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

Archive for December, 2008

Nickelodeon® New Year’s Bash at Mall of America®

Saturday, December 27th, 2008

Live near Minneapolis? Ring in the New Year at the Nickelodeon New Year’s Bash in Nickelodeon Universe at Mall of America. Families are invited to welcome 2009 with the ultimate beach party complete with 40 tons of sand, a luau, music, food and dancing. There will also be live aquatic animals, airbrush tattoos, photos and more. The party starts at 6 p.m. and includes a family countdown at 10 p.m. complete with a giant ball drop.

Activities Include:
Luau Boogie – Chase away the winter blues with some beach-style dance moves. Guests are invited to limbo, learn to boogie or hula. Tiki Theatre – South Entrance – 6 p.m., 7 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Surf’s Up! – Wanna learn some rad moves that will totally help you catch some waves? Tiki Theatre – South Entrance –   6:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

Minnesota’s Ocean – Get up close and personal with creatures found under the sea from Underwater Adventures® Aquarium. North Entrance – 6 p.m. – 10 p.m.

Family Countdown – Families are invited to join SpongeBob and friends for a countdown to 2009 – complete with a ball drop! Meet-and-greets with favorite Nick characters are available after the celebration. Tiki Theatre – South Entrance – 10 p.m.

Nickelodeon Character Meet and Greets
Green Spot
The Backyardigans: 6 p.m., 7 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Dora and Diego: 6:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

Blue Spot
SpongeBob and Patrick: 6 p.m., 7 p.m., and 8 p.m.
The Wonder Pets: 6:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

Live Music – Enjoy upbeat and energetic performances as the Cruisers roam throughout Nickelodeon Universe. Park-wide – 6 p.m. – midnight

This family New Year’s celebration combined with all of the great rides and attractions at Nickelodeon Universe is sure to provide a night to remember.

WHEN: Wednesday, Dec. 31 – 6 p.m. – midnight

WHERE: Mall of America – Nickelodeon Universe and West Market Square

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Look for Goldilocks & 3 Bears this week at your local retailer

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008
Goldilocks and the Three Bears takes a classic fairy tale and delivers it with the modern obsession of reality television consciousness. The result is an outrageously funny CGI animated film and third addition in the irreverent and delightful “Unstable Fables” collection. Created by the Jim Henson Company, Prana Animation Studios and Flame Ventures, Goldilocks, a spoiled TV star, moves in with the three bears to be filmed 24/7 for a “Big Brother”-type reality show in an effort to boost her career. As they attempt to capture audiences, Goldilocks and the bear family must learn to get along if their show is going to be a ratings success. A fresh spin on one of the most famous fables of all time featuring the voice talents of Brooke Shields, Tom Arnold and Jamie Lynn Spears. 
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The Dog Who Saved Christmas Comes to DVD Dec. 8

Saturday, December 6th, 2008
What you do when a family wants you to be a guard dog, but you are afraid to bark? This is the dilemma Zeus the labrador faces when he is adopted into a family who wants him to protect their home. It’s up to Zeus to save Christmas as the family heads out of the house on Christmas Eve, and two bumbling burglars attempt to steal their presents. This entertaining story will have you laughing and cheering. Similar to the “Home Alone” movies, it’s filled with traps and ingenuity. Viewers get a good lesson on stereotyping and the dangers of believing rumors as they find out what the cat lady is all about. While this DVD shows a strong family bond, it does cast the grandmother in a very negative light and the husband ignores his wife’s wishes as he goes out to adopt a dog without her approval. The story has a heart-warming ending. “The Dog Who Saved Christmas” provides positive role models for overcoming fears.
KIDS FIRST! Child Juror Comments: I loved this because there was a dog who couldn’t bark and who would ever think a dog might not be able to bark? At the end when there were robbers he barked and the woman who they said hated dogs helped him. I think my friends would love this because they love animals, and it’s a pretty good story. I don’t think my friends who don’t like animals would like it. The set was good and made me feel like Christmas. DVD.
Purchase at Amazon.

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Great Films for Kids Coming this Month

Thursday, December 4th, 2008

Check out these new titles for your kids and family collection:

Horton Hears a Who – Dec 9
This 2008, full-length animated movie features the voice talents of Jim Carrey as Horton, Steve Carrell as the Mayor of Whoville, Carol Burnett as the Kangaroo, and Jesse McCartney as JoJo and promises to delight a whole new generation of children and their parents and grandparents. The technological wonders of computer animation have allowed 20th Century Fox Animation to bring to life the wacky, colorful Whoville with its minute inhabitants and the lush Jungle of Nool with its host of distinctive animals and the result is a rich, fantastical world of wonder worthy of Dr. Seuss’ own imagination.

