Animation Diversification

New York — Cartoon Network will continue
to diversify its programming lineup
with live-action series and animated fare
as it seeks to compete in a crowded field
trying to appeal to a young, male audience
aged 6 to 11.

The network has increasingly supplemented
animated fare with live-action movies
and specials and said at its upfront presentation
here last week that it will add two new
scripted series. They are Unnatural History,
a comedy mystery series that follows the exploits
of a teenager with exceptional skills
who attends high school on the grounds of
The National Museum Complex in Washington,
D.C., and Tower Prep, a one-hour series
about a teen who wakes up trapped at a mysterious
prep school that offers no escape.

The network will also offer a live-action sequel
to its successful Scooby-Doo! The Mystery
movie this fall.

On the reality-series front, the network
later this year will launch My Dad’s a Pro, a
short-form series following Tony Gonzalez of
the National Football League’s Atlanta Falcons
and his 8-year-old son, Nikko.

Stuart Snyder, president and chief operating
officer of Turner Broadcasting’s Animation,
Young Adults and Kids Media division,
said the network is simply trying to offer the
most compelling content to its viewers.

“It’s about putting shows on the air and
finding the ones that connect with your audience,
whether it’s live action or animation,”
Snyder told Multichannel News. “Our
core will always be animation, but if we can
find great scripted or unscripted live action,
we’ll put it on the air.”

Cartoon will resurrect two veteran cartoon
franchises, Scooby-Doo and Looney
, for new series within its animation
slate. Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated will
showcase new thrillers for the Mystery Inc.
gang, while The Looney Tunes Show will feature
classic cartoon characters Bugs Bunny
and Daffy Duck.

Other animated projects include Robotomy,
about two teenage droids interacting
among human kids in high school; Secret
Mountain Fort Awesome, which follows underground
monsters shunned by humans;
Young Justice, a takeoff on cartoon’s Justice
League that showcases several teen superheroes
trying to earn their stripes: and Mad,
a sketch comedy produced in part by Mad

The network will jump into the awards
show arena in 2011 with Cartoon Network’s
Hall of Game
, honoring the best sports stars
and sports moments of the year as chosen
by the viewers.

Cartoon will put its best content up against
other cable competitors such as Disney XD,
Nickelodeon, Nicktoons and The Hub, the
forthcoming Discovery Communications/
Hasbro network partnership.

“The world is always changing and we’ll
always have lots of competition,” Snyder
said. “What we need to do is focus on what
we do best and we’ll be fine.”

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.