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

Archive for January, 2008

Podcasting Dragonfly; Raggs comes to APT

Thursday, January 31st, 2008

Want to join the podcasting fun? DragonflyTV podcasts are available for downloading now to watch individual DragonflyTV segments. When you subscribe, you’ll get new episodes delivered to you weekly. If you have iTunes, click here to add DragonflyTV podcasts to your playlist: http://pbskids.org/dragonflytv/rss/DragonFlyTV_rss.xml

American Public Television (APT), the second largest supplier of television shows to public broadcast stations, will begin offering the new children’s musical series “Raggs” on February 4, 2008. The series stars five colorful canines – Raggs, Trilby, Pido, B. Max and Razzles – who play in a rock ‘n’ roll band and live together in a clubhouse with their wisecracking pet cat, Dumpster. The innovative format features live costumed characters, animated segments, interviews with children and music videos. Dr. Sholly Fisch, former VP of Program Research at Sesame Workshop, directs “Raggs” educational content which reinforces preschool academic and pro-social themes.

Captivating music lies at the core of “Raggs,” with more than 200 original rockin’ songs that educate as well as entertain children and parents. The Raggs concept evolved from the success of The Raggs Band, which has played over 3,000 live concerts on four continents since 2001. Performances include three overseas tours for Armed Forces Entertainment and three trips to The White House.
The nation’s most-watched public broadcaster, San Francisco’s KQED, added “Raggs” to its award-winning list of successful shows in June 2007. “When we began airing ‘Raggs’ as a test, we bookended it in the schedule with ‘Curious George’ and ‘Dragon Tales,’ two of public broadcasting’s most successful titles,” says Scott Walton, KQED Executive Director of Communications. “In August, ‘Raggs’ ratings exceeded both titles 13 out of 20 days. We have been amazed at the overwhelming public support for ‘Raggs’ and know that it will delight audiences across America.”
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Marie Osmond Announces New Syndicated Talk Show at NATPE

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

At a surprise NATPE press conference in Las Vegas today, one of America’s most beloved stars, Marie Osmond, announced her latest venture as host of a new entertainment/lifestyle talk show, Marie. Program Partners will offer the hour-long television series in syndication beginning in fall 2009.

“I’ve always wanted to do a show for women,” said Osmond, “that would offer them a safe place to have some fun and get vital information. ‘Marie’ will truly reflect my personality — funny, sometimes serious and never predictable.”

Osmond first won the hearts of fans as co-host of the popular ABC television variety program, The Donny & Marie Show. She has achieved tremendous success as a recording artist, performed on Broadway, made the New York Times bestselling authors list, established herself as an entrepreneur with her highly successful Marie Osmond Collectible Doll line and co-founded one of the largest children’s charities in the world, the Children’s Miracle Network, which has raised over $3.2 billion dollars in support of children’s hospitals across North America. Most recently, she danced her way into the hearts of fans on the hit television show Dancing with the Stars.

Program Partners, Inc. is an innovative television company that collaborates with networks, sponsors and audiences on original programming. Led by a core group of entertainment executives, including founders Ritch Colbert and Josh Raphaelson, Program Partners provides distinctive programs with high production values, while fostering new creative alliances with advertisers, broadcasters and global co-production entities. For more info about Program Partners, Inc., visit http://www.programpartners.com/

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What’s Coming Up in Children’s TV – Report from NATPE

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

Whew, there are so many more TV shows than DVDs out here. As I began my meetings yesterday at the 45th Annual NATPE Conference in chilly Las Vegas yesterday, the excitement of all the new shows being pitched here to US and foreign distribution outlets grew as the day wore on.

The show officially opens this morning but yesterday provided a good opportunity to meet with people as they were setting up and settling in for the show. Monday also featured a full day of discussion on mobile entertainment, examining everything from who the players are to how to attract users to our property to how you can capitalize on the $5 million mobile market that is reaching a supposed 11.8 million subscribers in the U.S. alone. More on that later.

I visited with our friends at Allumination Filmworks who will be bringing three of our favorite TV shows into the DVD market this year – “Franny’s Feet,” “The Saddle Club” and “Hip Hop Harry.” They’ll also be introducing a new show to both TV and DVD, “Piper Penguin and His Fantastic Flying Machines.” We haven’t seen that one yet but will be reviewing it soon. If its as cute as is sounds, we’ll all enjoy it.

One of the emerging new companies, Cilantro Animation talked with me about a new show they are pitching to the Latino audience. “Usuy” is the tale of an Inca boy from Peru who tries to help his family fit into contemporary U.S. culture. His stories blend a bit of geographical and historical elements into them as they are shown in 3D animation. Good luck at the show Cilantro. We hope to see your show on-air soon, and in our film festivals. Salvatore Cavalieri, Founder and CEO of Cilantro Animation Studios commented, “
“The Spanish market has been lumped into a big bucket, and that doesn’t serve the market properly. Who’s your audience, what is their age, what are they consuming, what are they watching, what technology are they using, where do they come from historically? If you don’t know that, you won’t be able to stay connected to your customers and your audience and grow your business.”

