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Col TriStar mints ‘Men’ toon for WB

Columbia TriStar Television has inked a deal with the WB netlet for its new animated series “Men in Black,” which is based on the Columbia Pictures-Amblin Entertainment summer theatrical starring Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith.

“Men in Black” will debut on the netlet’s Kids WB lineup in October in the 11 a.m. Saturday slot.

The deal is Columbia TriStar’s latest in its push to become a player in the kidvid biz while looking to the film side for material. Columbia has already developed a kidvid version of “Jumanji” for UPN and is working on a new ani-mated version of “Ghostbusters,” titled “Super Ghostbusters.”

What may make “Men in Black” stand out this fall is the quick turnaround between theatrical release and TV de-but. The film is set to debut in early July, with the show launching only a few months later. Usually it takes at least a year before a TV version of a movie hits the screens. Of course, the WB is gambling that the performance of the “Men in Black” pic will merit a spinoff.

“We’re confident that ‘Men in Black’ can become a franchise property for our studio,” said Sander Schwartz, senior VP of children’s programming at Columbia TriStar Television. “Debuting on the heels of an intensive and wide-ranging motion picture campaign, the series will benefit from extraordinarily high awareness levels in all key demographics.”

The show will be part of the WB’s trilogy of theatrically inspired kidvid. The WB is also premiering new episodes of “Batman” and “Superman” this fall.

“Men in Black” is about a secret governmental organization that provides an immigration service for earth-bound aliens. It will be exec produced by Richard Raynis, with Jeff Kline serving as supervising producer and Duane Capizzi as producer/story editor. Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald will serve as executive producers.

“Men in Black” will replace “The Daffy Duck Show” in October, as Daffy is going on a break.

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