Upfront presentation includes 13 new series
NEW YORK — Cartoon Network is getting into the live-action reality biz.Execs announced a slate of six reality skeins at Cartoon’s upfront presentation in Gotham Wednesday. The cabler’s ambitious programming slate, unveiled by chief content officer Rob Sorcher and Turner Animation prexy Stuart Snyder, also encompasses seven new animated skeins and four original animated telepics. In addition to the reality shows, Cartoon has launched a partnership with the NBA, repped by a shortform entry into the network’s slate: “My Dad’s a Pro,” starring Jalen House, son of Celtics player Eddie House. “If I were a buyer, I would buy,” joked NBA commish David Stern to the advertisers in the aud. The NBA tie-in is likely a response to Disney XD’s much-publicized partnership with ESPN. Disney XD is seeking to wrest the 6-11 boys demo from Cartoon, but it faces an uphill battle. Cartoon’s focus on boys over the past year has earned it further dominance over its target aud, traditionally the most lucrative kid demographic for advertisers. The presentation was filled with thinly veiled refs to “the kind of sanitized shows you see from the competition,” as more than one exec put it. Many of the net’s live-action series appear to be tween-friendly versions of adult reality fare: There’s “Head Rush,” a “Cash Cab”-style gameshow set on a roller coaster; “Survive This,” an outdoors adventure show that focuses on teamwork instead of backstabbing; and “Dude, What Would Happen,” a “Mythbusters”-esque series of answers to oddball questions like “What would happen if you attached 350 helium balloons to a sumo wrestler?” The other two upcoming live series are “Bobb’e Says,” starring “30 Rock” thesp Bobb’e J. Thompson, and demolition-themed “Destroy Build Destroy.” Further offerings from the net include a new series by the creators of breakout “Total Drama Island” and a “Total Drama” spinoff. That series became a surprise hit with boys after the net launched its Thursday comedy block around “Chowder” and “The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack” last year. Also in the lineup: “Sym-Bionic Titan,” a new show by “Samurai Jack” creator Genndy Tartakovsky, and a new Scooby Doo series. In a surprising move, Cartoon has picked up Pendleton Ward’s “Adventure Time” and developed it into a full series. The short aired as part of Fred Seibert’s “Random Cartoons” variety show on competitor Nickelodeon. Seibert, who developed several Cartoon Net shows out of a similar program (“What-a-Cartoon”) he produced for the Turner net, will exec produce the show with Derek Drymon. That series will also support a live-action Scooby Doo prequel movie — one of the four original pics slated for next year. The other three are “Firebreather,” a graphic novel-based CGI pic helmed by “Aeon Flux” creator Peter Chung; another live-action “Ben 10″ movie (based on the net’s popular original characters); and a live-action adaptation of young-adult novel “Tiger’s Apprentice,” directed by Wayne Wang.
Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more