Fox in a family way

Animated 'Buffy' will take root for net in 2002

NEW YORK — Fox has landed “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” — at least the animated version.

While the primetime fate of “Buffy” remains up in the air (Daily Variety, Feb. 27) Fox Kids Network is developing “Buffy The Vampire Slayer: The Animated Series” with “Buffy” creator Joss Whedon.

The project was one of many announced at Fox Kids and Fox Family Channel’s upfront presentation for press in Gotham on Wednesday.

Maureen Smith, prexy of Fox Family Channel and Fox Kids, said “Buffy” is on the fast track and could be on the air as early as February 2002. If it moves ahead to series, Smith said the net would order 26 episodes. While it will be based on the live-action drama, the animated half-hour “Buffy,” which would air Saturday mornings, will focus more on high school storylines.

Smith also said that the net recently got a commitment from its affiliates guaranteeing that Fox Kids will continue to air six days a week.

Including “Buffy” and the previously announced “The Ripping Friends” (Daily Variety, Oct. 12), Fox Kids has committed to adding more than 300 new episodes and eight new series to its Saturday morning and weekday afternoon programming for its 2001-2002 season. The new shows are:

  • “Fox Kids Big Adventure,” a six-episode reality game show aimed at teens. “It combines Indiana Jones adventure with the best of today’s reality TV,” Smith said.

  • “Outer Dimension”: Fox Kids has ordered 26 episodes of this live-action series with CGI elements from Tom Lynch Co.

  • “Evolution”: An animated series based on the upcoming DreamWorks’ feature film. Fox Kids has ordered 26 episodes of the adventure series from DIC Entertainment.

  • “Shinzo”: Fox Kids has ordered 30 episodes of the anime series from Saban Entertainment.

  • “Transformers: Robots in Disguise”: Asatsu has produced 39 episodes of this half-hour series featuring Transformer Car robots.

  • “What’s With Andy,” an animated series based on the book series “Just Kidding,” by Andy Griffiths. Cinegroupe has produced 26 half-hour episodes.

Meanwhile, on the Fox Family front, the cable net has six original telepics and 12 original series in development. It’s the network’s first development initiative under Tom Halleen, the cabler’s new head of primetime programming and development.

Included in the net’s development slate are an untitled half-hour series from Debbie Allen written by Jennifer Wharton (“Touched By An Angel”); “Clarice Loves Frankie,” a half-hour skein from writer David Raether (“Roseanne”); “Exes,” a half-hour series from Greenblatt Janollari written by Lisa Albert (“Living Single”); “The Other Alex Harper,” a half-hour series from Allan Katz (“Roseanne”) and “Quincy’s Quads,” written by Ehrich Van Lowe (“The Cosby Show”) and Lore Kimbrough (“Living Single”).

On the reality front, Fox Family is developing three reality series: “Pet Games,” “Breakout” and “Back in Time.”

While Fox Family is geared to adults in primetime, during the day the net targets “tweens,” or 9-14 year olds. Smith said the net will add more than 270 new episodes and four new series to its 2001-2002 daytime slate, including the previously announced “Braceface,” produced by and featuring the voice of Alicia Silverstone, and “So Little Time,” starring Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen.

The other new series are “Da Mob,” an animated adventure series featuring a teenage hip-hop band and “Totally Spies,” an animated comedy that Smith described as “Clueless meets ‘Charlie’s Angels.’ ” Fox Family is also developing “The Alley,” a “tween” music series that will feature glow-in-the-dark bowling.

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