‘Hey Arnold’ TV Movie in Works as Nickelodeon Aims to Revive Classic Shows (EXCLUSIVE)

Courtesy of Nickelodeon

Nickelodeon hopes to score a new touchdown with a favorite animated character who has a head shaped like a football.

The Viacom-owned kids’ outlet is developing a new TV movie based on “Hey Arnold!,” the animated series that ran between 1996 and 2004 and focused on a fourth-grader with an oblong noggin who lived with his grandparents in a boarding house. The  TV movie will feature a storyline that picks up where the original series ended and resolves unanswered plotlines–including the whereabouts of Arnold’s parents, long missing from the program. Executives at the network declined to offer a specific date for when the new content might be ready or air.

With the revival of “Arnold,” Nickelodeon is formalizing a quest to build part of its future by tilling its past. The network has named Chris Viscardi, co-creator of the classic Nickelodeon series, “The Adventures of Pete & Pete, as its senior vice president of content development for franchise properties – a new role. While Viscardi will oversee creative strategies for key content like “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” “SpongeBob SquarePants” and “Dora The Explorer,” he will also mine the network’s vast library of original series to develop new shows for modern audiences.

 Yes, that does mean that Nickelodeon could potentially revive old series like “Ren & Stimpy,” “Rocko’s Modern Life” or “The Wild Thornberrys,” though the network’s executives declined to discuss specific projects other than “Hey Arnold!”

 “Kids who grew up on these characters are now of the age that they are having kids and families themselves,” said Russell Hicks, president, content development and production, for Nickelodeon Group, in an interview. “Our library has come to fruition and it’s time for it to start coming back to life.”

Hicks and Viscardi say they aren’t trying to bring older millenials back to the network, though they recognize developing new versions of Nick classics might create some family viewing opportunities. The tweaked shows are being readied “for the current audience that we have,” said Hicks. “You have to remember people who are going to watch really don’t have a recollection of ‘Hey Arnold,’” he added. “You have to make it relevant to them but also nod to the audience that is going to be interested.”

Viscardi has some of those chops. He was a writer on 20th Century Fox’s 2007 reboot of “Alvin and the Chipmunks,” but also has a hand in modern Nick fare, like “Sanjay and Craig,” on which he is an executive producer and writer with longtime creative partner Will McRobb.

Executives said they were not cutting back on new projects as they seek opportunities to reboot classics. Nickelodeon has more than 13 new animated projects in production and “over 40 things in development,” said Hicks. “There is a robust pipeline of new fresh product,” he said.

Nickelodeon’s emphasis on wringing new value out of its library comes as the network and its counterpart Nick Jr. have gained in the ratings during the most recent quarter. Investors have in the recent past expressed concern about Viacom’s Nickelodeon empire as new technologies catering to kids – including subscription-video-on-demand outlets like Netlifx and Amazon – have wooed away some of TV’s youngest viewers. But in recent weeks, according to data from Bernstein Research analyst Todd Juenger, an emphasis on new original programming has helped some of the Nick networks gain ratings share at the expense of rivals.

The spirit of the older shows will be kept intact in their new incarnations, said Viscardi. He praised the “very irreverent, and surreal and wonderful” qualities found in many of the most popular Nick efforts. Some series embraced more of a “punk rock” attitude,” while others were “sweeter.” Viscardi said he is not considering just animation He is also open to reviving some of Nickelodeon’s classic live-action series, which over the years included everything from “You Can’t Do That On Television” to “Clarissa Explains It All.” Mitchell Kreigman, the creator of “Clarissa,” recently published a new book, “Things I Can’t Explain,” chronicling the heroine’s life as a young adult in the big city.

The network is likely to give first look to properties Nickelodeon already controls, but Hicks and Viscardi said they remain open to considering content that ran on the network that is owned by someone else. “Doug,” an animated series about a pre-teen kid and his friends that aired on Nickelodeon in the 1990s, for example, is controlled by Walt Disney. But Viscardi said executives see the series “as part of Nickelodeon history.”

Not everything is going to get a new day in the sun. “We are very selective about the series, what we go back to, and think about how we can take them and make them special,” said Viscardi. “It’s really important to us to be really consistent with the storytelling that was there long ago on the series but also work to reimagine it , even just a little bit, and make it appealing and thrilling for today’s audience.” In a different case, Nickelodeon is just letting the old stuff out for another airing. The company recently launched “The Splat!” a primetime and overnight block of classic programming, on its Teen Nick cable network.

