Cartoon Network will launch its preschool-targeted block, "Tickle U," Aug. 22, the network announced Wednesday at a press breakfast.
The weekday-morning franchise was created with business and branding in mind to provide a scheduling entry point on the network for 2- to 5-year-olds, something previously lacking in Cartoon’s business plan, according to general manager Jim Samples.
"The most important thing in order to build overall ratings is to have an entry point for them," Samples said.
The block, helmed by Cartoon Network Vice President of Development and Programming Alice Cahn, will feature FCC-friendly programming focused on humor and optimism, rather than traditional instructional fare.
Initial programming includes Firehouse Tales, in which young trucks learn how to be heroes; Gerald McBoing Boing, based on the Dr. Seuss character who can only speak in sound effects; and Gordon Gnome, a series about a garden gnome Cahn calls "Martha Stewart meets Bob the Builder."
The network will also launch "Get Animated," a PSA campaign to promote healthy lifestyles and address childhood obesity. Kicking off Feb. 28, the on-air, online, print and off-channel campaign will feature a 3-D, open-air backdrop called “Movement INK” against which live kids and characters from Cartoon’s roster will appear in spots during morning, afternoon and prime day-parts. Additional pro-social messages will appear on: GetAnimated.com, in nutrition and fitness computer animation programming created with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and during a 30-market tour of kids’ physical activities in May sponsored in partnership with Turner Network Sales and local cable affiliates.
The network also unveiled new programming and development deals:
- Krypto the Superdog, a comedic look at Superman’s pooch premiering April 4 at 9 a.m.
- The Life and Times of Juniper Lee, Real World: San Francisco cast member Judd Winick’s tale of an 11-year-old superhero girl who takes on the task of saving the world from evil premiering June 5;
- Friday-slated Camp Lazlo, a summer camp series about a monkey from the creators of Rocko’s Modern Life, premiering in July
- IGPX(Immortal Grand Prix), an anime show about pilots in 2048, premiering in the November in the Saturday-night anime-block Toonami
- My Gym Partner is a Monkey, husband and wife team co-creators Julie McNally Cahill and Tim Cahill’s offering about the Charles Darwin Middle School, where animals and kids are both students. It premieres early 2006.
- Cartoon's Toonami block will add Naruto, a third-quarter series about an antisocial boy-turned-ninja, and Bobobo-bo Bo-Bobo, a fourth-quarter action show about a superhero who can talk to hair.
- Atlanta-based comedy from Outkast rapper Andre 3000 is developing an as-yet-untitled show. Originally intended for Cartoon’s late-night block, Adult Swim, the program will likely debut in prime in 2006. Based off Andre’s own experiences as a child and music star, the show will follow a rapper who returns to his hometown to mentor kids at school.
On the returning front, micro-series Star Wars: Clone Wars, will premiere its third installment of new 12-minute episodes about characters from the movie franchise March 21, leading up to the May 19 premiere of the feature film Star Wars: Episode III.
Other returning shows include sophomore seasons of Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends and Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi in September and June, respectively, along with new seasons of veteran hits Ed, Edd n Eddy and Teen Titans, among others.
Cartoon Network, owned by Time Warner’s Turner Broadcasting System Inc. is currently seen in 87.3 million U.S. homes