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


Friday, June 20th, 2008

Cookie Jar Group and DIC Entertainment announce today that Cookie Jar has entered into a definitive agreement to merge with DIC Entertainment Holdings, Inc. (DIC), a leading fully-integrated global brand management company headquartered in Burbank, California.

Under the terms of the agreement, Cookie Jar will pay approximately US $31.5 million for all of the issued and outstanding equity in DIC in a transaction valued at approximately US $87.6 million. Upon closing, DIC will continue as a subsidiary of Cookie Jar, which will remain a private company.

The transaction will create one of the world’s largest independent children’s entertainment and education companies with an impressive stable of proprietary and licensed brands, combined with an exceptional animation library with nearly 6,000 half-hours of programming featuring some of the world’s most recognizable characters.

With this transaction, Cookie Jar will have access to the merchandising and licensing rights to such successful brands as American Greetings’ Strawberry Shortcake; Mommy & Me; as well as Inspector Gadget, Horseland and Cake.

Cookie Jar’s proven track record in production and distribution of television programs worldwide is complemented by DIC’s strength in merchandising and licensing of consumer products. DIC’s subsidiary, Copyright Promotions, the leading independent licensing agency in Europe, represents many of the world’s most popular entertainment brands and most of the Hollywood studios. In addition, DIC has established relationships with global brands such as McDonald’s, General Mills and Wal-Mart. The merger will also include DIC’s one-third interest in KidsCo, an international children’s television channel that currently has five million subscribers. NBC-Universal and Corus Entertainment are also partners in KidsCo.

From a financial perspective, the combination of the two companies balances and diversifies the combined company’s revenue streams by geography and activity.

“This transaction will bring together two dynamic and successful organizations with a shared passion for excellence in children’s entertainment,” said Cookie Jar’s CEO Michael Hirsh. “With the greater scale and resources of the combined company, we will be in a much stronger position to deliver on our promise of bringing the best entertainment and educational content to children and families around the world through the medium of their choice. I first had the pleasure of working with Andy Heyward on the original Inspector Gadget series and look forward to welcoming him into our team.”

“We are thrilled to be joining forces with Cookie Jar’s highly respected team,” stated DIC’s Chairman and CEO Andy Heyward. “Our two organizations are a perfect fit, with compelling brands, strong licensing and merchandising capabilities and a commitment to quality programming that reflects the needs and aspirations of children and families around the world. I look forward to working closely with Michael and Toper in bringing our two organizations together and charting our future growth.”

“The combination of Cookie Jar and DIC is exciting for kids and families, broadcasters and retailers around the world,” added Cookie Jar’s President and COO Toper Taylor. “Our combined company will be a powerhouse in children’s brands, with global reach through television, DVD, online, books, music and consumer products. We will be a more valuable partner for broadcasters, licensors and retailers with our expanded library, broad market reach, and unmatched capabilities in taking a property from creation to global broadcast, licensing, retail and promotions. In particular, we are very pleased to be reunited with American Greetings—we have an enormous amount of respect for their senior management and talent-rich organization.”

DIC President Jeffrey Edell stated, “By merging the assets of two global media companies, we are creating the opportunity to build an industry powerhouse that provides a viable platform for future integration of children’s businesses worldwide. In addition to an extensive brand portfolio and broadcast real estate, DIC brings an extensive new media business strategy that will further strengthen and enhance the Cookie Jar brand.”

Subject to approval by DIC’s shareholders and other customary approvals, the transaction is expected to close by Fall 2008.

DIC Entertainment, spearheaded by Chairman & CEO Andy Heyward, has grown over the past 25 years into a leading children’s media company with operations worldwide. The Company’s assets include a 33% stake in the international children’s channel KidsCo and ownership of pan-European licensing agency.

