National Theater for Children and Big Fish Entertainment are partnering to
bring something new to syndication: a sketch comedy show targeted at tweens.
‘Saturday Night Live' meets the ‘Electric
Company,'" says Ward Eames, Minneapolis-based NTC's president
the show features actors in sketches that teach 13- to 16-year olds about such
serious subjects as how to balance a budget, how to deal with peer pressure and
bullying, and how to research big purchases.
have nine young comedians playing hundreds of crazy characters," says
Eames, who's a cousin of the famous designer of the same last name.
"Much of that is set to music and accompanied by videos with local
Minneapolis indie bands singing original songs about saving money or smoking
prevention all in a fun, hip way."
started the NTC when he was just 19 and attending college. More than 30 years
later, he's built it into an educational theater company with a national
reach. More than 60 troops of actors tour the country, performing their
sketches at schools. The troops are sponsored by corporations -- such as
Wachovia or Dole - who want to be behind such messages as "save
your money," or "eat your veggies."
recently realized he had the makings of a good kids' show, and he brought
his idea to a local advertising agency, Compass Point Media. Compass Point
connected Eames with a New York City-based distributor, Big Fish Entertainment,
and the two quickly became business partners.
the marketplace, I knew there was a need for fresh, true educational and
informational kids' programming," says David Bulhack, president of
Big Fish Entertainment, a company he spun out of IMG Media three years ago.
"The key for us was not only bringing new first-run E/I programming to
the market but also the ability to build these bridges between local affiliates
and schools, teachers and parents through the live show."
M@dAbout is now sold in more than 80% of
the country, to station groups such as Tribune, Sinclair, Lin, Newport, Acme,
Hearst and Cox. Season one, which premieres Sept. 6, will consist of 22
original half-hour episodes. Big Fish sold the show on an all-barter basis,
with 3 ½ minutes of local advertising time and 3 ½ minutes of national time.
Trifecta Entertainment will sell the show's national advertising.