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PBS To Launch Saturday Kids’ Series

August 2, 1999

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) _ PBS is breaking into the competitive Saturday morning children’s television market with a $40 million project to develop six animated programs for preschoolers.

Books including Maurice Sendak’s ``Seven Little Monsters″ and Rosemary Wells’ ``Timothy Goes to School″ will be the basis for the programs, set to air in fall 2000.

``We’re delighted to extend the joy of reading to television,″ John F. Wilson, PBS Programming Services senior vice president, told the Television Critics Association on Saturday.

Children under 5 generally are ignored by commercial television, said Toper Taylor, president of Toronto-based Nelvana Communications Inc., producer of the PBS series.

``Advertisers have no desire to sell to a preschool audience,″ Taylor said, with most Saturday morning programs aimed at 6- to 11-year-old children.

Nelvana will get international sales rights and also rely on production partners and corporate underwriters to finance the three-year project.

Other books to be adapted for the series are ``George Shrinks″ by William Joyce; ``Corduroy Bear″ by Don Freeman; ``Junior Kroll″ by Michael and Betty Paraskevas, and ``Elliot Moose″ by Andrea Beck.

At least two of the series will become part of PBS’ daily schedule. Also joining that lineup will be ``Dragon Tales.″ The animated series about a brother and sister and their adventures in Dragon Land debuts on Sept. 6 .

PBS also announced a new logo intended to give public television a more appealing image to children and to unite the service’s ``kid-friendly″ activities.

``Having hit shows is not enough. We have to be a hit channel,″ said Carole Feld, PBS senior vice president for brand management.

The cartoon-style design features a grinning child _ alternatively a boy or girl _ to be used during children’s programs, on the network’s web site and for the upcoming PBS Kids Channel. The 24-hour channel debuts in September.

Other announcements made by PBS during the Television Critics Association meeting:

_ LookSmart, an Internet directory and search tool, will underwrite ``Sesame Street″ and four other programs for three years in what PBS called its most ``far-reaching″ corporate deal ever.

The LookSmart deal helped the PBS’ national underwriting sales force reach a total $65.5 million in program sponsorships, up 110 percent from last year.

_ Writer-director Bruce Paltrow (``St. Elsewhere″) is joining the new ``PBS Hollywood Television″ series, which will feature drama and comedy, as executive producer for the first production.

_ Fledgling venture PBS Records will release six new albums in the coming months, including four accompanying upcoming PBS shows.

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