Nelvana picks up ‘Dolittle’ TV rights

Animal doctor toons up

MONTREAL — Nelvana has acquired the production, distribution and merchandising licensing rights for animated TV programming based on the classic “Doctor Dolittle” books.

Nelvana obtained the rights to the 13-book series — written and illustrated by Hugh Lofting and first published 80 years ago — from Los Angeles-based Franklin Waterman Prods.

The books spawned two pics: the 1967 musical “Doctor Dolittle,” with Rex Harrison, and the 1998 comedy “Dr. Dolittle” with Eddie Murphy.

In addition, Nelvana has acquired the rights to publish new “Doctor Dolittle” books based on the TV shows it produces with the character. Show should be ready in a year or two.

The Nelvana “Doctor Dolittle” animated series will be developed in conjunction with Lofting’s son, Christopher, and Franklin Waterman Prods.

It is a key addition to the Nelvana roster, given that the Toronto-based company specializes in producing animated shows based on classic properties. Other Nelvana series include “Babar,” “Little Bear” and “Pippi Longstocking.”

“Doctor Dolittle is one of the great classic properties,” said Nelvana co-CEO Michael Hirsh. “… We believe this property is a promising addition to our classic and contemporary book-based portfolio, with great potential as an animated children’s series and a merchandising brand.”

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