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

New PBS web only social studies series on pbskidsgo.org this fall

Coming this fall exclusively to PBSKIDSGO.org, WILSON & DITCH: DIGGING AMERICA, produced by The Jim Henson Company, invites kids ages 6 to 10 on a cross country adventure with two comical gophers as they explore America’s most famous (and perhaps not-so-famous) destinations. While learning about American culture, history and geography, brothers Wilson and Ditch ride in style in their green-powered van, sharing experiences and real world resources for families as they visit some of the country’s top cities, national parks and attractions. Funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), the project for PBSKIDSGO.org includes original online video and interactive games as well as blogs and podcasts posted by the brothers. PBSKIDS.org receives an average of 9 million unique visitors per month and the PBS KIDS GO! video player delivers an average of 1.3 million streams per week. The announcement was made today at the annual Television Critics Association summer press tour.

The new Web site continues The Jim Henson Company and PBS’s strong relationship in building curriculum-rich content including the PBS KIDS® preschool series SID THE SCIENCE KID and the upcoming DINOSAUR TRAIN. “We know kids will enjoy exploring the amazing places featured on the site and we hope they’ll get inspired to visit and discover these destinations with their own families,” said Halle Stanford, Executive Vice President of Children’s Entertainment for The Jim Henson Company. “The Internet – and specifically PBSKIDSGO.org – has become a destination for millions of kids to play and learn about the world. As they travel the country with Wilson and Ditch, our audience will gain a greater understanding of their national citizenship that extends beyond their own community.”

Animated webisodes will star Wilson and Ditch (performed by Brian Henson and Paul Rugg) and will be brought to life using the Emmy® Award-winning Henson Digital Puppetry Studio, a proprietary technology that allows performers to puppeteer and voice digitally animated characters in real time. In addition to the webisodes, travel blog and on-location audio podcasts, Wilson and Ditch’s new site will also feature original comics from the brothers’ adventures.

“Not every child has the opportunity to physically explore the United States,” said Lesli Rotenberg, SVP, Children’s Media, PBS. “Wilson and Ditch are funny guides who take early elementary school kids on an adventure to see parts of the country that they might have never known existed. PBS KIDS GO! is designed to cultivate a love of learning and expand possibilities for every child both in and out of the classroom. As the most trusted educational media brand, it’s a priority to continue to offer this age group something that will not only make them laugh but enrich their everyday learning.”

“We’ve seen tremendous growth on the Web this past year — so much so that PBS KIDS regularly finishes in the top three of all U.S. kids’ sites and PBS.org last year surpassed all commercial television network sites in visits,” added Jason Seiken, SVP, PBS Interactive. “Much of this growth has been driven by new features such as our video hub (PBS.org/video) and our kids’ video hub (PBSKIDSGO.org/video). The next phase of our growth strategy involves aggressive plans for original Web content, including high-quality series such as WILSON & DITCH: DIGGING AMERICA.”

WILSON AND DITCH: DIGGING AMERICA was created by Joe Purdy (story editor of DINOSAUR TRAIN and SID THE SCIENCE KID) and Craig Bartlett (creator of DINOSAUR TRAIN and HEY ARNOLD!). The Web site will be written by Purdy and its animated segments will be directed by Bartlett. Bartlett will also create the site’s original comic strip material.

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