Viacom International Media Network made a recent live-action play with Bella and the Bulldogs, a comedy series about the titular teenage cheerleader Bella Dawson, who is played by The Haunted Hathaways’ Brec Bassinger. The twist is that the cheerleader becomes American football player when she decides to try out for quarterback of the school team.
The premise sets up a fish out of water dynamic as Bella figures out how to fit into the guys on the team. “Personally and professionally, I like the idea of girl going into that traditional boy’s environment, a girl in a boy’s world, giving them a run for their money,” says Caroline Beaton, senior VP, international programme sales, VIMN. “Even if you can’t relate to American football people will relate to high school sport and the challenge of being a girl in an alpha male environment.”
The show has a slight female skew, but has attracted a mixed audience; Bella is surrounded by the football guys in the team, but in testing was boy viewers’ favourite character.
The 20x30mins series, which targets 6-10s, comes from Gabriel Garza and Jonathan Butler, who were previously staff writers for The Haunted Hathaways, and they also exec produce alongside Jeff Bushell (Marvin Marvin).
It performed well in the US and had just launched on Nick internationally as MIPTV got underway in April. “Whether it’s preschool animation or live-action there are only so many slots and can only be one or two breakout hits per territory,” Beaton says. “But there is definitely space for a live-action hit at the moment.”
Nick in the US has renewed Bella for a second season.
The show: Bella and the Bulldogs
The distributor: Viacom International Media Networks
The producer: RoCart Inc
The broadcaster: Nickelodeon (US, international)
The concept: Sitcom about a cheerleader who becomes quarterback for her school football team
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