Kids round-up: Jellyfish names originals MD; Scholastic & Mainframe unveils kids’ horror show; Marblemedia hires ex-Disney child star

Natalie Llewellyn

Jellyfish named new MD of originals

UK-based animation studio Jellyfish Pictures has appointed Natalie Llewellyn as managing director of its children’s animation original production division Jellyfish Originals.

Llewellyn, who joined the company in 2018 as head of IP development, will now take lead on the creative and commercial efforts of the division and be responsible for driving the distribution, rights negotiation, financing and commercial strategy of its originals slate.

Jellyfish says that the move signifies its commitment to producing original children’s content and expansion of its overall offering to provide end-to-end production services and rights management for in-house projects and third-party IP.

“Since joining Jellyfish Pictures, Natalie’s eye for creative brilliance and commercial savviness has propelled our Originals brand to new heights, said Jellyfish Pictures CEO Phil Dobree. “Thanks to Natalie and her extensive global network of contacts across the children’s media industry, we have a solid slate of kids’ animation projects with an exciting amount of potential.”

Llewellyn added, “It’s an exciting time for children’s content creation and I’m delighted to be taking the helm at Jellyfish Originals – boosting our development slate, and further strengthening our commercial efforts in both distribution and rights management.”

Scholastic teams with Wow for kids’ horror series

US-based Scholastic Entertainment, the media division of multimedia publishing company Scholastic has partnered with Canada’s Wow Unlimited Media-owned Mainframe Studios to develop and produce a new animated horror for children titled JumpScare.

Man of Action Entertainment, the US writer collective behind Ben 10, has also been brought on to write and develop the series, which is aimed at 8-to-12-year-olds.

The show will feature adaptations of four stand-alone books published by Scholastic, as well as an original story from Man of Action.

Scholastic Entertainment president and chief strategy officer Iole Lucchese, SVP & general manager Caitlin Friedman and VP of creative development & TV production Jef Kaminsky will produce from Scholastic Entertainment, along with Mainframe president & CCO Michael Hefferon and SVP of content Gregory Little.

“The horror genre continues to be extremely popular and is always among our bestsellers. These four titles lend themselves perfectly to layered stories of personal discovery, filled with suspense and surprise twists and turns to keep readers on the edge of their seats,” said Lucchese.

AJ Trauth

Marblemedia hires former Disney child star to kids VP role

Canada and UK-based entertainment company Marblemedia has appointed former Even Stevens star AJ Trauth to the newly created role of VP of kids.

Based in LA and reporting to co-CEO Mark Bishop, Trauth will be responsible for helping to identify and develop original kids scripted projects.

Known for playing the character of Alan Twitty on the Disney series Even Stevens, Trauth went on to become an independent producer, working on projects such as The Fourth Stall with Walden Media.

“As our company and production slate continues to grow, it’s important to bring on seasoned executives like AJ Trauth who hold years of experience discovering the next generation of storytellers with first-hand experience as a child Disney actor himself. He possesses a vision of what the future may bring”, said Mark Bishop, co-CEO of Marblemedia.

Big Blue

‘Big Blue’ sails away with pre-sales

ABC ME in Canada and CTC Kids in Russia have picked up animated children’s series Big Blue in pre-sale broadcast deals with Toronto-based children’s content producer Guru Studio.

The 52 x 11-minute series is aimed at children ages 5-9 and was originally greenlit by CBC/Radio-Canada and is set to debut next year. The series following the underwater adventures of Lettie and Lemo and their quirky submarine crew as they explore a world beneath the waves.

“We’re excited to be unveiling this hilarious sci-fi comedy that is fronted by a refreshingly diverse cast of brave underwater explorers,” said Jonathan Abraham, VP of sales and business development at Guru Studio. “Big Blue drops young viewers into a wacky world of comic adventure, while underscoring the values of discovering our differences, and caring for each other and our shared home: this big blue planet.”

Ling Ling

FuturumKids lands in new HQ

Children’s animation prodco FuturumKids has established a new global headquarters in Gran Canaria, and set the recently announced Ling Ling as its first production at the studio.

As of 1 October, FuturumKids will be based in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, where its new HQ will house both the company’s main offices and a full animation studio.

The company says that the decision to locate here was based on a number of factors including tax breaks, incentives, labour availability and support on the ground.

The 52 x 11-minute CGI series Ling Ling was recently sghowcased at Cartoon Forum and tells the story of a lively panda recently arrived in Ireland from Shanghai and how she adjusts to life at her new school.

Francis Fitzpatrick, FuturumKids CEO, said: “This was a very tough decision as London and Dublin, where we have worked in the past, are both great places to produce animation. However, a strong package involving not only labour availability and local support but also tax breaks and attractive incentives made Las Palmas the strongest contender.”

The Treehouse Stories

Dandelooo sells slew of shows to Ameba TV

Canadian-based kids streamer Ameba TV has picked up a slew of titles from French production and animation studio Dandelooo.

The agreement sees The Treehouse Stories, Chico Chica Boumba, Ribbit’s Fantasy Riddles, Kiwi and the animated feature film Houdini headed to the platform, joining Ameba’s 2,200 growing hours of programming currently available to kids and families throughout the US and Canada.

“We are so excited to add these standout series, which already maintain a global young fan base, to our existing roster of quality kids programming,” said Tony Havelka, CEO of Ameba.

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