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Axe Cop, High School USA! anchor Fox’s Animation Domination High-Def

- July 19th, 2013

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There’s nothing funny about cartoons, at least from a TV business perspective.

Fox has been at the forefront of primetime animation for more than two decades. In fact, it built much of its TV empire on The Simpsons, which eventually was followed by Family Guy and all its offshoots.

But it’s 2013. The Simpsons debuted all the way back in 1989, Family Guy in 1999.

Thus the creation of a new project Fox is calling Animation Domination High-Def. It basically is a safe place where varied shows can develop in various forms.

The first two “series” from the Animation Domination High-Def stable are called Axe Cop and High School USA! They will debut in primetime on Fox on Sunday, July 21, before moving to their regular time slot late Saturday nights, beginning July 27.

Fox has a successful history of animation and having a space to do experimental and more interesting kinds of animation is really important,” said Nick Weidenfeld, the head of Animation Domination High-Def. “It’s how The Simpsons grew from The Tracey Ullman Show into a behemoth on Sunday night.

So I actually think there’s space for this. Really, if we’re competing with anybody, we’re competing with the internet more than another network. It’s just about making really good stuff and trying to attract that audience, that young audience, to watching TV or watching our website or our app.”

Whereas High School USA! – with voices provided by singer/actress Mandy Moore and Vincent Kartheiser, who plays Pete Campbell on Mad Men – is an R-rated take on the old Archie cartoons, Axe Cop is the more outlandish of the two new shows.

Axe Cop began as a webcomic, written by five-year-old Malachai Nicolle and illustrated by his adult brother Ethan Nicolle. The title voice for the TV version is provided by Nick Offerman, who plays Ron Swanson on Parks and Recreation.

There’s not a group of children writing it,” Weidenfeld assured. “But (the source material) was created by a five-year-old and written by a five-year-old and illustrated by his 30-year-old brother. I mean, it’s adults writing in the room. Ethan, the older brother, is in the room. But Malachai, who is now eight, we definitely call him a lot.”

Is the ultimate goal here to move some of these series into Sunday night slots when shows such as The Simpsons and Family Guy go to pasture?

I think that’s absolutely a goal – it’s one goal of Fox, it’s a path we could go down – but it’s not the only metric of success,” Weidenfeld said. “The stuff we’re making is not the exact same fare as a Sunday night, really broad show. So if that should come out of it, which potentially is possible, it would be really exciting, but we’ve definitely not been given the directive to do that.

We don’t want to have restrictions on it, because those (Sunday night) shows need to be huge hits, you know? We need to make stuff that, at the beginning, could be just for a niche audience, and that would be okay.

This is a new business, a new frontier. We’re trying to figure out how we’re going to do this kind of thing, what’s going to work.”

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

 

Mad Men season-six publicity pics released; Who’s in and who’s out?

- January 23rd, 2013

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AMC has announced that the sixth season of Mad Men will debut April 7.

Along with that news, the network has released four publicity pictures. It’s always fun to peruse such things, to see if you can deduce anything about the coming season. Who’s included? Who isn’t?

So here are the pics, one above and three below. Try not to be too distracted  by Pete Campbell‘s sideburns.

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

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