Oz’s ‘Wiggles’ ready to warble in U.S., Europe

Taking their hugely successful act on the road

SYDNEY — Another phenomenally successful Aussie pre-school group is about to follow the trail of “Bananas in Pyjamas” and invade the U.S. and Europe.

It’s “The Wiggles,” a singing quartet formed in 1991 sometimes referred to in Oz as the “fab four for the under-fives.” The band plays an average of 500 concerts a year to halls packed with anklebiters and their parents.

Performing alongside Jeff Fatt, Anthony Field, Greg Page and Murray Cook are the Barney-esque character Dorothy the Dinosaur, Wags the Dog, Henry the Octopus and Captain Feathersword.

Last year, a “Wiggles” movie distributed by 20th Century Fox, grossed a healthy A$2.7 million ($1.9 million); Fox is releas-ing it on video next month. A second feature will be shot next April for a Christmas 1999 release.

Cross-promotional tour set

The foursome plan a cross-promotional tour of the U.S. in September.

This follows a recent deal with Buena Vista Home Entertainment for the U.K. homevid release of the group’s six videos, which have sold 1.4 million units Down Under for pubcaster ABC and Roadshow Entertainment. BVHE in the U.K. also grabbed rights to all Wiggles non-feature videos for five years.

The group has concluded deals with the Disney Channels in the U.K. and Middle East to air their clips, while a 13-part, half-hour series will be made for the U.K.’s GM-TV for airing next year, according to Wiggles exec producer Wayne Cavell.

A separate 13-part half-hour series will screen on Oz’s Disney Channel and Kerry Stokes’ Seven Network Australia later this year.