Execs downplay Saban-Henson rumors

CANNES — Teutonic kidvidder EM.TV unveiled a slew of production deals at Mipcom on Wednesday, while execs denied rumors that billionaire entertainment mogul Haim Saban has bid for subsid the Jim Henson Co.

EM.TV has pacted with Swedish animation outfit Happy Life, France’s Alphanim and Canadian group Cinar to develop “Creepschool,” a toon series for German pubcaster ZDF and French web France 3.

The series, about kids in a prep school run by goblins, monsters and trolls, has also been picked up by Sweden’s SVT and Canadian web Teletoon. Deal comes on the heels of an agreement with German tyke channel KI.KA for 300 half-hour episodes of children- and youth-oriented programming.

New shows include dog toon “Poochini” and “Momo” and “What About Mimi?” both about clever little girls. Girls make up a significant portion of KI.KA’s viewers.

Patrick Elmendorff, EM.TV’s president of TV distribution, said company reps had met with 200 “serious” clients at Mipcom, adding that the modest turnout has helped sharpen the focus on target customers — broadcasters.

He would not comment on rumors that Saban was on the verge of acquiring the Jim Henson Co., but did stress it would not affect business with buyers. With its minority stake in Formula One racing tied up in the Kirch Group’s insolvency, EM.TV is desperate to sell assets to make the final payment of a $250 million loan to creditor banks by the end of the year.

Company owes $65 million, the same amount Saban is said to have put on the table.

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