×

Mayim Bialik Will Visit Kid-Focused Sprout in Holiday Takeover

Young viewers who tuned in to kiddie-cabler Sprout at holiday time in recent years would likely be treated to a special featuring the famous kids’ character Caillou or an animated film all about the Gruffalo, a made up half grizzly bear and half buffalo from a favorite book by author Julia Donaldson.

Starting this week, they’ll see a more typical cast of characters.

In the NBCUniversal network’s latest bid to promote its own original programming over acquired content, Sprout will for the first time stock its holiday programming with special shows based on five of its newest series. Starting November 25, Sprout will debut “Terrific Trucks Save Christmas,” “Ruff-Ruff, Tweet and Dave: A Christmas Adventure” “Noddy Toyland Detective: The Case of the Snow Mystery,” “Dot: The Holiday Tree” and “Nina’s World: Hanukkah Adventure.” The last will feature a voice cameo by actress Mayim Bialik, known for her roles in “Blossom” and “The Big Bang Theory,” among other programs.

“We are fully committed to originals for all sorts of reasons, including the fact that they are financially better for us,” said Amy Friedman, senior vice president of programming and development for Sprout, in an interview. “We took five fan favorites and really invested in these premium holiday specials, which we think will serve us for years to come.”

Although Sprout launched in 2005 as a joint-venture cable network owned by PBS, Comcast, Sesame Workshop and Apax Partners, it is just now really starting to forge a more definite identity. The network had subsisted on some old PBS shows, a few hand-me-downs that once ran elsewhere and a few originals, including “The Good Night Show” and “The Sunny Side Up Show,” featuring a playful anthropomorphic chicken named Chica. In the past two years, however, the network – now owned outright by NBCUniversal – has worked to develop programs it also controls outright. The strategy has had a payoff, said Friedman, citing an 8% increase in viewership by kids between 2 and 5.

In one of the five specials, “Terrific Trucks Save Christmas,” the titular vehicles fight back against a local businessman who wants to ruin a hundred-year-old Christmas tree-raising tradition. In “Nina’s World: Hanukkah Adventure,” Nina and friends learn about the Jewish holiday and its traditions. In “Ruff-Ruff, Tweet and Dave: A Christmas Adventure,” the show’s three protagonists set off to return a hat to Santa Claus. In “Noddy Toyland Detective: The Case of the Snow Mystery,” Noddy examines how to make it snow on Christmas Day. In two special episodes of “Dot,” the young heroine sets off to replace lost holiday decorations and write a holiday song that will appeal to people of all denominations.

The specials start Friday, November 25.

In tandem with the specials, Sprout will launch an on-air campaign to call attention to being present in the moments that families spend together. The “Be Present” initiative will show live-action spots depicting funny and touching moments among real people. The campaign begins Thanksgiving weekend and will run through New Year’s Eve.

 

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • T.J. Dillashaw, right, kicks Cody Garbrandt

    Disney Plans UFC Broadcast for FX

    UFC matches will return to FX  – but not on a permanent basis. ESPN has been showing preliminary bouts to UFC pay-per-view events for the last while on ESPN and ESPN2, and then showing the main card on its ESPN+ subscription video service. In September, the early lineup will air on FX, which the UFC [...]

  • George RR Martin

    George R.R. Martin Says HBO's 'Game of Thrones' Ending Won't Influence Future Novels

    Geroge R.R. Martin is sticking to his original plan when it comes to the future of “Game of Thrones.” In an interview with The Observer, Martin claimed that HBO’s controversial ending for the series would have no affect on the endings of the last two novels. “No, it doesn’t. It doesn’t change anything at all,” [...]

  • Listen: 'Pennyworth' Producer Talks Delving into

    Listen: 'Pennyworth' Executive Producer Talks Delving into Alfred's Backstory

    Bruno Heller may have served as an executive producer on the Batman-inspired series “Gotham” for the past five years, but it’s actually real-life people (not superheroes) that intrigue the producer the most. It’s for that exact reason that Heller’s newest series finds him exploring the origin stories of Batman’s butler Alfred in the Epix drama [...]

  • "Trust Issues" - Dylan and Lizzie

    'Instinct' Canceled After Two Seasons

    CBS has canceled “Instinct” after two seasons. Series creator Michael Rauch announced the cancellation Friday on Twitter, writing, “I’m very sad to relay the news that @instinctcbs won’t be renewed for a 3rd season. We will double up this Sunday and our season/series finale will be Aug 25.” Rauch also thanked series stars Alan Cumming [...]

  • Maisel Day

    My Mostly OK Maisel Day (Column)

    When Amazon announced its first-ever Maisel Day, I was intrigued. For one day, Aug. 15, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” fans and Angelenos (fangelenos?) could hit up various restaurants, theaters and retailers throughout Los Angeles for special deals, all at 1959 prices. Among the gems: $2.50 makeovers, $0.99 pastrami sandwiches and $0.30 for a gallon of [...]

  • Nordisk Film & TV Fond Announces

    Nordisk Film & TV Fond Backs Joachim Trier, Ole Bornedal, Yellow Bird

    Nordisk Film & TV Fond has announced three features, two series and a documentary set to receive $1.4m in financing, as well as distribution, dubbing and cultural initiative support recipients. Doing so, it highlights some of the key titles moving forward in the Nordic region. Already backed by the Danish Film Institute’s largest ever grant [...]

  • TV News Roundup: 'Silicon Valley' Final

    TV News Roundup: 'Silicon Valley's' Final Season Sets October Premiere Date

    In today’s roundup, “Silicon Valley” returns to HBO on Oct. 27 and Quibi greenlights a new cooking competition show “Dismantled.” DATES The fifth season of Netflix‘s “Peaky Blinders” will premiere on the streamer Oct. 4. The newest season will continue to follow one gangster family in the lawless streets of Birmingham, UK during the midst [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content