Elephant Tales- December 9
Teenage Zef and little brother, Tutu, are two happy elephants. Who wouldn’t be with the biggest backyard in the world to play in — the wild plains of Africa! Zef is just the big brother to show Tutu how to have fun and get into all kinds of mischief… until one dreadful night when their mother and the family herd are taken from them by The Badness. Now these two carefree brothers must summon their courage and do whatever it takes to rescue their family! Voices – Jean-Francios Balmer and Richard Bohringer

The Nutty Professor – November 25
Join Jerry Lewis and Drake Bell for a fun twist on a timeless story. When a nerdy boy genius drinks a secret potion created by his scientist grandfather and unleashes his super-cool alter ego, he’s sure all his problems are solved…or are they? Subtitled in Spanish. Starring Drake Bell and Jerry Lewis

Beethoven’s Big Break – Dec 15
America’s favorite pooch leads this howl-arious all-new comedy starring Jonathan Silverman, Rhea Perlman, Moises Arias (Hannah Montana) and Eddie Griffin. Long before he became the world’s most paw-pular star, Beethoven was just another loveable, struggling stray. When two studio big shots cast him in their new movie, Beethoven breaks into Hollywood, stirring up trouble on the sets while winning over a few hearts. Featuring a new song by the Jonas Brothers. Directed by Mike Elliott.
Unstable Fables: Goldilocks – Dec 15
Goldilocks, a sassy reality TV star, discovers what it’s like to be part of a family when she gets stuck at the humble home of the three bears. Tune in for all the fairytale action in this funny, heartwarming movie. It’s just right! Subtitled in Spanish. Starring Tom Arnold, Brooke Shields, Jaime Lynn Spears.

Igor – Dec 31
This hilarious animated twist on the classic monster movie is must-see family fun! Determined to prove he can create his own diabolical invention, a mad scientist’s (John Cleese) nice-guy assistant, Igor (John Cusack), creates a female Franken-monster. But his creation, Eva (Molly Shannon), is sweet and sings show tunes! That is, until she falls into the clutches of Dr. Schadenfreude (Eddie Izzard) and his shape-shifting girlfriend (Jennifer Coolidge). Now it’s up to Igor and his sidekicks (Steve Buscemi and Sean Hayes) to save Eva – and their country – from real evildoers, including sneaky Prince Malpert (Jay Leno)!

Space Chimps – Nov. 25
When Ham III, the slacker grandson of NASA’s legendary chimpanzee astronaut, is recruited to help retrieve a lost space probe, he has a close encounter of the hilarious kind as he teams up with the lovely Lieutenant Luna and their by-the-book commander, Titan. But when the ship crash-lands on a strange planet, can this mismatched chimp crew work together to save the mission without driving each other bananas? The simian slacker becomes a reluctant hero and learns the true meaning of courage as he and his crewmates risk everything in an effort to save the peaceful inhabitants of a distant planet from an evil dictator.

Growing Up Gift Set – Dec 2
Featuring episodes from the series in a five-disc collector’s set – “Growing Up Arctic”, “Growing Up Wildcats”, “Growing Up Safari”, “Growing Up Wilderness”, and a bonus disc, “Growing Up Primates” – experience the amazing stories of these diverse baby animals as they embark on incredible journeys into adulthood. From an orphaned arctic seal; the birth of two tiger cubs; a rhino mud-bath; a pack of timber wolf pups; to an orphaned baby gorilla, each “Growing Up” series provides a variety of heartwarming tales.

Peter & The Wolf  –  December 9th

Combining stop-frame model animation using state-of-the-art digital technology, a new recording by London’s Philharmonic Orchestra, and a timeless tale, a magical world appears in which youngsters learn to find the strength and courage to overcome their fears. Resonating with over five generations of children worldwide, the story of the irreverent Peter has been updated to include environmental themes resulting in “an eco-savvy tale that weighs the price of compassion.”Based on the classic musical composition by Sergei Prokofiev, Peter & The Wolf was honored as  the Best Animated Short Film at this year’s Academy Awards®.

Harry Potter Giftset – November 11
Includes all five single disc Harry Potter films – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone™, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets™, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban™, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire™ and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix™.

The Longshots- December 2
Based on the awe-inspiring real-life accomplishments of 11-year-old Jasmine Plummer, who became the first female quarterback in Pop Warner’s 56 year history. Starring Ice Cube and rising star Keke Palmer (Akeelah and the Bee), the storyline follows the superstar quarterback’s journey as she leads her local football team to the league’s Super Bowl under the coaching of her uncle, a former high school football star.