TV shows are not the only content being considered. Nickelodeon is up for trying anything, ranging from digital shorts to projects with Viacom’s Paramount Pictures, said Hicks.

The executives say their focus was guided to Nick’s library of content by chatter about the old shows social media – and some happenstance. Craig Bartlett, the  creator of “Hey Arnold!,” was pitching a different idea and started talking to Nick executives about the ways the characters from the old series continued to gain mentions in online forums, citing fan art and fan fiction to short films on YouTube. Barrett will be writer and executive producer on the new “Arnold” move, and Nickelodeon is reaching out to other creators of older shows, said Viscardi, hoping to work with them or perhaps partner them with younger creatives who grew up on their programs.

“We are in discussions with them now and will probably have more to say in the next few months,” said Viscardi. “There’s a good likelihood we’ll be doing more than just ‘Arnold’ in terms of doing specials.”

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  1. Blake Good says:

    Please cancel your bad shows like Sanjay and Craig, Bredwinners, and Pig, Goat, Banana, Cricket and we’ll have the old Nick from 1991-2006, back again!

  2. Shadow Haunter12 says:

    I hope these means cancelling shows like breadwinners, sanjay and craig

  3. ad48 says:

    Now just cancel Breadwinners and Sanjay & Craig.

  4. Catie says:

    I am 15, but OBSESSED with Hey Arnold! (ask my friends lmao) and I am SOOOO happy they are finally making this movie. AHHH

  5. Brittany says:

    Instead of the orange VHS tapes, they should release orange DVDs.

  6. Roll says:

    I’m well into my twenties now, but will SO be there to see this! Long live fanfiction!!!

  7. Anna says:

    Reads about the Hey Arnold movie and revival of Hey Arnold. Screams and then faints. Wakes up reads it again, screams and faints again. Wakes up and reads it again, gasping for breath. I don’t even care if they revive the show (although that would be awesome) but the idea that they are going to finally be making the Hey Arnold movie that will explain about Arnold’s parents?!!! That’s the best thing ever! Jumps up and down in the air. I’m currently in my early twenties, but if they do revive the show and do the movie that the fans of Hey Arnold have been waiting for I’m definitely going to be watching it. You better not be teasing us! You better make the movie!!! It’s high time that we see Arnold finding out about his parents and finally see Arnold and Helga getting together. Even if the voice actors aren’t the same, I don’t care. You better do it! Please!

  8. Bryan says:

    People need to calm down on the “doomsday” about the revival of Hey Arnold. You know Craig Bartlett is the Creator of Hey Arnold and he’s back at Nick. He wont let them ruin his show.

  9. ToonBoyDan says:

    Here’s the voice cast members for the upcoming ‘Hey Arnold!’ television movie

    1. Noah Schnaap as Arnold Shortman (voice)

    2. Jamil Walker Smith as Gerald Johanssen (voice digitally mastered to a higher pitch by using sound
    audio) and Peapod Kid (voice in his normal pitch)

