Cannon fires up ‘Pandz’ for preschoolers

HIT Entertainment developing musical animated series

Nick Cannon will exec produce “Pandz,” one of two animated series that HIT Entertainment has ordered into development.

HIT will also develop “Skeleracers,” a CG series from Sprite Animation Studios, and present it alongside “Pandz” at Mipcom.

“Pandz,” for which HIT envisions a 26-episode first season, is a music-infused comedy about four panda siblings in a band touring the world (teaching their 3- to 5-year-old target audience about different customs in the process). The series is one of the first products of Cannon’s recently launched NCredible Entertainment, designed to create and promote multimedia projects.

NCredible is the company behind telepic “The School Gyrls,” which drew an audience of 3.2 million for Nickelodeon, where Cannon is chairman of TeenNick. NCredible’s “Halo Awards” and “The Nightlife” are also TeenNick projects. Future NCredible endeavors include “Son of a Gun: A True Bronx Tale,” about New York rapper Corey Gunz, for MTV, as well as a “Cinderella” adaptation entitled “Ragz” for Nick and an Adult Swim project that’s described as “a hip-hop version of ‘Entourage’ with puppets.”

“To me, youth culture in general is quite important,” Cannon, who also hosts NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” told Daily Variety. “Being able to be on the executive side and the creative side, I feel it’s my lane. … I understand young people, and I see the edutainment side of it as well.”

Cannon, who commented that “a lot of shows I see on air right now aren’t in touch with the music industry of today,” will also provide original songs for each “Pandz” episode.

“This was his idea, his concept, and he’s very integral to it,” HIT exec veep of production and development Karen Barnes said. “He has a lot of very good connections in the music business, so he’s going to provide all of the music, but he also looks at the bible and comments, looks at the design work; he really is our executive producer and creative head of the property.”

Cannon and HIT are conscious of building the international potential of “Pandz.”

“Nick came up with a fabulous idea,” Barnes said. “The hardest part of putting new music in every episode comes when we go to translate it; it’s very expensive to redub. Nick said, ‘You know what, when we record the songs, we’ll record them in four major languages at once, and that will take care of that.’ I said, ‘I wish we thought of that.'”

Cannon said he came up with the idea for “Pandz” during the height of popularity for boy bands.

“I found this interesting juxtaposition between how people loved boy bands and how much people love pandas,” he said. “If you think of a zoo when a panda is born, people get into a frenzy. So imagine a boy band with pandas.”

Sprite’s “Skeleracers,” aimed at kids 8-11, tells the story of a 16-year-old who is the only living boy in a world of zombies, skeletons and vampires and who ends up at a racing academy.

Jeff Lowell (Hotel for Dogs) is the head writer for “Pandz.”

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