Meet Dave – November 25
There’s something that makes Dave stand out from everyone else in New York City. It’s that he’s an alien! More accurately, he’s an alien ship, on a mission to Earth to save his home planet. Torn between the voices in his head – a tiny alien crew led by a high-strung, miniature version of himself – and the world around him, Dave struggles to appear normal. But when he falls for an Earth woman, the consequences are hilarious in this “cleverly conceived…comedy” with “plenty of laughs for all ages.”

Fly Me to the Moon – Dec. 2
A space adventure of the third kind! Fly Me to the Moon combines the Apollo 11 mission with a whimsical twist involving three tween-aged flies who go along on an incredible space adventure. The film introduces new generations to space exploration and the historic moment when the world was united for this awe-inspiring achievement. A g-rated family film, the story is voiced by talents Kelly Ripa, Christopher Lloyd, Nnicollette Sheridan, Tim Curry and a live action/animation cameo by real life Apollo 11 astronaut, Buzz Aldrin.

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Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

PBS KIDS and PBS KIDS GO! have a host of fantastic seasonal programming for your youngest. Celebrate the holiday season with new themed episodes from SUPER WHY! and WORDWORLD alongside with returning holiday favorites such as “Arthur’s Perfect Christmas,” CYBERCHASE’s“Starlight Night,” MAYA & MIGUEL’s “Miguel’s Wonderful Life,”and more!

Online, pbskids.org/holidays will offer holiday themed story tools in Dot’s Story Factory, as well as fun winter activities and games to play.

Following is a listing of holiday-themed episodes airing throughout December (please check local listings as airdates and times will vary).

SUPER WHY! * * NEW * *
“’Twas the Night Before Christmas”
‘Twas the Night Before Christmas – ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, and all through Storybrook Village, not a creature was stirring…except for Whyatt, who has an important question for Santa! The Super Readers catch up with Santa and his reindeer as they gallop from rooftop to rooftop and unravel the mystery of Santa’s childhood, discovering along the way how to help spread the magic of the holiday.

“The Christmas Star / A Christmas Present for Dog”
“The Christmas Star”
It’s the night before Christmas and Frog needs a star to hang on his Christmas tree. Duck thinks this will be the perfect present for Frog, and tries to lasso one out of the sky for him. Try as he might, Duck is unable to catch a star for Frog, and cries himself to sleep. But while he sleeps, someone leaves him a wonderful present: the letters S-T-A-R…

“A Christmas Present for Dog”
It’s Christmas morning, and all the WordFriends are excited by the presents Santa has brought for them! Pig has a sled, Bear has a doll and Ant has a cookie. But not all the letters for Dog’s present came down his chimney. All he has is a B-A-L. Bear gets filled with the Christmas spirit and makes a sacrifice to ensure Dog’s Christmas will be merry!

CAILLOU – “Winter!”
Wintertime brings lots of new experiences. Sarah teaches Caillou to build a snowman, Dad helps him stay upright on his ice skates (and picks him up when he falls down), and Mom shows Caillou the fine points of downhill skiing, including how not to be afraid of the ski lift. When Caillou and Dad get to the vendor too late to buy a good Christmas tree, they decorate one in the yard instead. All the beautiful colored lights chase away the winter gloom. Also, Caillou learns about the Chinese New Year. He even tries some Chinese delicacies, but most exciting of all, he gets to see the famous dragon dance!

CAILLOU – “Caillou’s Christmas”
Caillou Goes Caroling: Caillou goes out caroling for the very first time with Mommy, Daddy, Rosie, Grandpa and Grandma. He finds out caroling is lots of fun – you get to stay up late and surprise your friends with carols, and you even get treats! They finish up the night with a big finale at the seniors’ home and Caillou imagines he’s really ‘dashing through the snow’ in a horse and sleigh. A Playschool Party: It’s a very special day at playschool as they celebrate the many ways of celebrating the holiday season. The children bring various seasonal objects for show and tell – Caillou brings his Christmas stocking to show. After a potluck feast the children go outside and build a snow fort together. Caillou’s Christmas Eve: It’s finally Christmas Eve and Caillou just can’t wait for nighttime. He’s planning to stay up all night to see Santa, but when the time comes he finds this to be a lot harder than he thought it would be. Just as he’s dozing off he faintly hears Santa calling out “Merry Christmas!” And in the morning his stocking is full of treats!

