Cartoon combines real animals and CGI techniques

LONDON — Kate Winslet is being lined up to voice the lead in “Pride,” about a pride of lions, a co-production of A&E Networks and British pubcaster the BBC.

Winslet will topline as Suki in the drama, penned by Simon Nye who wrote the popular Blighty sitcom “Men Behaving Badly.” It also will star Helen Mirren as Suki’s mother, Macheeba, the matriarch of the pride, while Sean Bean will voice Dark, Suki’s suitor.

“Pride” will combine real animals and CGI techniques similar to those used in “Babe” and be more biologically accurate than “The Lion King.”

Back to nature

John Downer (“Lions: Spy in the Den”) is providing natural history footage shot in the African savanna while Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, producer of “The Muppets,” is creating the animation. Christopher Hall, whose recent projects include BBC dramas “Hound of the Baskervilles” and “The Lost World,” will produce.

The high-profile one-off drama, which is scheduled for broadcast by Christmas or Easter, is intended to give the BBC kudos in the runup to the renewal of its charter in 2006. The BBC is gearing up to defend its license fee, the tax paid by every TV-owning household in the U.K., which generates £2.6 billion ($4 billion) in annual funding for the pubcaster.

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