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The Wiggles of Oz

Lyric brings Australian preschool band to U.S.

SYDNEY — Dallas-based Lyric Studios has clinched a five-year deal to distribute Australian preschool band the Wiggles’ seven videos, eight CDs and new products Stateside.

Lyric senior sales and marketing veep Jeanne Olson Lyric this week was in Sydney to ink the act, in a deal brokered by Wiggles’ exec producer Wayne Covell, merchandising agent Fred Gaffney and Nelvana head of licensing/merchandising Sid Kaufman.

The Wiggles — Jeff Fatt, Anthony Field, Greg Page and Murray Cook — is a singing quartet sometimes referred to in Oz as the “fab four for the under 5s,” which plays an average of 500 concerts a year. Performing alongside the four are the characters Dorothy the Dinosaur, Wags the Dog, Henry the Octopus and Captain Feathersword.

The Wiggles has sold more than 800,000 CDs and 1.5 million videos Down Under for Oz pubcaster ABC and Roadshow Entertainment. It lensed a TV series for Kerry Stokes’ Seven Network Australia and the Disney Channel, while Fox released its movie (which grossed nearly $2 million) and shipped 300,000 units of the film for the video sell-through market. A second feature is in the cards.

The Lyric deal is the latest move to globally leverage successful Oz brands such as the moppet franchise “Bananas in Pajamas,” aiming at the enormous American preschool merchandising market.

Bidding war

In May, the Wiggles awarded North American licensing and merchandising rights to Toronto-based Nelvana for three years and its 80 or so music clips began airing on the Fox Family Channel mid-August as well as on Disney Channels in the U.K. and the Middle East.

Buena Vista Home Entertainment grabbed rights to the movie and videos for five years in the U.K., where the group will tour in March. A Wiggles TV series bows Jan. 2 on the U.K.’s GMTV, which has already ordered a second season. Fox Family Channel is considering buying the series for the U.S.

The quartet will tour the U.S. next summer, ahead of a fall release of Wiggles videos and music by Lyric, which is best known for its “Barney” brand. Lyric is also said to be discussing taking U.S. rights to the group’s movie with global sales agent Beyond.