CAILLOU – “It’s Cold Outside! Brrr!”
When Caillou’s family makes a springtime visit to Jonas’ ranch, he takes them on a sleigh ride to a maple forest where Caillou discovers how the maple sap is collected from maple trees and gets to help collect some. The twins, Jason and Jeffrey, have come to play with Caillou in the snow. An investigation into some small tracks in the snow leads them to a mischievous and playful squirrel that soon has them running around the yard. Exhausted, they drop in the snow and make some tracks of their own: snow angels. When Caillou, Rosie and Mom head to the big park, Caillou sees André and they decide to build a snow fort. Sarah shows up and the boys put the fort to the test as they start a fun snow fight. Caillou and his family are heading to the tobogganing hill! What fun it is to climb the hill and race down surrounded by people having a good time. Caillou is curious when they see a sled dog and his master giving a sled show. He even gets to ride the sled with Rosie! When Mom drives Sarah to her skating lesson, Caillou decides he wants to take skating lessons too!

FRANNY’S FEET – “Reindeer to the Rescue/It’s a Big Job”
“Reindeer to the Rescue” – Franny travels to northern Scandinavia, where she meets a young reindeer named Romper, who wishes he were bigger, and had antlers like his dad. Franny tries to help Romper by putting branches on his head to look like antlers. When a baby hare ends up trapped in a small hole, only Romper is small enough to rescue it. Romper and Franny learn that being a grown-up is nice, but you’re never too small to be a big help.

“It’s a Big Job” – Franny travels to the middle of the woods, where she meets Woody, an eager beaver who is trying to build a dam. Woody is in a big hurry to finish, but he can’t figure out how to block the water. Franny convinces him that if he hurries too much, he won’t be successful. Woody follows Franny’s advice, carefully building a dam.

FRANNY’S FEET – “Season’s Greetings/Opening Night Jitters”
“Season’s Greetings” – Franny travels to Israel, where she meets Jacob, a young boy whose family is preparing for Hanukkah. Franny learns about celebrating the holiday by cooking special foods, playing with a dreidel and lighting the menorah. She also learns the importance of doing good deeds.
“Opening Night Jitters” – Franny travels to a magic show rehearsal where she meets Jitters, a little rabbit who is afraid of the dark. Jitters is too scared to get inside the magician’s hat, and considers quitting the show. Franny finds a way to help Jitters overcome his fear so the show – and Jitters – can go on.

JAY JAY THE JET PLANE – “Christmas Story #1 and #2”
Christmas Day is approaching in Tarrytown and everyone is busy getting ready. Snuffy and Big Jake are in search of the perfect Christmas tree. Jay Jay is trying to finalize his wish-list and Tracy and Herky have a plan to meet Santa. Then, tis the night before Christmas and all is not well. When a snowstorm blows in, the planes are worried tat Santa will not make it to Tarrytown. In a turn of events, the planes help Santa deliver his presents.

MAMA MIRABELLE’S HOME MOVIES – “A Savanna Kwanzaa/You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby”
“A Savannah Kwaanza” – Everyone on the Savannah is coming to Mama’s big Kwanzaa celebration — which leads to a discussion (and some movies) about Animal the seemingly endless variety (and names) of animal families. In the end, Karla comes up with a name for their little inter-species family — a “furry” of friends.
“You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby” – When Kip, Flip, and Chip (the monkey brothers) have a new cousin (Pip). No one (but especially Bo) can believe that they were ever that small. Mama has some movies that prove otherwise — making for one cute film festival.

For early elementary school children, check these out:

ARTHUR – “Arthur’s Perfect Christmas”
Everyone’s favorite aardvark gives kids a new spin on seasonal traditions in his first one-hour prime time special, showing children many ways to celebrate “the holidays.” Plans are underway in Elwood City for the best holidays ever as Arthur, D.W., their family and friends make preparations for perfect gifts, perfect parties and perfect family traditions for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and even “Baxter Day” (Buster and his mom’s special celebration). The only problem is, just like in real life, perfection is hard to attain and things start to fall apart.

CYBERCHASE – “Starlight Night”
It’s Starlight Night, the annual holiday when all the stars in Cyberspace are refreshed for the new year. But Hacker concocts a scheme to darken the stars of cyberspace forever. He sends Buzz and Delete to stop all production of the new star circuits and take inventor Archimedes away to the Northern Frontier. With the ceremony only hours away, the kids and Digit must find a simple way to make the complex circuits and rescue Archimedes – all before Hacker turns out the lights in Cyberspace!

