Porchlight Entertainment, an independent television production/distribution house, is expected to shortly announce a deal to bring the high-tech, animated preschool show “Jay Jay, the Jet Plane” to U.S. cable television.Porchlight prexy Bruce Johnson says the deal is still being finalized and won’t yet name the network, but he expects “Jay Jay” — a model-animated program with 3-D elements about the adventures of brother and sister airplanes — to be in full production before the end of the year and on the air by fall 1998. Porchlight is committed to producing 26 episodes and expects to be selling the program internationally next year. On the multimedia front, Porchlight is also announcing that it has reached agreement with Anaya Interactiva to distribute titles from its new “Amazing Bible Journey” series of CD-ROMs in Latin America. The discs, the first of which is titled “The First Christmas,” will be translated into Spanish by Anaya and be distributed overseas, starting next month. These developments come on the heels of Porchlight’s recent expansion (Daily Variety, Aug. 18). The expansion, under which Porchlight is setting up new kids’ and family programming divisions, is possible in the wake of the success of Porchlight’s critically acclaimed, “Adventures From the Book of Virtues,” airing on PBS in the U.S. and now being sold globally. That show has become both a ratings’ and merchandising hit, and Johnson says Porchlight will continue to focus on producing and distributing educational and religious fare aimed at young children. “When we (Johnson and partner William Baumann) started Porchlight, we knew there was a huge audience in the so-called specialized marketplace,” Johnson says. “It’s a niche that both of us know quite a bit about, and we’re focused on doing high-quality product on all media in that same category.” At Mipcom, the company will be selling more than 250 half-hours of family and kids’ programming, including “Virtues,” puppet shows “Pappyland” and “Gerbert,” and three Japanese-animated programs for tots: “Little Men,” “Tico and Friends” and “Time Quest.”
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