    3. Francesca Smith as Helga Pataki and Sheena Jefferson (voices)

    4. Max Charles as Sid Patterson (voice)

    5. Alexander Garfin as Stinky Peterson (country western voice)

    6. Noah Johnston as Eugene Horowitz (voice)

    7. A.J. Tecce as Chocolate Boy (voice)

    8. William Wunsch as Curly (voice)

    9. Justin Shenkarow as Harold Berman (voice)

    10. Anndi MacAfee as Phoebe Heyerdahl (voice)

    11. Ashley Buccile as Lila Sawyer (voice)

    12. Olivia Hack as Rhonda Lloyd (voice)

    13. Dan Castellaneta as Grandpa Phil, the Jolly Olly Man, Sheena’s Uncle Earl and Dr. Steiglitz (voices)

    14. Tress MacNeille as Grandma Gertrude and Iggy (voices)

    15. Baoan Coleman as Mr. Hyunh (voice)

    16. Dom Irera as Mr. Potts (voice)

    17. Michael Hollick as Mr. Kokoshka (voice, replacing the late Steve Viksten respectively)

    18. Mary Scheer as Mrs. Kokoshka (voice)

    19. Nika Futterman as Olga Pataki (voice)

    20. Maurice LaMarche as Mr. Pataki (voice)

    21. Kath Soucie as Mrs. Pataki and Mrs. Berman (voices)

    22. Ice Cube as Harvey the Mail Man (voice, replacing the late Lou Rawls respectively)

    23. Corey Burton as Rex Smythe Higgins (voice, replacing the late Tony Jay respectively)

    24. Avriel Epps as Timberly Johanssen (voice)

    25. Phil LaMarr as Jamie-O Johanssen (voice)

    26. Rick Fitts as Mr. Johanssen (voice)

    27. Shari Belafonte as Mrs. Johanssen (voice)

    28. Dan Butler as Mr. Simmons and Mr. Sawyer (voice)

    29. David Wohl as Principal Wartz and Mr. Berman (voices)

    30. Mary Gross as Sheena’s Aunt Shelly (voice)

    31. James Keane as Mr. Green (voice)

    32. Elizabeth Ashley as Mrs. Vitello (voice)

    33. Craig Bartlett as Brainy, Miles Shortman and Abner (voices)

    34. Antoinette Stella as Stella Shortman (voice)

    35. Carlos Alazraqui as Eduardo (voice)

    36. Brian Doyle Murray as La Sombra (voice)

  10. Sekele says:

    They must be pretty desperate

  11. Yefta says:

    Hell…..its about time.

  12. Larry says:

    This is a gerat show y not make a hey Arnold grown up,like they did with Rugrats,but this movie I hope it is not ruind by today’s standards for kids shows, but shows like catdog, Drake and Josh,zoe101, Phil of the future, Jimmy Neutron,and a lot of others will be hard to make better those where once in a life time creations and will not be able to recreate in today’s standards but if and when it happens I will hope I can watch it like I did as a kid

  13. Ted says:

    Off topic is getting tiresome. Say something meaningful.

  14. Dude, this is what the Hey Arnold! Save The Jungle Movie!! 100,000 People!! FB page had been fighting for!

  15. mykono says:

    I hope the movie is the same one I saw mention of from some time back that was going to reunite Arnold with his parents. It was always a major bummer that we never got to find out for sure what happened to them. I think I even signed a petition meant to try and convince Nickelodeon that Hey Arnold still had more than enough fans to make the movie worth the costs and effort to make.

    Though, my biggest concern will be voices. I hope they do a good job at that, getting original actors back when possible and finding good replacements for the kids who are too old to do the same voices. Hey Arnold tried to be different that way, by having actual kids voice all the kids, rather than having adults do it all, so by now all the kids are grown up and likely don’t sound the same as they used to. While I understand the situation, it will still be hard to watch the new movie if all the characters have very noticeably different voices.

  16. Dana woolery says:

    Im so happy that the juggle movies finally being made!

    But super disappointed that it will be a tv movie and not theatrical like it was orignaly intended to be!

  17. neil shafer says:

    Nickelodeon, already did a hey arnold movie, it was a failure.

    • mykono says:

      Sadly, that movie not doing well is exactly why we never got the one this article says is currently in the works. Because it did poorly, they felt doing the second one wouldn’t be worthwhile and canned it. Hopefully this new movie is the exact same one originally planned way back, so we can get some closure on certain things.

    • Robert Moody says:

      well yes they did, but they where going to do a another to end the Show. so we can find out what happened to his parents. they left us on a 11 year cliffhanger

  18. Justsomechick says:

    Yes good finally! I can’t wait and hope for nothing but the best for this project.

  19. Jordan says:

    Are you guys gonna keep it the same like the original series and not make it stupid like teen titens go and crap because it would suck to ruin the best 90s and 00s show of all time and no offense if it is stupid you’d most likely wouldn’t get that many views

  20. James Smith says:

    Man, to hell with Hey Arnold! I want my Aaahh!!! Real Monsters TV Movie!

  21. Ryan Webster says:

    I really don’t want to see my childhood favorites ruined by modern jokes and toilet humor. Those old shows had tactful humor and taught real lessons. Today’s cartoons are pure crap. I don’t want Hey Arnold or other old nicktoons to become that.

    • Straw Hat says:

      If the original creators are involved, I don’t think this will be a problem.

      • Eddy says:

        I wouldn’t necessarily say that just because the creator is involved means it will be good. Look at The Hobbit movies, and that newer CGI Spongebob film. Those weren’t the best and they involved the original creators as well. I’m just saying, don’t give your hopes up; people change.

    • Chris says:

      Absolutely. Cartoons like Ren & Stimpy and Rocko were above toilet humor. And all cartoons today are crap. I mean, Gravity Falls, Steven Universe, and Avatar are soooo terrible. *sarcasm*

      Whine when your precious 90s are brought back (you are just automatically assuming Hey Arnold will be terrible). Whine about the “crap” new shows; there’s no pleasing some of nostalgidiots. Nostalgia makes you very blind indeed.

  22. Louis says:

    Another show would also be great to bring back is the adventures of Jimmy Nutron

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