Cookie Jar Entertainment, from Toronto, has a lot of new programs in the pot. The company that has brought you such award-winning shows as “Caillou,” “Arthur” and “Doodlebops” – all of which KIDS FIRST! has endorsed and shown in our Festivals – has quite a line-up, including: “Hurray for Huckle!” based on Richard Scarry’s books and one of every preschooler’s favorite towns, Busytown. Each episode is based around the characters from the books and explores an answer to a mini-mystery. “Noonbory” is a co-production with a Korean company and another preschool property. Set in the enchanting, technicolorful world of Boryland, the energetic Borys are young people who possess very special and powerful skills. Essentially, they are super sense superheroes who use their heightened senses to playfully save the day. It sounds a bit wacky but fun. “Will and Dewitt” is playing now on Kids WB for an older audience of four- to eight-year-olds. Dewitt is Will’s shape-shifting frog-type friend who helps Will do the things he does – even when he thinks he can’t. “Magi-Nation” sounds like a cross between “Lord of the Rings” and “Ferngully.” Now playing on Kids WB in the U.S. and CBC in Canada, it’s the story of a young teen, Tony Jones who finds himself mysteriously transported to the magical world of Magi-Nation. He befriends two young Magi Heroes-in-training who join him on a journey to defeat the evil Shadow Magi who are out to rule their world. During their adventures they discover some secrets about themselves as well. Next, “Johnny Test” now playing on the Cartoon Network in the U.S. and Teletoon in Canada is an action comedy for eight- to twelve-year-olds. The story chronicles the adventures of a fearless 11-year-old boy, his genetically engineered super dog Cukey and his 13-year-old super genius scientist twin sisters, Susan and Mary who use Johnny as their guinea pig for their out-of-this world scientific experiments. Last, “World of Quest” is a comedic action series for ages eight to 12 that follows young Prince Nestor on a mission to save his parents with his amazing muscled protector Quest by his side. It will air on WB starting in March and Teletoon in Canada. I promise that we’ll tell you more about these shows once we’ve had the opportunity to fully review them.

Last, from Viz Media, is the cute preschool show “Deko Boko & Friends.” It’s a different kind of format, only 30 seconds in length and it’s focus is about diversity and tolerance. Trailers of the show can be found at dekobokofriends.com and treehousetv.com.

Most of these shows will be coming into KIDS FIRST! for further evaluation and for play at our KIDS FIRST! Film Festivals. Stay tooned for more info!

Hear what executives are saying about NATPE:
Bruce David Klein, President & Exec Producer, Atlas Media Corp
Laurie Scheer, Media Consultant/Pitching CoachJim Pitaro, VP & GM, Yahoo! Sports

Shelly Lazarus Keynote Address

Sneak peak at tomorrow: Jeff Berman, EVP Marketing & Content, Myspace.com Bob Pittman, Founding Member, The Pilot Group Hear what executives are saying about NATPE: Jordan Hoffner, Head of Content Partnership, YouTubePhil Gurin, President/Exec Producer, The Gurin CompanyJohn Saade, SVP Alternative Series, Specials & Late Night, ABC TelevisionDmitry Shapiro, Founder/CIO, Veoh Networks (Digital Briefing participant)

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NATPE Sessions available on DVd

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

If you didn’t get to NATPE and want to take advantage of the sage advice presented by seasoned professionals, visit the NATPE website where you can order DVDs of most sessions.

NATPE 2008 Conference Sessions – Shipping Feb. 19th
Opening Address – Keynote + Q&AKeynote; by Jeff Zucker, President & CEO, NBC Universal

Here Today, There Tomorrow

Station BreaksThe New Distribution Model for Local Television

How We Got HereThe Talk Show

There’s No Such Thing as a Free Lunch

Yes, You CAN Teach Old Media New Media Tricks

Wall Street Gives Guidance

Possibilites and Perils of Internet TV

Alternative ProgrammingThe Real Deal

The Digital Living Room

In Conversation: Joe UvaJoe Uva, CEO, Univision Communications, Inc.

In Conversation: Donald BrowneDonald Browne, President, Telemundo Communications, Inc.

Mobile ContentWhat’s Hot? What’s New? What’s Next?

