Cartoon, WB launch 9 original animated, live-action shows
By Allison Romano -- Broadcasting & Cable, 2/29/2004 7:00:00 PM
Calling all robots, superheroes, and imaginary friends. Cartoon Network will introduce six original shows this year. And corporate cousin Kids WB! is adding three, two animated and one live-action. Make room for the zany and the brainy.
Meet Cartoon's Megas XLR, a 20-year-old grease monkey who discovers a fighting robot in a New Jersey landfill. Its May 1 debut will anchor the net's Toonami tween action block, which moves to Saturday nights from weekday afternoons.
On the crime front, superheroes from The Justice League star in Justice League Unlimited, in which Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern team up with lesser-known heroes.
Speaking of crime busters, Cartoon is promoting girl power to capture the girl market. Atomic Betty (left), slated for September, features brainy Betty, a galactic superhero. Come February 2005, she'll have company, The Life and Times of Juniper Lee. The show's 11-year-old namesake is a regular girl with a unique pedigree: Her family is adept at fighting mischief and chaos. And Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi, arriving in December, will star two young Japanese pop singers.
"This doesn't mean we are trying to be the leader in girls, but we want to attract more. And keep the lead we have with boys," says Cartoon SVP/GM Jim Samples. Nickelodeon and Disney Channel are typically stronger draws with girls.
Cartoon will kick off Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends with a 90-minute premiere episode July 16. The animated effort, the brainchild of Powerpuff Girls creator Craig McCracken, concerns an 8-year-old boy and his imaginary friend—who is sent to a home for imaginary friends. Foster's Home returns as a regular series Sept. 3.
So successful are two current Cartoon hits, Teen Titans and Code Name: Kids Next Door, they have enough episodes to run as strips. Teen Titans will anchor the net's new afternoon boy-action block. Miguzi and Kids Next Door will run in prime. Cartoon also picked up classic series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Over on Kids WB!, reality has hit. Reality shows, that is. The hidden-camera Gagsters, which premieres this summer, features kids pulling pranks on unsuspecting adults. The net is also experimenting with its first live-action original movie. Zolar will star three action-sports athletes who discover that their new teammate is an alien.
On the animated front, Kids WB! offers Da Boom Crew, in which four orphans travel to another universe and find themselves living in their favorite videogame, and The Batman. This round, the famed superhero is in his mid 20s, living in a bachelor pad. The swinging single will eventually air on Cartoon Network.
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