Film Roman to ride teen wave

Max Degree TV bowing 'Victor,' 'Sirens,' 'Extreme'

HOLLYWOOD — Film Roman is aiming squarely at teens. The indie production company and distrib will risk $50 million on a first-run syndication block targeting the red-hot demo.

The new shows will be part of Film Roman’s continued effort to move beyond its core animated fare such as “The Simpsons” and “King of the Hill.”

Film Roman will a unveil a trio of projects for fall 2000 under the banner of Max Degree TV. The new banner is designed to appeal to the teen market, a demo Film Roman execs tout as being underserved in first-run syndication and a solid place to start against swelling competition.

A sure thing?

“To me this is a safe bet. After talking to station managers, it became clear that there was a strong need for fresh product in the marketplace that appealed to an audience that was younger,” said Mark Lieber, prexy of television programming at Film Roman. “MTV had a virtual monopoly on that demo for a long time, then WB went out and did it and proved there is a hard-core audience that wants these programs.”

Max Degree’s production slate will debut with two dramatic series and one animated program. The two dramas, “Mission Extreme,” about a team of “X-treme” sports athletes who work as undercover detectives, and “Sirens of the Deep,” a fantasy adventure about mermaids who live secret lives as humans, will run Monday through Friday.

The animated series “Victor,” from “The Simpsons” director and lead animator Wes Archer, will run on weekends. “Victor” follows the life of a boy who believes he can talk to aliens.

Euro interest

After teasing the shows’ concept at this year’s Mip market, strong interest from Canadian and European broadcasters solidified the production effort with backing for the $500,000 per episode programs. Subsequently, Film Roman secured the participation of “Forrest Gump” producer Steve Tisch and f/x artist Steve Wang (“Godzilla”).

In addition to the Max Degree block, Film Roman will also continue on the animated Howard Stern project “Doomsday” and Norman Lear’s “Til the Fat Lady Sings” as well as several feature films.

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