You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Toons take a holiday as live-action powers Junior

Skeins aimed at tweens, teens become appealing int'l properties

As buyers and content providers prepare to converge on Cannes for the two-day screenfest Mipcom Junior, the biggest buzz is the lack of buzz.

“There’s been a tremendous amount of shakeout in the business and the broadcasters are buying more selectively now than they have in the past,” explains DIC chairman Andy Heyward. “Producers are keeping things closer to their chests.”

Even so, some loud murmuring can still be heard. While animation remains the primary fuel that powers kids television, live-action series aimed at tweens and teens have come into their own in recent years with programs such as “Degrassi: The Next Generation,” “The Suite Life of Zack & Cody,” “Lizzie McGuire,” “That’s So Raven,” “Unfabulous” and “Zoey 101” becoming very appealing international properties. It’s a trend that’s expected to continue.

“We are hearing more and more that there’s growing interest globally for live-action kids and family programming,” says Disney Channel Intl. president Rich Ross. “As you’re looking around, there hasn’t been an animated hit in a while.

” ‘Yu-Gi-Oh’ (which aired in the U.S. on Kids WB) was the last big anime hit. The biggest animated hits internationally currently (are) Nickelodeon’s ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ and ‘Fairly Odd Parents,’ but you haven’t really seen a big hit after that. I think the market is starting to appreciate kids getting older and that’s why live-action programming is doing well.”

But attracting the upper end of the kids demo requires more sophisticated storytelling and authentic voices. It’s no coincidence the creative forces behind these shows happen to include many of the hottest producers in the children’s biz at the moment.

Among the shows expected to generate a lot of attention at Mipcom Junior is “Darcy’s Wild Life,” from Stan Rogow (“Lizzie McGuire,” “Flight 29 Down,” “State of Grace”), offered internationally by Granada. In the series, a pampered Malibu teen (Sara Paxton) must adjust to the culture shock of moving to the country. “Darcy” has become a surprise hit in the U.S., and Granada has high expectations.

MarVista Entertainment will launch “Makaha Surf” on the Croisette. Skein is from uberproducers David Brookwell and Sean McNamara, the team behind Disney Channel hits “Even Stevens,” “Phil of the Future” and “That’s So Raven.” Airing Stateside on Nickelodeon teen channel the N, the gritty series follows four girls pursuing their dream of becoming world-class surfers in a decidedly male-dominated sport.

Of particular note is that one of the writers on the series is former “Beverly Hills, 90210” co-producer Matt Dearborn. Likewise, Discovery Kids reality hit “Endurance,” a teen version of “Survivor,” was created by hot primetime reality producer J.D. Roth (“Beauty and the Geek,” “The Biggest Loser”).

Ross says more primetime writers and producers are migrating to kids’ entertainment. “The biggest change in the business is not so much the exec producers, it’s the writing talent. The kids nets have really come of age. We’ve had people coming up off of ‘Shrek’ and ‘Friends.’ ”

But while well-known producers can help generate interest in a show, content remains king, stresses DIC chair Heyward. “You could have a producer who brings you a discriminating cutting-edge product and the next product that comes from that producer is really cliched. We don’t look at the producer; we look at the product, the technology that is alongside it, the storytelling ability of the creator. In the end, it all depends on your product.”

The increased competitiveness in the kids market has prompted Heyward to adjust the way his company will do business this year, including doing some reconnaissance prior to the market.

“We’re doing a pre-Mipcom round where we’ll visit the U.K., Italy, France, Germany and Spain to see all the key broadcasters in advance in their own territories before we go to Cannes because there’s just not enough time at the market anymore. You have maybe 15 or 20 minutes in the little booth and everyone is rushing and thinking about something else. By the time you get settled, you only have a few minutes to try and do a proper presentation, which you really can’t. So this year we’ll just use Mipcom to finalize our deals.”

More Scene

  • Karl Lagerfeld'Lagerfeld Confidential' Photocall at the

    Karl Lagerfeld Remembered at Costume Designers Guild Awards

    The death of fashion and costume designer Karl Lagerfeld cast somewhat of a shadow over the usually jubilant Costume Designers Guild Awards — the only award show where clothes literally steal the spotlight away from actors — which was held at the Beverly Hilton on Tuesday night. Here it was obvious that Lagerfeld’s impact on [...]

  • Kate Bosworth'Nona' film premiere, New York,

    Kate Bosworth Helps Launch Campaign for Female Filmmakers

    In her 20-year career in Hollywood, Kate Bosworth has starred in blockbusters like “Superman Returns” as well as indie darlings like 2014’s “Still Alice.” But the actress has always had a desire to get more involved from the ground up. Now, she is partnering with Women In Film and Chloe Wine Collection to launch the [...]

  • Amandla Stenberg and Sofia CarsonVanity Fair

    Oscar Week Kicks Off With Vanity Fair's New Hollywood Party

    The night was definitely still young Tuesday at Vanity Fair’s New Hollywood party in Los Angeles. The magazine kicked off Oscar week with a party — the first of its three-event Campaign Hollywood series — at Ysabel in West Hollywood to celebrate new and emerging talent. Co-hosted by Yalitza Aparicio, Henry Golding and Amandla Stenberg [...]

  • Oscars Ultimate Party Guide

    Oscars Ultimate Party Guide 2019

    Welcome to Oscar week. It’s the time of year when Hollywood’s film industry celebrates all things movies. But it’s certainly not just the big show everyone is looking forward to. With voting closed, it’s all about the parties now. Who’s doing what and where and when are they doing it are the questions everyone is [...]

  • Yalitza AparicioTeen Vogue Young Hollywood Party,

    'Roma' Star Yalitza Aparicio, 'Central Park Five's' Jharrel Jerome Sound Off on Trump

    Yalitza Aparicio recently reunited with Alfonso Cuarón, who directed her in “Roma,” for a W magazine photo project that featured her standing at various barriers built at the border between Mexico and the United States. The message? “You can make a name for yourself despite the differences,” Aparicio told Variety on Friday at Teen Vogue’s Young [...]

  • Karl LagerfeldChanel Paris-Londres 2007/8 Show, London,

    Legendary Fashion Designer Karl Lagerfeld Dies at 85

    Karl Lagerfeld, the fashion icon – and iconoclast – who outfitted and photographed such stars as Nicole Kidman and Lady Gaga, has died. He was 85. Lagerfeld died in Paris, fashion house Chanel said. Although his health had been failing, he kept working up to his death, issuing instructions regarding Fendi’s fall ready-to-wear collection, which [...]

  • Eric Wareheim, 'The Simpsons' E.P. Matt

    Beefsteak Gathers Comedy Bigwigs for Meat and Mayhem

    The masterminds behind Beefsteak, a debauched tribute to the meaty arts that raises thousands for the Los Angeles Food Bank, switch things up each year so that guests are never bored. Organized by comedy players including Eric Wareheim, “The Simpsons” executive producer Matt Selman, and ABC Studios VP of comedy Cort Cass with Redbird chef Neal [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content