DIC is dedicated to creating, developing, producing, distributing, marketing and merchandising family-based intellectual properties. The Company serves as the worldwide licensor or agent for brands such as McDonald’s, Strawberry Shortcake, Madeline, Mommy & Me, The Beginner’s Bible and Eloise. DIC has distinguished itself by building one of the largest libraries of animation worldwide with approximately 3,000 half-hours of programming, including Inspector Gadget™, Strawberry Shortcake™, Horseland, Sabrina™, Madeline™, Liberty’s Kids™, Sonic The Hedgehog and Care Bears™.
The Cookie Jar Group is a Canadian-based, privately-held entertainment and education company focused on providing compelling programming and materials for children from infancy to twelve years of age. Cookie Jar’s private equity sponsors are Birch Hill Equity Partners and OMERS Administration Corporation (the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System) and the management team is led by CEO Michael Hirsh, President and COO Toper Taylor, and CFO Scott McCaw.
Cookie Jar Entertainment Inc., Cookie Jar Group’s entertainment operation, is a leading, global, independent producer, marketing and brand manager of such renowned children’s properties as “The Doodlebops”, “Caillou”, “Hurray For Huckle!”, “Johnny Test” and “Magi-Nation”.
Cookie Jar Entertainment Inc. is a market-driven, brand building company that is committed to children first and foremost and is dedicated to the development and production of quality programming that embraces the whole child, with animated and live-action series that entertain, inspire and enlighten children and family audiences worldwide.
Cookie Jar Education, Inc., the educational arm of The Cookie Jar Group, is a global children’s educational company. It includes Carson-Dellosa Publishing, HighReach Learning® and Rainbow Bridge Publishing™. One of the largest providers of supplemental education materials in the U.S., Carson-Dellosa reaches nearly 2 million teachers with a wide array of books, classroom decoratives, puzzles and games, toys, science kits, flash cards, manipulatives and more. HighReach Learning® reaches daycare providers and Head Start centers with curriculum as a direct supplier of early childhood materials for children 3 months to seven years of age. Rainbow Bridge provides quality summer workbooks to parents through the trade education and mass markets.

PBS KIDS Summer Road Trip to Health… SESAME STREET

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008

We’re moving and grooving as PBS KIDS and PBS KIDS GO! reach stop #3 on a road trip about being engaged and healthy. Throughout the summer, this virtual trip encourages kids to fuel their minds and bodies by making healthy choices with inspiration from health-themed episodes and online activities. These programs and learning games show kids how their favorite character role models in ten different series live healthy and smart. See more at pbskidsgo.org and listen to They Might Be Giants sing the summer theme song “Get Up and Go!” Our next stop – SESAME STREET!

6.16.08 (check local listings) SESAME STREET #4085 The Healthy Food Game: It’s time to play “The Healthy Foods Name Game!” with Mr. Healthy Food as the game show host! Elmo has to find four healthy foods of various colors on Sesame Street before the mouse climbs to the top of the refrigerator. When Elmo and his friends have found all four healthy foods, they receive their big, healthy prize. They get to eat all the delicious and colorful foods that they’ve found!

6.17.08 SESAME STREET #4089 American Fruitstand: Alan is busy receiving a big delivery at Hooper’s Store so Miles helps him out by watching the fruit stand. Elmo and Zoe walk by talking about cookies and ice cream. All of sudden, Sesame Street is transformed into a 50’s musical show “American Fruit Stand.” Miles sings “I Love Fruit” (to the tune of “I Feel Good”), a song about how good fruit tastes and how good it is for the body. All of the fans and groupies become so excited about fruits and vegetables. Alan’s business has never been so good.

6.18.08 SESAME STREET #4087 3 Bears Adventure – As the Porridge Cooled: Telly is doing a “Monster on the Spot” report about Baby Bear who tells the story of what really happened to the three bears as the porridge cooled. Suddenly, they find that they’re lost in the magic garden of a wizard who put a spell on them and turned them into ducks. The wizard won’t let them out of the garden until they name three things about vegetables. With the help of the AM Singing Vegetables who sing, “We Are the Vegetables,” the three bears figure out that vegetables are delicious, are good for you, and are musical!

6.19.08 SESAME STREET #4092 Big Bird, Snuffy, Maria & Luis Go on a Hike: Maria and Luis are planning for their hike gathering their backpacks, water, and trail mix. Big Bird and Snuffy are especially excited since they have never been on a hike before! Maria explains what great exercise it is and how many interesting things you can find around you.

6.20.08 SESAME STREET #4151 The Worm Cup Games: Everyone is gathered to watch the Worm Cup on TV, which is when worms come from all over the world to try and kick a ball into a cup. This year Slimey, from Sesame Street, is a finalist competing against Squirmadene, from France.

35th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards

Monday, June 16th, 2008

Awards were given out at a gala ceremony on June 13, 2008 at the Frederick P. Rose Hall, home of Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City. This year’s Daytime Creative Arts and Entertainment Emmy Awards included animation winners and awards in two new categories called New Approaches.

The Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation Emmy® Award is a juried award given for a single episode of a series or special. The award is based on individual achievement rather than team effort. Animators, Background Key Designers, Color Stylists, Layout Artists, Production Designers, Storyboard Artists and Character Designers are eligible for an award in this category. The Emmy® awards for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation were presented to Sandra Equihua, Character Designer for “El Tigre” for the episode “Enter the Cuervo,” Bob Boyle, Production Designer for “Wow! Wow! Wubbzy” and Peter Ferk, Storyboard Artist for “Growing Up Creepie” for the episode “Creepie Friday.”” “Growing Up Creepie” airs on Discovery Kids and is produced by Mike Young Productions, Inc. El Tigre and “Wow! Wow! Wubbzy” air on Nickelodeon.

The New Approaches categories emphasize innovative production techniques and the use of media enhancement to support content. With emerging and converging technologies, and multi-platform distribution capabilities, the National Television Academy recognizes that the medium is changing and that content is available in many forms. Entries can be both broadcast and broadband, but the common denominator is quality. The two new categories awarded this year are New Approaches – Daytime Entertainment and New Approaches – Daytime Children’s Entertainment.

KIDS FIRST! congratulated the kids’ programming winners, including:

Children’s Animated Program: “Curious George” (PBS)
Special Class Animated Program: “The Backyardigans” (Nick Jr.)
Single Camera Photography (Film or Electronic): “DragonflyTV” (PBS)
Directing in a Children’s Series: “Design Squad” (PBS)
Directing in an Animated Program: “Jakers! The Adventures of Piggley Winks” (PBS)
Special Class Directing: “Walt Disney World Christmas Day Parade 2007” (ABC)
Single Camera Editing: “DragonflyTV” (PBS)
Music Direction and Composing: “The Wonder Pets!” (Nick Jr)
Original Song, Children’s and Animation: “Fetch with Ruff Ruffman Theme Song,” by Terry Tompkins, Roc Gagliese, Steve D’Angelo and Glen Berger for “Fetch! With Ruff Ruffman” (PBS)Performer in a Children’s Series: Bindi Irwin in “Bindi the Jungle Girl” (Discovery Kids)Performer in an Animated Program: Eartha Kitt in “Disney’s The Emperor’s New School” (Disney Channel)
Pre-School Children’s Series: “Sesame Street” (PBS)
Children’s Series: “Greatest Inventions with Bill Nye” (Discovery Channel) and “Jack Hanna’s Into the Wild” (Syndicated)
Special Class Special: “America’s Invisible Children” (The CW)Sound Editing, Live Action and Animation: “The Batman” (Kids WB)
Sound Mixing: “The Batman” (Kids WB)
Writing in a Children’s Series: “Between the Lions” (PBS)Writing in Animation: “Peep and the Big Wide World” (PBS) and “Wordgirl” (PBS)
New Approaches — Daytime Children’s: “I Got a Rocket,” Kabillion
Animation: “El Tigre” (Nickelodeon): “Wow! Wow! Wubbzy” (Nickelodeon); and “Growing Up Creepy” (Discovery Kids)

PBS Kids Sprout introduces Summer Fun Fridays,

Sunday, June 15th, 2008

PBS Kids Sprout introduces a three hour programming block that will run Fridays 12 noon to -3 p.m., June 20-August 29.

The block will feature the world premiere of the preschool series Frances, from The Jim Henson Company and HIT Entertainment, on June 20 at 12 noon. Based on the classic Russell Hoban books about Frances, a precocious and high-spirited badger, the series is produced using Henson Digital Puppetry Studio, a proprietary 3D animation technology that allows puppeteers to provide movement and voice in real time.

Additional summer Fun Fridays programming will include the animated series Brambly Hedge, Sesame Street’s Panwapa and Percy the Park Keeper.

NAPPA Awards Deadline – July 30

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

Mark your calanders: July 30 is the deadline for submitting your DVD to the National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA). When you enter the same titles to both the National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA) competition and for a KIDS FIRST! endorsement you get a discount on both entry fees!

KIDS FIRST! will give you 50% off ifs regular endorsement fee.

NAPPA honors the best in children’s DVDs, music; toys; software etc. and features its Gold winners in the November and December issues of 40 regional parenting magazines across the country. Great timing to get extra pr for your children and family titles.

Both NAPPA Gold and Honors winners get a full year of online coverage at NAPPA.Parenthood.com, a content-rich site for parents.

Note: no restrictions apply to year of release of entry.

Download a NAPPA DVD entry form here or visit NAPPA.Parenthood.com. For more information, contact [email protected] or call 617-522-1515 x23.

Children’s Media Use and Sleep Problems: Issues and Unanswered Questions

Tuesday, June 10th, 2008

The Kaiser Family Foundation released the results from their study about children’s media use and related sleep problems in June, 2008.

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.

This research brief examines different aspects of how media use may impact sleep. It 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 the complete report, go here.

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