Nelvana, PBS pact for Saturday toon block

$40 million deal will bring book-based p'grams to life

TORONTO — Animation production company Nelvana has signed a multiyear contract with PBS to produce the public broadcaster’s first Saturday morning children’s programming block in a deal which Nelvana estimates to be worth $40 million.

Nelvana will produce and deliver six book-based children’s series to run for the U.S. public network’s fall 2000 program season, and PBS has agreed to commission two of the six as daily strips for subsequent seasons on a Monday-Friday basis.

The series will be based on Maurice Sendak’s “Seven Little Monsters,” William Joyce’s “George Shrinks,” Rosemary Wells’ “Timothy Goes to School,” Don Freeman’s “Corduroy” bear series, Michael and Betty Paraskevas’ “Junior Kroll” and Andrea Beck’s “Elliot Moose.”

Nelvana also will serve as merchandise licensing agent for four or more of the six character brands that come from the series.

Nelvana’s commitment is subject to obtaining 75% of the financing for the slate by Dec. 31, the company said in a press release. The companies currently have about 50% of this sum together, said Nelvana U.S. operations prexy Toper Taylor, leaving an additional $10 million to be raised by the end of the year.

Positive reaction

“We’ve already gotten tremendous response from Madison Avenue,” Taylor said. “We’re going to get the job done.”

In addition to an undisclosed portion that will come from the partners, the budgets will come from U.S. corporate sponsors, co-production partners, Canadian and international program sales, and industry incentives.

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