New York -- Boosting its original programming, Cartoon
Network is adding four new primetime animated series through 2001, and it will also become
the exclusive television home of Warner Bros. classic Looney Tunes this fall.
At its upfront presentation last week in Manhattan, Cartoon
officials unveiled plans to debut the first of the four new original half-hour shows, Sheep
in the Big City,this fall, ordering 13 episodes of the series.
As Cartoon Network Worldwide president Betty Cohen
explained, the show is "about a sheep on the lam." Comparing it to Rocky
& Bullwinkle,Cohen said Sheep chronicles the adventures of a sheep
who runs away from his farm and hides out in the city because "a top-secret military
organization" is after him.
Cartoon will allow viewers to choose its second original
half-hour show. During the network's "Cartoon Cartoon Weekend," a 52-hour
marathon stunt this August, the audience will decide which of three series pilots will get
the go-ahead to premiere as a series in the fall of 2001. The voting event has been dubbed
"Voice Your Choice" weekend.
Cartoon then plans to premiere its final two new half-hour
original primetime shows next summer.
In total, Cartoon has 25 series pilots in development now.
As part of its long-term strategy, the network had made a $450 million, multiyear
commitment to original animation.
During the upfront, Cohen told media buyers and advertisers
Cartoon will become the exclusive TV home, and not just the cable home, of the entire
Warner Bros. Looney Toons library this fall. That trove includes nearly 900
animated shorts starring characters such as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Road Runner, Sylvester
Warner Bros. and Cartoon are corporate siblings, both owned
by Time Warner Inc. As a result of the deal between the two entities, this will be the
first time the Looney Tunes library will be featured exclusively on one TV network.
In the past, the shorts have also aired on ABC and CBS.
During her presentation, Cohen added that this June,
Cartoon's annual "June Bug" marathon will feature every Bugs Bunny cartoon ever
In other Cartoon news, through a licensing agreement with
Hasbro Properties Group, part of Hasbro Inc., the network will air 26 half-hour episodes
of Centipede,an action-adventure series with computer-generated animation,
in its weekday afternoon "Toonami" block.
Cartoon has also acquired two Japanese animated series, Gundam
Wing and Tenchi Muyo,which will join "Toonami."
As part of its announcements, Cartoon said it has ordered
almost 120 episodes of renewed original shows this year. Overall, in terms of its
schedule, Cartoon expects to have nightly two-hour blocks of all-original programming by
this fall, and to be airing four hours of originals each night by next summer.
Cartoon, which has been on a roll in terms of distribution,
is now in 61.8 million homes. Officials at the upfront projected that the network will be
in 67 million homes by the end of the year.
Last week, Cartoon officials were boasting that the
network's delivery of kids six through 11 in February in primetime was up 27 percent, to
431,000, and that ratings for that demographic were up 16 percent, to a 2.8, compared with
But Cartoon's household numbers didn't hold up so well in
February. Its primetime household ratings were flat, at a 1.6, according to Nielsen Media
Research data. For total day, Cartoon dipped 9 percent, to a 1.0 from a 1.1.
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