Nick OKs toon twosome

Cabler expected to announce pickups at upfronts

Nickelodeon has greenlit two animated series: CGI toon “Tak and the Power of Juju,” based on the THQ videogame, and the network’s first flash animation project, “El Tigre.”

Kids’ cabler is expected to announce the pickups Thursday during its upfront presentation to advertisers in New York. Both shows are set to premiere in early 2007.

Greenlight for “Tak” is the result of a collaboration long in the making between Nickelodeon and THQ. They partnered several years ago to kick-start a “Tak” franchise by first launching a videogame revolving around the titular character and later a TV series. Since the initial partnering, three “Tak” vidgames have been released with nearly 3 million units sold.

Nick has ordered 15 episodes of the cartoon developed by Jed Spingarn (“The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius”) and Avalanche Software.

“Tak” already lives in various other forms in the Nick universe. Character is featured in interstitial programming as well as in a comic strip in Nickelodeon magazine. Exec VP of development and original programming Marjorie Cohn said clips and character sketches from the upcoming skein will also bow online on Nick’s broadband channel, TurboNick, before the show’s linear network premiere.

Skein revolves around the adventures of a 14-year-old boy in a mythical jungle paradise. Hal Sparks will provide the voice of Tak, while Tommy Davidson and Colleen O’Shaughnessey will voice Tak’s friends Keeko and Jeera, respectively.

Nick also has picked up 13 episodes of “El Tigre,” a Mexican folk art-inspired comedy with a spaghetti Western twist from husband-wife team Jorge Gutierrez and Sandra Equihua (“El Macho”). Half-hour revolves around Manny Rivera, whose idols are a superhero and a supervillain — his father and grandfather, respectively.

Cohn said the look of the flash-animated show made it “pop” from other cartoons on the air. The character’s mischievousness was also infectious: “Manny’s struggle is that being good is good, but being bad is fun,” she said.