CYBERCHASE – “When Penguins Fly”
Penguins can’t fly – or can they? In Cyberspace, on one special night each year, the penguins of Penguia take flight to deliver gifts to young borgs across the virtual universe. For the first time ever, the CyberSquad’s friend Fluff is participating, and invites his pals Matt, Jackie, Inez and Digit to join him in the impressive Penguin March. They head to the Ice Palace, where the gifts are made and where magic snowflakes are sprinkled on the penguins so they can fly. But Hacker, up to his usual ruinous tricks, doesn’t want a happy holiday (let alone happy little borgs) so he creates a giant ditch in front of the Ice Palace and traps all the penguins in its icy depths! The CyberSquad must get the penguins ice-shoes so they can climb out before midnight, but how many do they need? With too many to count, the answer lies in the kids’ ability to sample the penguin population to make a close estimate. Can the CyberSquad save the penguins and their favorite holiday too?

CYBERCHASE – “Snow Day to be Exact”
Hacker steals the powerful sunisphere from Solaria, causing the cyberworld’s sunny vacation paradise to be covered in snow! In a fun-filled chase across the snowy terrain, the kids discover the power and speed of estimation in order to recover the glowing orb from Buzz and Delete before the temperature reaches zero and the site freezes over forever.

MAYA & MIGUEL – “Miguel’s Wonderful Life”
It’s Christmas and the Santos family is getting ready for the festivities. Maya, in her enthusiasm, manages to mess up things for Miguel: she spills juice on his book report, volunteers him to hang a piñata in class (a task which makes him take a humiliating fall), volunteers him to wear a too-big Santa suit and follow her around wishing their neighbors happy holidays (his pants fall down in front of everyone), and smudges a painting he was making as a gift to his parents. Frustrated, Miguel angrily declares that he wishes he never had a sister. The next day, he awakens to find his wish has come true; Maya doesn’t exist, and nobody’s ever heard of her. Paco (who has inexplicably become incredibly articulate) follows him around, commenting as Miguel takes in how the world has changed. At first, it seems like all his Maya-made troubles are over, but then Miguel sees how the lack of Maya’s influence has adversely affected the world: Maggie and Chrissy aren’t friends because they had a difference of opinion (which Maya had previously helped them overcome), Mr. Nguyen isn’t their teacher because he felt unappreciated (Maya had made him feel appreciated), Jimmy McCorkle became a bully, etc. Finally realizing how much worse everything is without Maya, Miguel regrets he ever made the wish, and wishes it all to be reversed. Poof! The world goes back to normal. Maya is back, Miguel’s painting is still ruined, and Miguel couldn’t be happier to have a twin sister.

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DR. Helen Boehm’s FCCReady

Monday, December 1st, 2008

New DC Administration Suggests Increased Oversight of Kids’ TV, Internet and Ads. Are producers and products FCCReady?

FCCReady consults with the children’s entertainment community on the educational content of products and programs. A virtual consultancy, FCCReady assists child-oriented businesses around the corner and around the world. Its mission is a simple one: bring high standards and diverse and effective review strategies to regulatory issues faced by providers of children’s media. We’re going to have to parent better, and turn off the television set, and put the video games away, and instill a sense of excellence in our children.

FCCReady is led by nationally known psychologist, author and media authority, Dr. Helen Boehm, and produces powerful Educational and Informational (EI) appraisals and professional evaluation summaries in compliance with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and CARU, COPPA and FTC guidelines.

Dr. Boehm has a proven track record of EI program clearances and the successful review of much of the educational content for kids seen on TV and computer screens today. She will now extend the same practical and professional content advisory services she brought to NewsCorp’s Fox and Viacom’s MTV Networks/Nickelodeon over the past two decades – directly to your kids’ media projects.

Dr. Boehm has testified before Congress and is the author of the popular child-safety book, Fearless Parenting for the New Millennium and the best selling paperback, The Right Toys: A Guide to Selecting the Best Toys for Children. She has been a familiar media resource and respected kids’ expert on numerous news and talk shows, including Today, 20/20 and Good Morning America and her articles on technology, play and child development have appeared in Psychology Today, Working Mother, Redbook and Family Circle. Prior to heading youth standards and public responsibility at Fox and MTV/Nickelodeon, “Dr. Helen” directed the Children’s Advertising Unit (CARU) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, the self-regulatory arm of the children’s advertising industry.

The incoming administration has pledged greater scrutiny of child-directed entertainment, advertising and interactive media. According to President-Elect Barack Obama, “We’re going to have to parent better, and turn off the television set, and put the video games away, and instill a sense of excellence in our children.” This heightened interest in the effects of marketing to kids will be apparent in a revitalized and activist FCC and FTC.

FCCReady is ready to assist the children’s industry meet its broadcast commitments, licensing obligations, advertising pledges and Educational and Informational (EI) program requirements with professional, independent and discreet advisory services. To learn more, please visit http://www.fccready.com/

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