Various Shades of VOD/EST

Local TV’s Answer to Wall StreetGenerating Digital Bucks

Programming Goes GreenTune in and Take Action

EuropeThe Launching Pad for Formats Success

The New Digital Reality

Beyond the TelenovelaOriginal Latin American Programming

Reshaping the Advertising Measurement Ecosystem

and more… 45 total

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NATPE’S Mobile Conference Spotlights $5 Billion Business Opportunity

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

700+ Industry Insiders and Visionaries Brainstorm Gaming, Social Networking and Other Hot Mobile Applications at NATPE Mobile++

The National Association of Television Program Executives (NATPE) announced highlights from its fourth annual NATPE Mobile++ event, held yesterday at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas. This year’s event featured more than 700 attendees worldwide from the entire mobile content value chain, including content owners, mobile aggregators, distributors, producers, mobile operators and marketers. Mobile video continues to be a major, long-term opportunity in the U.S. market, according to a presentation by Mark Donovan, senior analyst at M:Metrics.

The number of Americans who watched mobile video grew 60% between January 2007 and November 2007, Donovan said. The firm’s research also found that the movie trailers, music videos, sports action or news, comedy and weather currently are the content types most popular with mobile users. “NATPE Mobile++ is all about mobile content – no distractions from other areas of the mobile universe, no fluff, just concise, actionable insights from mobile content’s leaders and innovators,” said Rick Feldman, President/CEO, NATPE. “That’s why, in four short years, NATPE Mobile++ already has the reputation as a must-attend event for those looking for opportunities in the $5 billion mobile content market.”

Also during the event, John Hadl, managing director and founder of BrandinHand stated, “Mobile offers a closer to purchase opportunity for advertisers. Mobile allows advertisers to reach consumers you can’t otherwise reach, it also offers scale to reach consumers and interact with them to ultimately generate a long-standing relationship.” Designed to provide a concise overview of the mobile content marketplace, as well as opportunities to network with the industry’s best and brightest, this year’s NATPE Mobile++ event featured presentations from leaders such as AT&T; Mobility, BrandinHand, Google, MTV Networks, Nielsen Mobile, SK Telecom, Sprint and Yahoo.

The event also included the first-ever NATPE Mobile++ Top 12 Awards, which showcase innovation and excellence in the mobile content marketplace, as selected by an interdisciplinary jury comprised of leading digital media executives and the programming team of NATPE Mobile++. For a list of winners, visit http://www.natpemobile.com/.

NATPE is a global, nonprofit organization dedicated to the creation, development and distribution of televised programming in all forms across all mature and emerging media platforms. NATPE develops and nurtures opportunities, both commercial and educational, for buying, selling and sharing of content and ideas.

ACHILLES MEDIA LTD. is the management organization that manages the NATPE Mobile++. Achilles Media also produces the nextMEDIA events, the Banff World Television Festival and the History Makers International Summit of History and Current Affairs Producers. Achilles Media undertakes the organization of prime international events as well as training and development opportunities for content creators and other professionals in the television and new media
Jeff Zucker Keynote Address

NATPE 2008 Opening VideoLegacy Awards Opening Video Sneak peak at tomorrow: Cecile Frot-Coutaz, CEO, FremantleMedia North America Shelly Lazarus, Chairman & CEO, Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide Hear what executives are saying about NATPE: Joe Jasin, VP Corporate Development, SK Telecom USAEmerson Coleman, NATPE Co-Chair/VP Programming, Hearst Argyle TelevisionWoody Fraser, Producer, Woody Fraser ProductionsMichael Kernan, Co Head New Media & Bus Aff, ICMJonathan Leess, President/GM, CBS Digital Media Group/CBS TV Stations Matt Wasserlauf, CEO, and Bryon Evje, COO, Broadband Enterprises (Digital Briefing participants)

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Black History Month

Thursday, January 24th, 2008

This February, PBS KIDS GO! honors Black History Month by highlighting educational opportunities available on-air and online for kids to learn about African American role models and their contributions to the world.

Every Friday throughout February, PBS KIDS GO! will air “GO! Figures” – a series of interesting facts about influential African Americans. These pop-up facts will air during PBS KIDS GO! programs throughout the month. Samples include:

  • Did you know Thurgood Marshall was the first black American Justice to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court?
  • Did you know the author Toni Morrison became the first black American to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature?
  • Did you know over 125 years ago, Cathy Williams was the first recorded black American female to serve in the United States Army?

    Online, pbskidsgo.org highlights Black History Month content, available year-round, to provide interactive learning activities beyond broadcast.

  • African America World (pbskids.org/aaworld) – This website features a matching game that teaches facts about the contributions of African Americans, as well as custom e-cards kids can create and send to their friends.
  • The Inequality Quiz (pbskids.org/wayback/fair/index) – Kids can play games such as the Inequity Quiz where two players square off to show what they know about fairness in America.
  • Stand up for your Rights (pbskids.org/wayback/civilrights/features) – Read an interview with Melba Patillo Beals, one of the “Little Rock Nine,” the first African American students to attend Little Rock’s Central High; and learn more about brave Americans who have stood up for their rights throughout history.
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