Scholastic, PBS pair on ‘Maya’ series

Animated show to promote diversity, aid English skills

Scholastic Entertainment’s new series “The Misadventures of Maya and Miguel” has won a $14 million grant and a place on the PBS fall slate.

Animated “Misadventures” follows the titular 10-year-old Latino twins, with comedy revolving around Maya’s bumbling interference in the lives of her family and friends. Show emphasizes the importance of family and community.

The Corp. for Public Broadcasting allotted $9.2 million for the production of the children’s multimedia project — the largest such amount it has handed out. PBS and the Dept. of Education threw in $5 million more and Scholastic plans to invest in “Misadventures” as well.

Idea was first conceived by Scholastic Entertainment prexy Deborah Forte as a way to acknowledge cultural diversity and to marry it to a solid entertainment concept.

“If we weave it with educational goals, we could accomplish more than just the fun,” said Forte, who originally developed the skein for commercial TV.

While TV series is the project’s hub, Scholastic plans ancillary outreach to promote cultural diversity and improving English-language skills. An interactive Web site will allow viewers to share thoughts and practice English. Scholastic clubs and magazines will take themes from the show and make them relevant for kids when they’re not watching TV, said Forte.

Targeted at 6- to 8-year-olds, half-hour strip will be available in SAP; 65 segments of PBS’ first sitcom have been produced. Scholastic has assembled a national advisory board to help develop the program.

Disney’s “The Proud Family” and Nickelodeon series “Dora the Explorer” and “The Brothers Garcia” are among the other kiddie shows featuring Hispanic lead characters.