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

Archive for March, 2008

News – Kids Choice Awards, NEA’s Read Across America and More

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008
Kids’ Choice Awards 2008 (www.nick.com/kca) The companion website to Nickelodeon’s Kids’ Choice Awards allows children to cast their votes for favorite TV show, book series, and song as well as several other categories. The site also features video clips, quizzes, games, and more.

As part of NEA’s annual Read Across America project (highlighted at http://www.smarttelevisionalliance.org/site/PageServer?pagename=bunnytown), Disney Channel produced a Public Service Announcement exclusively for Smart Television Alliance promoting reading with characters from the comedic hit Playhouse Disney series for preschoolers, “Bunnytown.”

The PBS Kids competition show Design Squad is premiering an all-new season of innovative engineering and design challenges on April 2. The first ep kicks off with an IKEA challenge.

Last Saturday, March 15, Nickelodeon and Mall of America opened the doors to Nickelodeon Universe, a seven-acre theme park featuring 18 new Nick-themed rides and attractions. Located in the center of Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn, the park’s grand opening celebration featureed appearances by TEENick talent, including Miranda Cosgrove from iCarly, and multiplatinum recording artist Ashlee Simpson. It was one of the most successful days in the parks 16-year history with attendance the largest crowd in the amusement park since the opening weeks of Mall of America back in 1992. Over the weekend they gave more than 125,000 rides. All rides were in operation throughout the day with a wait line at each attraction.

Nick Jr. will premiere four episodes of its new series Ni Hao, Kai-lan, the week of Monday-Thursday, March 24-27 at 11a, followed by a series marathon on Friday, March 28 (11a-1p). The Chinese language (Mandarin) and culture focused series, Ni Hao, Kai-lan premiered on the network last month.

Actress/singer Raven-Symone kicks off her Pajama Party concert tour from April 26. The tour will travel to 55 US cities and features guest stars Mitchel Muss (from Hannah Montana), B5 (of Get’cha Head in the Game fame) and Clique Girlz. The tour supports the release of Raven-Symone’s self-titled album from Hollywood Records that is set to drop April 29, and includes a cover of the song Double Dutch Bus, which is also featured in her current movie College Road Trip.

Witness the heartwarming and marvelous journey as newborn cubs find their way through the joys, adventures, discoveries and challenges of their first days with the help of some professional caregivers in Animal Planet: Growing Up Wild Cats, a big cat-themed collection of episodes from Animal Planet’s popular series, debuting on DVD April 1st. The DVD includes four complete episodes: “Growing Up Lion,” “Growing Up Tiger,” “Growing Up Cheetah,” and “Growing Up Black Leopard.” Each installment features rescued or orphaned cubs and the compassionate caretakers who nurture them as they venture into adulthood. From bottle feedings, first steps and first bath to learning how to swim, these bold and bouncy babies discover how to adapt to their newly adopted homes while at the same time learning how to survive with other big cats.

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The Seeker Comes to DVD March 18

Monday, March 17th, 2008

Based on ohe critically-acclaimed children’s book series, “The Seeker” will be released on DVD March 18.

Will Stanton, a young man who learns he is the last of a group of warriors who have dedicated their lives to fighting the forces of the Dark, travels back and forth through time. Will discovers a series of clues which lead him into a showdown with forces of unimaginable power. With The Dark rising, the future of the world rests in Will’s hands.

This is an action adventure film that will keep you on the edge of your seat almost from the get go. Based on Susan Cooper’s book, “Dark is Rising” for which she won both a Newbery Award and a Carnegie medal in 1974. Although die-hard devotees to the book are likely to be unsatisfied with the changes in the storyline, for those who don’t have that issue this is an awesome movie. Alexander Ludwig’s portrayer of Will is believable even if he seems to be pulled into a role that he doesn’t relish undertaking. The missing elements to the screenplay that connect the story to British folklore are indeed missing but the special effects that bring snakes to life and collapse the glass solarium with a flood of water make this compete with the likes of recent movie releases of the Harry Potter and Chronicles of Narnia books. It helps to remember that logistically, screenplay has so fewer pages than a novel so you can never include all the elements of a great book in a film. It’s violence level is pretty tame for today’s pre-teens and teens but certainly there are enough scary elements to give younger viewers nightmares and fears.

“The Seeker” features an impressive cast of film and television veterans including Golden Globeâ-winners Ian McShane (“Deadwood”) and Frances Conroy (“Six Feet Under”) as well as Gregory Smith (“Everwood”) and sci-fi fan favorite Christopher Eccleston (“Dr. Who,” “Heroes”). Winner of numerous family-friendly honors including the KIDS FIRST! First Seal of Approval.

