Animated children's series proposed for pubcaster

Director-producer Jonas McCord and former Pixar animator Seth Piezas are looking to line up about $27 million in financing for “Unnatural History,” a proposed 65-episode animated children’s series.

PBS flagship station WNET New York has agreed to co-produce the series, which will follow four kids who travel through time, hell-bent on stopping an anti-technologist from destroying new inventions at their source.

Sandra Sheppard, director of children’s programming for WNET, said she was eager to make the station a partner in “Unnatural History” because of its similarity to another PBS kids show, “Cyberchase,” which mixes adventure with info about mathematics.

“Cyberchase” gets its funding from corporate sponsors and investors including the Arthur Vining Davis Foundation and the National Science Foundation.

Underwriters such as these may end up paying for some of the production cost of “Unnatural History,” but McCord said his first goal is to harvest the bulk of the funding from foreign sources interested in entertainment shows laced with easily digested educational content.

McCord said the cost will be high — more than $400,000 per half-hour — because the animation will be high-end 3-D, similar to “SpongeBob SquarePants” and “Jimmy Neutron.” But he envisions a strong backend of DVD, books, merchandise and even scholarships for kids underwritten by corporate sponsors.

McCord wrote and directed the feature “The Body” and produced Robert Towne’s “Ask the Dust.” McCord also worked on TV series “The Young Riders.”

Piezas’ credits at Pixar included “Toy Story 2,” “Monsters, Inc.” and “The Incredibles.”

(Michael Fleming contributed to this report.)

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