr. Seuss, the best-selling children’s author of such classics as “The Cat in the Hat” and “Green Eggs and Ham.”

Magi-Nation, one of the new properties has a spin-off online web-based game, “Magi-Nation: Battle for the Moonlands.” This free game features a user-friendly menu system that enables players to quickly manage their items, spells and creature collection. The intuitive interface encourages players to take control of the game experience as they seek to become the best magi in all the Moonlands. Fans can register and play the game at http://www.magi-nation.net/. In addition to the online role-playing game and series, they have a new Trading Card Game that will come out this fall as well as DVDs and a Nintendo DS Game currently in the works.

Research Examines Link Between Children’s Media Use and Sleep Problems

Monday, June 9th, 2008

Pediatricians have long stressed the important role that sleep plays in ensuring children’s physical and mental well-being, with inadequate sleep linked to everything from obesity to aggression to hyperactivity in children. However, research shows that most children and adolescents do not get enough high-quality sleep, and that their sleep times appear to have declined over the last two decades. Coinciding with this trend has been the rise in popularity of new media forms including the Internet, video games, cell phones and DVDs. Because of the immediacy and interactivity of these new technologies, young people are using media at times and in ways that might interfere with sleep quantity and quality. To help inform this health issue, the Kaiser Family Foundation has released a new research brief that examines different aspects of how media use may impact sleep. The brief reviews and summarizes the limited body of research on this topic, including studies on whether media use directly displaces sleep, and how media content can have either an exciting or calming effect on children.The brief also highlights key unanswered questions that emerge from the prior studies on children’s media use and sleep. For instance, little is known about the effects of using media as a sleep-aid for children. There is also a lack of information about whether new forms of media affect sleep differently from traditional forms. Finally, many questions remain about the potential long-term effects of media use on sleep and whether children’s media habits are reversible.The research brief is available online at http://www.kff.org/entmedia/7674.cfm . For more information, please contact Rob Graham at [email protected] or (650) 854-9400.

McDonalds teams with DreamWorks Animation

Friday, June 6th, 2008

A new Kung Fu Panda Happy Meal promotion launches at the Golden Arches starting June 6 and running through July 3, followed by a global rollout, to coincide with the release of the movie. Kids will receive one of eight different Kung Fu Panda character figures in their Happy Meals. Additional information about pandas and their environment is provided through a partnership with Conservation International, including a “panda-cam” that offers visitors a look at pandas in their natural habitats. Their website site also features Kung Fu Panda themed games, adventures, activities and dance demos.

Alex’s Lemonade Stand at Mall of America®

Thursday, June 5th, 2008
Every day in the United States, an average of 36 children are diagnosed with cancer. Aiming to find a cure for childhood cancer, Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation is challenging all 50 states to hold lemonade stands in honor of Alexandra “Alex” Scott, who died from Neuroblastoma, including one at Mall of America® on June 8. Money raised from suggested donations for lemonade will go toward childhood cancer research.

In July 2000, 4-year-old cancer patient Alex and her older brother, Patrick, set up the first “Alex’s Lemonade Stand for Childhood Cancer” on their front lawn. Although Alex lost her battle with cancer on Aug. 1, 2004, she was able to raise $1 million for the cause. Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation has raised more than $18 million for childhood cancer research, funding more than 50 research projects nationally. This year there will be over 2000 stands nationwide. All of the stands are run by families who have been affected by Neuroblastoma Cancer.

The fourth annual event at Mall of America will feature three Tropicana Lemonade stands and performances by Studio 4 dancers. The dancers will perform their award winning dance numbers that will be featured at the Showbiz National Competition this June in Orlando, Fla. This year the Minnesota stand hopes to raise $10,000. Studio 4 has created a first-giving website to raise money online for those who cannot make it to the event at www.firstgiving.com/dancingforlemonade

WHEN: Sunday, June 8, 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.

WHERE: Mall of America – Rotunda

Mall of America is the nation’s largest retail and entertainment complex. The 4.2 million square foot complex is home to more than 520 world-class shops; Nickelodeon Universe, the nation’s largest indoor family amusement park; Underwater Adventures® Aquarium, a 1.2 million gallon walk-though aquarium; a 14-screen movie theater and more. The Mall opened in August of 1992 and is located in Bloomington, Minn., just minutes from downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul. For more information visit mallofamerica.com

Kenny The Shark: Catch A Wave Coming Out on June 3

Sunday, June 1st, 2008

Hang ten with Discovery Kids’ human-friendly shark when Kenny the Shark: Catch a Wave is released on DVD June 3rd. This is the 3rd volume of the Kenny the Shark series, which continues to attract loyal fans on the Discovery Kids Channel. A two-time Environmental Media Award Nominee for Children’s Animated Series in 2004 and 2005, Kenny the Shark allows kids to absorb a wealth of fun fish facts by sinking their teeth into the daily adventures of a loveable Tiger Shark.

In Catch a Wave, Kenny and his human friend Kat make waves in and out of the water as they learn how to surf, create home movies and discover special talents. The DVD includes Kenny’s Home Movie: Attack of the Flying Sharks featuring real-life shark footage from Discovery’s “Shark Week” and a special bonus episode of Growing Up Creepie.

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