Syndie distrib taking first kidvid steps

King World Prods. has inked its first kidvid deal, a co-production with the Discovery Channel for an animated series dubbed “Doodlezoo.”

Discovery has ordered 26 half-hour segs of the show, which will blend animation and live-action wildlife footage. The series is targeted to bow on Discovery’s weekend kidvid block in early 2000.

“Doodlezoo,” created by Keith Potter, follows the adventures of a group of doodle-like characters who discover a secret portal leading from their cramped animated environs to the jungle setting of the “real” world.

The series is the first kidvid project to come from King World since Nickelodeon vets Vanessa Coffey and Jim Ballantine were recruited in late 1997 to spearhead the syndie distrib’s entry into kid- and family-oriented programming. “Doodlezoo” also the first original animated series to be commissioned by the Discovery Channel.

“This is going to be a great signature series for us,” said Marjorie Kaplan, senior veep of children’s programming for Discovery Networks. “The mandate of Discovery Kids is to throw open the whole world to kids. ‘Doodlezoo’ will speak to kids about what it’s like to survive out there in the real world.”

“Doodlezoo” will gain wide exposure by running on the Discovery Channel’s weekend kidvid slate as well as on the Discovery Kids and Animal Planet spinoff channels. To build awareness, the first of a planned series of “Doodlezoo” books will be published in May by Chronicle Books.

In addition to “Doodlezoo,” Coffey, who was exec producer of Nickelodeon’s first batch of original cartoons, and Ballantine have a host of other projects in development at King World.

‘Distinctive ideas’

“The mandate we’ve been given is to create a library of evergreen (programming) for King World, but they’ve also given us incredible freedom to develop distinctive ideas and projects that we just fall in love with,” Coffey said.

“Because King World has the resources (to bankroll development), we’ve been able to spend the time and bring fully realized projects to the market,” Ballantine said.

Those projects include:

  • “Spindley Arms,” a tongue-in-cheek comedy revolving around a retirement hotel for puppets and out-of-work kidvid characters. The Chiodo Brothers f/x shop is working with KW on the puppet designs for the show.

  • “Stinky’s,” a “Cheers”-esque adult animated comedy set at a hunting lodge-turned-comedy club run by a hyena who never laughs.

  • “Destiny,” a live-action sci-fi series aimed at the “Xena” aud about a plucky young girl’s search for her parents after she’s marooned on a distant planet.

  • “The Puccis,” an animated comedy created by Roseanne and her adult children that focuses on an egomaniacal soap opera star and her dysfunctional but endearing family life.

  • “My Pet Boy,” a buddy cartoon about a dog and his pet boy set in a world where dogs reign supreme and fear that humans carry disease.

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