Itsy Bitsy has eye on bigscreen

McCanlies to adapt 'Jeremy' for feature

Gotham-based Itsy Bitsy Entertainment Co., best known for such children’s television programming as “Teletubbies,” is moving onto the silver screen, tapping Tim McCanlies (“The Iron Giant”) to adapt Bruce Coville’s “Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher” as a feature film.

The company has also secured film rights to Coville’s entire “Magic Shop” series, of which “Thatcher” is just one, and recently closed a deal for the rights to the classic children’s series “Eloise.”

Itsy plans to produce “Thatcher” as a live-action pic with ample computer-generated effects. Company chairman Kenn Viselman and Don Gold, prexy of onscreen entertainment for the company and the driving force behind the “Jeremy Thatcher” acquisition, will produce.

‘Beautiful message’

“We have long been impressed by the fertile mind and imagination of Bruce Coville,” said Viselman. “Unlike many children’s entertainment properties today, ‘Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher’ refuses to talk down to its audience or dumb down its beautiful message.”

Added Coville: “I have had numerous offers for film rights on ‘Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher’ over the years, and have turned them all down because I was waiting for the right match. It was clear from the time that I began talking with the Itsy Bitsy Entertainment Co. that this was it.”

Coville has written more than 70 books.

In “Jeremy Thatcher,” a boy’s life is radically and irrevocably changed when he buys a dragon’s egg at a mysterious magic shop and chooses to raise the otherworldly creature.

Busy scribe

In addition to “Iron Giant,” McCanlies also has penned “Bruce Wayne,” a television pilot for Warner Bros./Tollin-Robbins; “Dennis the Menace Strikes Again,” also for Warner Bros.; “Hank the Cow Dog” for Nickelodeon; and “Dancer, Texas Pop. 81,” which he wrote and directed for TriStar Pictures.

McCanlies is repped by Endeavor.

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