Live-action preschool series crosses over

Hot live-action preschool series “Yo Gabba Gabba” continues to expand beyond its TV roots.

The show, which just scored a third season order from Nickelodeon, has spawned a live tour — which first hits Australia next month, with the U.S. to follow — and a feature in the works for 2010.

In addition, “Gabba” has now sealed more than 40 merchandising licenses — including the DVD “New Friends,” which hits stores today, as well as an extensive collection of toys and 22 books to be published this year by Simon and Schuster.

“The biggest brand in kids is Nick, and for them to endorse us for a third time is a sign of how well this franchise has caught on,” said Charlie Rivkin, prexy-CEO of Wildbrain and an exec producer on “Gabba.”

Wildbrain produces “Gabba” along with the Magic Store, the shingle run by “Gabba” creators and exec producers Christian Jacobs and Scott Schultz. (Jon Berrett is also an exec producer).

“We’ve been trying to develop this idea of ‘Yo Gabba Gabba’ for such a long time. To all of a sudden have squishy pals and plush toys in stores … it’s humbling,” Schultz said.

“Gabba” has developed a loyal fanbase of tots and their hipster parents, who have been drawn in by the show’s unique mix of music, animation and live action.

The show revolves around five colorful characters, including host DJ Lance Rock, and guest stars from the worlds of indie music, TV and film.

Nick has ordered 13 additional episodes of “Gabba,” bringing the series total to 53. As part of its investment in “Gabba,” Nickelodeon is moving the show to 24-hour preschool cabler Noggin — soon to be renamed Nick Jr. — where it will run three times a day.

“Yo Gabba Gabba” is “one of the coolest preschool shows on TV,” said Brown Johnson, president of animation for the Nickelodeon/MTVN Kids and Family Group. “Christian and Scott embody the same kind of innocence as you see in the show and go at it with real heart and soul.”

Jacobs and Schultz said they’re already starting to map out the next 13 episodes of “Gabba.” That includes writing and recording a new batch of songs, as well as commissioning new animated pieces as well as contacting potential celeb and music guests.

The duo then hope to start producing the new segs late this summer. At the same time, they’re drawing up a storyline for the “Gabba” movie.

“We’ve got some pretty good ideas, but it’s still in the really early stages,” Jacobs said of the movie.

As for the stage show, Jacobs and Schultz came up with a tour that more resembles a concert than a typical performance geared toward tykes. For one thing, Lance Robertson — who plays DJ Lance Rock on the show — is touring with, and starring in, the live production.

Recent guests on “Gabba” have included Jack Black, Rachel Dratch, Andy Samberg, Amy Sedaris and the Roots. Mark Mothersbaugh, Jack McBrayer and Biz Markie are regularly featured.

Meanwhile, Wildbrain and the Magic Store are looking to develop a project starring the Aquabats, the cult band fronted by Jacobs. The producers shot a pilot for an Aquabats series last year.

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