Tooning Up For The Upfront: Turner Net Preps 400 New, Original Hours

While there might not seem to be enough hours in the week, Cartoon Network is preparing to program 400 hours of new half-hour shows aimed at half-pints, the net's executives said in their presentation for the Kids Upfront.

Those many hours will be filled by five new animated series, new episodes of returning original series, and new acquisitions.

"We had success in 2004 with an emphasis on providing hundreds of hours of new programming and establishing new hit series, which, in conjunction with our dayparting strategy and a new on-air look, resulted in our best year ever with boys 6-11, kids and boys 2-11, and tweens," said Jim Samples, executive vice president and general manager for the Cartoon Network.

Cartoon Network also announced the development of an as-yet untitled series created by André 3000, one-half of the rap duo Outkast. The forthcoming show will be a prime-time half-hour comedy, and is being billed as "the first animated series with a uniquely Southern sensibility."

Other new shows include: "Krypto the Superdog," premiering on Cartoon Network on weekdays beginning Monday, April 4, at 9 a.m. (EST, PST); "IGPX: IGPX (The Immortal Grand Prix)" will debut in November and promises to take viewers inside the world of the "Immortal Grand Prix"; and "My Gym Partner is a Monkey," a series where going to school almost literally becomes a trip to the jungle. Through an administrative mix-up (a typo changing "Lyon" to "Lion"), 12-year-old Adam Lyon becomes the only human student at Charles Darwin Middle School, where the animal inhabitants of the local zoo and aquarium send their kids.

Aside from promoting the new programs, Cartoon Network execs also took time out to mention the network's more wholesome intentions.

In a clear nod to concerns about the increasing incidence of obesity and Type 2 diabetes in children-- which helped prompt Kraft to announce that it was rescinding TV advertising to kids last month--Cartoon Network will launch a national healthy lifestyles initiative targeted to kids 6-14 entitled "Get Animated," an on-air, online, print, and off-channel campaign. The branded program, which kicks off Monday, Feb. 21st, will tap the network's roster of original cartoon characters and distinctive 3D on-air environment to communicate positive lifestyle messages through multiple public service announcements to air in Cartoon Network's morning, afternoon, and prime-time dayparts.

And in a combination of both its entertainment and reformist values, the network is introducing a new program called "Tickle U," which will focus on "developing, nurturing and valuing a child's sense of humor" and is aimed at kids ages 2-5. "Tickle U" will air weekdays from 9-11 a.m. (EST, PST).

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