Kids roundup: HBO Max seeks ‘Squish’; Kids execs launch new prodco; Netflix picks up Xilam’s ‘Trico’


HBO Max seeks ‘Squish’

WarnerMedia-owned streamer HBO Max has acquired animated kids’ comedy Squish, following a deal with distributor Federation Kids & Family.

The 52 x 11-minute series is due to land on the US SVOD in Q1 of 2021. Produced by Federation-owned Cottonwood Media and Planeta Junior, and executive produced and developed by John Derevlany, the series is based on the books by authors Jennifer and Matthew Holm, about the everyday adventures of a grade school amoeba.

To date, the series has also sold to broadcasters including as VRT and RTBF in Belgium, Wow and Quebecor in Canada, Hop TV in Israel, Tooniverse in Korea, NEOX in Spain.

“We are delighted to announce our first deal with HBO Max, a great partner and superb platform for Squish, said Monica Levy, head of sales, Federation Kids & Family. “This unique slapstick comedy is perfectly timed as younger viewers try to navigate their way through this pandemic, especially as all the central characters in the series are extremely ‘endearing’ amoeba, viruses and bacteria.”

L-R: Chris Dicker, Lena Byrne and John Reynolds

Kids execs launch new prodco

Leading kids’ TV execs Chris Dicker, Lena Byrne and John Reynolds, have teamed up to launch Sow You Entertainment – a new production company specialising in children’s and family content. 

The new startup, which is described as an “original ideas incubator” for creators, has already secured a development deal with an unnamed global streaming partner and is in discussions with other parties on a variety of projects, which encompass pre-school, kids’ and tween programming, as well as a limited TV series concept – all at various stages of development.

Chris Dicker, creator of Amazon Prime’s Jessy And Nessy and co-creator of Nickelodeon’s Becca’s Bunch, will showrun, as well as executive produce alongside Lena Byrne, who brings a wealth of experience from her work with global networks and streamers. John Reynolds, meanwhile, has more than 25 years experience in senior roles, and will be responsible for all commercial activities, including the financing of the development and production slates.

“We are in the business of ideas and ideas never stopped during lockdown. That’s when we came together to form this new company”, said Dicker. “We see Sow You as a place where both ideas and talent come to grow. There is a real emphasis on the ‘You’ in our name and we look to nurture creativity and celebrate authenticity. We want creators to have a real sense of partnership, as we bring these projects to life together.”


Netflix picks up Xilam’s ‘Trico’

Netflix has acquired French studio Xilam Animation’s kids’ series Trico as a branded original, to air in early 2022.

The 78 x 7-minute CGI non-verbal slapstick comedy follows a one-time globetrotting sheep who finds life on the mountain pasture a little too peaceful – and delights in shaking things up.

Xilam retains second window global linear television distribution and merchandising rights to Trico.

Marc du Pontavice, CEO of Xilam Animation and executive producer on the series, said: “We’re thrilled to be undertaking this new collaboration with Netflix and feel honoured by the trust they have placed in Xilam’s talents.”


Cosmos-Maya strikes Spectrum Indonesian co-pro

India and Singapore-based animation studio Cosmos-Maya has partnered with Indonesian production house Spectrum Film to co-produce new 3D animated kids show.

The 52 x 11-minute Putra is the story of a modern-day Indonesian boy who becomes an action hero. It is currently in production for delivery in 2021.

Cosmos-Maya says that it considers this to be a significant deal that will help the company to establish itself in the Indonesian market, which has nearly 70 broadcast stations and boasts the fourth largest audience in the world.

Spectrum holds the rights for Indonesia and Sri Lanka with Cosmos-Maya handling the rest of the world and both companies are in advanced talks with broadcast partners.

Anish Mehta, CEO of Cosmos-Maya commented: “We have been in business with Spectrum Film for many years for distribution of our Indian content in the Indonesian market, and we’re glad to partner with them on this watershed project.

Putra gives us the opportunity to directly cater to a large, rich, digitally-advancing and diverse market allowing us to make homegrown content tailormade for local consumption in a foreign territory.”

Rajesh Jagtiani, CEO of Spectrum Film, added: “This is just the start and I’m sure the relationship between our two companies will create several different and interesting projects to feed the ever-increasing demand of animated content.”

Marc Rosenberg

Genius Brands hires toy exec to senior role

Genius Brands International has appointed toy industry marketing exec Marc Rosenberg to oversee its growing slate of kids programming.

Rosenberg has been appointed to the newly created executive role of president of global brands and chief marketing officer at the US-based producer and distributor, which recently launched the Kartoon Channel in the US.

The former head of marketing at Hasbro Toys and Tiger Electronics, Rosenberg led global marketing teams for toy brands including Furby and GigaPets and recently served as chief marketing officer at Zizzle, where he help lead product launches for licensed toy lines including Disney’s Pirates Of The Caribbean and High School Musical.

Rosenberg will continue to own his Edge Desk business, with the current management operating the day-to-day business with his oversight.

Genius Brands’ chairman & CEO Andy Heyward commented: “With Rainbow RangersStan Lee’s Superhero KindergartenLlama LlamaStan Lee Universe, and new properties shortly to be announced, Marc’s pedigree and leadership will ensure that we maximize revenue generation from the powerful brands we will be bringing to market.”


Disney+ Hotstar makes 104-episode ‘Dabangg’ order

Indian streaming platform Disney+ Hotstar has acquired the streaming rights to 104 episodes of animation studio Cosmos-Maya and Arbaaz Khan Productions’ animated series Dabangg.

Based on the Bollywood franchise of the same name, the series chronicles the day-to-day life of police officer Chulbul Pandey and his fight to keep his city safe in the face of evil.

The first 52 x 30-minute season will start airing in summer 2021 on Disney+ Hotstar.

Anish Mehta, CEO of Cosmos-Maya, commented: “With Dabangg, we are venturing into untapped space in the Indian animation market in a narrative format that provides audiences with familiarity and novelty.

“We are glad to have found a long-term business partner Disney+ Hotstar which started our relationship by onboarding 234 half hour episodes of our immensely popular title Selfie With Bajrangi.”


Virgin lands ten Moonbug shows

Virgin Media TV has acquired ten children’s shows from London-based production and distribution firm Moonbug Entertainment for broadcast in the UK.

Blippi, Little Baby Bum, Playtime With Twinkle, Go Buster, Toddler Fun Learning, Digley And Dazey, Dr Poppy, Supa Strikas, My Magic Pet Morphle and Gecko’s Garage are all set to land on the platform in mid-October.

As part of the deal, Virgin Media will exclusively get a selection of new Blippi episodes a month before they air on other platforms in the UK.

“We couldn’t be more delighted to enter this strategic partnership with Virgin Media, one of the leading platforms in the UK,” said Nicolas Eglau, head of EMEA & APAC at Moonbug. “Brands like Blippi and Morphle have become household names in the UK and by bringing them to Virgin Media customers, even more families will have the opportunity to enjoy these blockbuster titles.”

Scream Street

CBBC plans second visit to ‘Scream Street’

The UK’s CBBC has picked up a second season of spooky stop-motion animated series Scream Street.

The 26 x 11-minute series is produced by Coolabi Group and based on the book series of the same name by Tommy Donbavand, featuring a host of monstrously friendly characters.

The series is helmed by showrunner Giles Pilbrow (Spitting Image) and co-produced and animated by Factory (Clangers).

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