Meanwhile, 11 series pilots to preem in summer 2001

NEW YORK — As part of its $500 million investment in original programming over the next five years, Cartoon Network has greenlit four new animated series.

At a press conference Wednesday in Gotham, the cartoon cabler also announced it has ordered more than 110 new episodes of renewed original programs, including “Courage the Cowardly Dog,” “Mike, Lu & Og,” “Ed, Edd ‘n’ Eddy,” “Dexter’s Laboratory” and “Sheep in the Big City.”

In addition, the net plans to premiere 11 series pilots in summer 2001 as part of “The Big Pick II,” during which viewers will be able to vote online for the next new original series. During “The Big Pick” in August 2000, viewers selected “Grim & Evil,” which will join Cartoon’s lineup in October.

Cartoon Network has ordered six 30-minute episodes of “Grim & Evil” to be produced by Cartoon Network Studios in Burbank. The series is composed of two cartoons from Maxwell Atoms: “The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy” and “Evil Con Carne.”

The other new series are “Time Squad,” a half-hour comedy series; “Samurai Jack,” a half-hour action-adventure series; and the previously announced “Justice League.” Cartoon Network has ordered 26 episodes of each of the three series. “Time Squad” will debut in June and “Samurai” will launch in August.

“Time Squad,” created by Dave Wasson (“Max and His Special Problem”), tracks a group of “time cops,” who travel back in time to set history straight. “It’s a C-average student’s approach to history,” Wasson said.

Created by Genndy Tartakovsky (“Dexter’s Laboratory”), “Samurai Jack” features a warrior displaced in the distant future. “Stylistically, this won’t be like any other animated show on television,” Tartakovsky said. “We’re using music, cinematic storytelling and very stylized backgrounds to create mood and atmosphere.”

Cartoon Network said it will air 96 new episodes of “Dragonball Z” in summer 2001 and plans to premiere six new anime series this year.

The AOL Time Warner-owned cabler, which recently passed the 70 million subscriber mark, wrapped 2000 as the No. 2 rated basic cable net in total day and No. 3 in primetime.

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