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Mr. Men Jumps from Page to Screen on Cartoon Network

Sunday, March 9th, 2008

Have you seen the New Mr. Men Show? This delightful TV Series airs on the Cartoon Network and is based on the Mr. Men books created in the 1970s by Roger Hargreaves. According to urban mythology, Hargreaves drew the initiative prototype character after his son asked him what a “tickle” looked like. He drew an orange blob with extremely long arms and la voila, Mr. Tickle was born. Hargreaves is now one of the best-selling authors in the U.K.; the Mr. Men and Little Miss books have sold more than 100 million copies – nothing to frown at.

The TV show was created by Chorion Silver Linings’ executive producers, Diana Manson and Kurt Mueller as well as writers Eryk Casemiro and Kate Boutilier. I had the pleasure of chatting with them a couple of weeks ago about the show and about the work that Chorion Silver Lining is doing.

First of all, let me tell you what an impressive duo these two are. Diana Manson has worked in the entertainment business in some way, shape or form in Australia, UK and the US for 25 years. She has run a record label, a music publishing company, been an on-air radio announcer, producer on- and off- the West End in London, toured rock bands and produced albums. Along the way, she segued into children’s television, founded Silver Lining Productions, sold it to Chorion and moved to the US where she became EVP Creative and Development for Chorion Silver Lining Productions.

Kurt Mueller served as VP of Creative Development at Sesame Workshop where he worked his magic in bringing together creative teams of writers, producers, animators and authors to create interesting shows. Some of the properties he has developed are: “The Upside Down Show,” “Pinky Dinky Doo,” and “Sponk” -the first ever improvised comedy series for tweens.

One of the “secrets of their success,” according to Ms. Manson and Mr. Mueller is that they look for strong book properties that have an established audience and will adapt well to television. When asked how important it is that the properties perform in other arenas – ie. Mobile telecasting, Internet, etc., their answer was that first and foremost it must make a good TV show. Good criteria.

Each episode of The Mr. Men Show features two 11-minute episodes filled with comic elements ranging from long sketches to “Chaplin-style” interstitials to music videos and dance interludes, incorporated into retro-style animation. Each of the 25 characters in The Mr. Men Show has a distinct personality that have universal appeal:

The Mr. Men Characters
• Mr. Bump
• Mr. Messy
• Mr. Grumpy
• Mr. Strong
• Mr. Tickle
• Mr. Rude
• Mr. Nosy
• Mr. Small
• Mr. Stubborn
• Mr. Persnickety
• Mr. Quiet
• Mr. Lazy
• Mr. Bounce
• Mr. Happy
• Mr. Noisy
• Mr. Scatterbrain
• Mr. Nervous

Jo Wyatt, the voice of Little Miss Sunshine, Little Miss Helpful, Little Miss Naughty and Little Miss Scary.

The Little Misses
• Little Miss Sunshine
• Little Miss Chatterbox
• Little Miss Whoops
• Little Miss Naughty
• Little Miss Scary
• Little Miss Helpful
• Little Miss Calamity
• Little Miss Daredevil

In the show, all the characters live in the same city, Dillydale, which on the surface looks fully functional, but upon closer inspection you see it is ruled by wackiness. I think it’s this silliness that gives it its charm. The characters really have universal appeal – Mr. Grumpy, Mr. Messy, Little Miss Sunshine — there is a character to suit your mood.

Theme from the Show http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JNo6vWKw1jg

WANT MORE: http://www.mrmenshowblog.com/

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Play with Me Sesame In Stores – March11

Friday, March 7th, 2008

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, no it’s Super Grover with two new high-flying Play With Me Sesame DVDs – Let’s Play Games and Imagine With Me, showing up in stores on March 11.

Join young children’s favorite Sesame friends – Bert, Ernie, Grover and Prairie Dawn – on a fun interactive play date filled with activities specially designed to help preschoolers learn social, cognitive and emotional skills in an entertaining way. Each release includes two discs – both a DVD and a CD-ROM with approximately 60 additional minutes of content.

Play With Me Sesame titles feature newly created games and activities mixed with classic Sesame Street footage. By encouraging hands-on learning in a fun and stimulating environment, the Play With Me Sesame line is designed to help preschoolers practice creative expression, master important cognitive concepts and cultivate skills needed to succeed in the social environment of school.

In Let’s Play Games, game show host Guy Smiley invites children to play exciting, interactive games such as “Name That Sound” and “Grover Hide-n-Seek” with their favorite Sesame friends; Imagine With Me empowers preschoolers to use their imagination for interactive play as they learn social-emotional concepts such as friendship and coping with a fear of the dark.
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