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Pact ‘Spawns’ skein

McFarlane, IDT team for revised toon series

Todd McFarlane plans to regenerate his “Spawn,” producing an updated version of his late-’90s HBO animated series.

Producer/director McFarlane has pacted with IDT Entertainment — which recently acquired animation studio DPS/Film Roman (“The Simpsons”) — to bring back “Spawn: The Animated Series,” as well as develop at least two more animated projects.

“Since the day the last show aired, not a day goes by when someone doesn’t ask when ‘Spawn’ is coming back,” McFarlane said. “I was at the point where I was either going to do it myself or find a partner. Now, with IDT, I’ll be able to bring the ideas, coupled with a company that owns an animation house that everyone is familiar with.”

McFarlane originally produced 18 episodes of “Spawn” over three years at HBO.

The series, which revolves around a soldier who’s executed and then reborn as a “creature from hell,” won two Emmy awards. Project is based on the comic book series that also spawned a 1997 New Line feature.

According to McFarlane, HBO canceled “Spawn” partly because of the overhead costs that came with running an animation division. He hopes to approach the pay cabler with a new version of the show, which he said would cost half of the old version’s pricetag.

“We’ll start at HBO and then work our way down,” McFarlane said.

Even if he doesn’t find a TV partner, McFarlane plans to go forward with a series of “Spawn” direct-to-video episodes, distributed by IDT’s Anchor Bay Entertainment.

The new “Spawn” will look somewhat different than its original incarnation, he said.

“Time has passed, and if we come back with something that looks the same, that wouldn’t be fair to the audience,” he said.

Besides TV and video, the three-project deal with IDT includes feature film, video game, apparel and action figure (through McFarlane Toys) components.

As for the other joint projects with IDT, McFarlane said he has already licensed rights to “The Champ,” a popular radio feature in Canada. McFarlane hopes to turn the franchise, about a punch-drunk boxer who constantly misinterprets others’ actions, into a half-hour animated comedy.

IDT Entertainment CEO Morris Berger said he hoped his company and McFarlane would “revolutionize comic animation and develop franchise properties of enduring value.”

IDT recently sealed a deal with Stan Lee’s Pow! to produce six animated properties.

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