A Squared, AOL toon up

Andy Heyward returns to kidvid biz

A year after selling DIC Entertainment, Andy Heyward has returned to the kidvid scene with a new banner, A Squared Entertainment, and an animation production partnership with AOL.

Heyward has cut a deal with AOL for four webisode toon series featuring such notables as Warren Buffett, Martha Stewart and Gisele Bundchen. Deal is part of AOL’s push to increase the level of original content on its site, though the webisodes will also be widely distribbed to other sites.

A Squared will produce 26 episodes for each series, with weekly segs running three to five minutes. The shows are all designed to have an underlying educational message and complementary websites with relevant info, games and other kid-friendly resources. The four series are skedded to bow next spring.

The Buffett project, dubbed “Secret Millionaires Club,” features the famed investor serving as a mentor to a group of kids who have adventures in the business world. Skein aims to teach kids about money and how the business world works.

“What better time to help educate our kids about financial responsibility,” Buffett said in a statement. Buffett and Heyward have been friends since the 1980s, when Capital Cities/ABC, in which Buffett was a major investor, bought DIC Entertainment (which Heyward bought back years later after Disney acquired Cap Cities).

DIC was a big player in TV kidvid for years, with franchises that included “Inspector Gadget,” “Strawberry Shortcake” and “Care Bears” toon series. But because kids are spending so much time on computers and on the Internet these days, Heyward knew his new venture needed to be Web-focused.

“The Internet has hit critical mass,” Heyward said. “That’s where kids live.”

The Stewart project, “Little Martha,” features a 10-year-old Martha Stewart who runs an event planning service from her treehouse. The Bundchen series, “Gigi and the Green Team,” features the supermodel as an “environmental superhero.” A Squared also has a deal for a kid-friendly take on Carl Sagan’s landmark astronomy docu, “Cosmos,” with Sagan’s collaborator, Ann Druyan.

Heyward’s partners in A Squared include his wife, marketing vet Amy Moynihan, and AOL. Company has set up shop in Los Angeles.

Last year, Heyward sold DIC to Canada’s Cookie Jar Entertainment for $90 million.

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