PBS Commits More Air Time to Kids With a New Block of Programs And New Specials in 2002
THE BERENSTAIN BEARS Joins New Weekday PBS KIDS® BOOKWORM BUNCH Strip
CLIFFORD THE BIG RED DOG Celebrates Valentine's Day With a One-Hour Special
ARTHUR's Second One-Hour Special Stars Pop Sensations Backstreet Boys
PASADENA, Calif. - January 8, 2002 - Continuing its mission to provide quality educational programming for children, PBS today unveiled new additions to its PBS KIDS® roster. The animated BERENSTAIN BEARS, based on the beloved children's books, will air in Fall 2002 as part of a new stripped one-hour weekday PBS KIDS BOOKWORM BUNCH block; next month, the big red dog will send Valentine wishes with a one-hour CLIFFORD THE BIG RED DOG special airing February 14; and young hearts will flutter when Backstreet Boys guest-star as animated versions of themselves in ARTHUR "It's Only Rock and Roll" (w.t.), an hour-long special premiering in August. The announcement was made by John F. Wilson, senior vice president and co-chief program executive of PBS, at the Television Critics Association Press Tour in Pasadena.
"At a time when there are fewer and fewer children's shows on television, we're pleased to expand PBS KIDS programming in response to the tremendous viewership and Web traffic it has generated," said Mr. Wilson. "The PBS KIDS BOOKWORM BUNCH has quickly become a Saturday-morning destination for kids and parents alike; we believe the new weekday block, with THE BERENSTAIN BEARS and favorites SEVEN LITTLE MONSTERS and GEORGE SHRINKS, will enjoy similar success. And kids who can't get enough of ARTHUR and CLIFFORD THE BIG RED DOG will be thrilled with these new specials."
Stan and Jan Berenstain's renowned children's book series, THE BERENSTAIN BEARS, will be developed by Nelvana into an animated series of 15-minute episodes that will be part of a new Monday-Friday block under the PBS KIDS BOOKWORM BUNCH banner. Nelvana will produce 40 one-hour blocks that will also feature new 15-minute episodes of SEVEN LITTLE MONSTERS and new episodes of the half-hour GEORGE SHRINKS; the two programs are currently part of the Saturday-morning PBS KIDS BOOKWORM BUNCH, which debuted in September 2000 and features five animated programs.
The PBS KIDS BOOKWORM BUNCH has proven to be extremely popular. In the 2000-2001 season, Saturday-morning ratings increased 31 percent to 2.1 among kids 2-5, and 33 percent to 1.2 among all kids 2-11, from the 1999-2000 season-to-date, when PBS was not scheduling Saturday- morning children's programming.
The Bear Family - Papa, Mama, Brother and Sister Bear - have been adored by kids and adults since the first Berenstain book, The Big Honey Hunt, was published in 1962. The series now includes more than 200 titles. The books, from Random House, focus on that central and universal circumstance of life: family. The Bear Family and their relatives, neighbors and friends are among the best known and best loved children's book characters around the world. The Berenstains have received many awards, including a Children's Choice Award for The Berenstain Bears' New Neighbors in 1995 and the Ludington Award for their contributions to children's literature in 1989.
The PBS KIDS BOOKWORM BUNCH is produced for PBS by Nelvana, and is made possible in part by generous support from the makers of PLAYSKOOL toys. Nelvana also produces, with Thirteen/WNET New York, CYBERCHASE, premiering on PBS KIDS this month.
In a one-hour Valentine special airing on Thursday, February 14, CLIFFORD THE BIG RED DOG, produced by Scholastic Productions, celebrates the occasion with four new stories. In the first, "Cleo's Valentine Surprise," we find Cleo (Cree Summer), going overboard preparing a special gift for Clifford (John Ritter) and T-Bone (Kel Mitchell). In the second tale, "Fan Mail," Emily Elizabeth (Grey DeLisle) writes a letter to her favorite pop star. In the third installment, "Big Hearted T-Bone," the dog's sense of responsibility is put to the test when he promises to baby-sit, but then wants to change his plans after spotting the canine femme fatale, Mimi. The Valentine fun concludes with "Magic in the Air," where Clifford's friend Charley gets carried away with a magic craze that sweeps Birdwell Island.
This Valentine special kicks off eight new CLIFFORD episodes that will air this winter. Since premiering on PBS KIDS in September 2000, CLIFFORD THE BIG RED DOG has garnered an array of honors, including five Emmy nominations, a prestigious Humanitas Prize, a Parents Choice Award, a Gold Plaque from the Chicago International TV Film Competition, a Gold World Medal in the New York Festivals, a CINE Golden Eagle, and critical acclaim nationwide. CLIFFORD's most recent award is the 2001 TASH Positive Image Award for "A New Friend." Major corporate support for CLIFFORD THE BIG RED DOG is made possible by KIX and Chuck E. Cheese's. Additional funding has been provided by a Ready To Learn grant from the US Department of Education through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Public Television Viewers and PBS.
Backstreet Boys fans will have a chance to see an animated version of the superstar group when ARTHUR "It's Only Rock and Roll" (w.t.) airs during August 2002. Accompanying the musical special will be behind-the scenes production footage of the group members: Kevin, AJ, Howie D., Brian, and Nick. In the special, Muffy's crush on heartthrob Nick Carter blossoms when Backstreet Boys concert tour comes to Elwood City. In response to Muffy's infatuation, Francine creates an "anti-cute, anti-commercial" band called U Stink. But when the fledgling band becomes a success, everything falls apart for Francine. Through a Hard Day's Night-like chain of events, the special culminates in U Stink and Backstreet Boys performing an impromptu duet onstage.
Produced by Marc Brown Studios, WGBH Boston and CINAR Corporation, "It's Only Rock and Roll" (w.t.) is the second hour-long ARTHUR special and follows last year's "Arthur's Perfect Christmas." The special continues the tradition of celebrity guest stars including Fred Rogers, Michelle Kwan, Yo-Yo Ma, Joshua Redman, Alex Trebek and Art Garfunkel. ARTHUR is based on the best-selling books by Marc Brown. Currently in its sixth season, it remains the most-watched children's television program among kids 2-11 years old, with more than 12 million weekly viewers. ARTHUR has won numerous awards, including the George Foster Peabody Award and four Daytime Emmys (three in the Outstanding Children's Animated Program category).
ARTHUR is produced for PBS by WGBH Boston and CINAR Corporation. Funding is provided by a Ready To Learn Television cooperative agreement from the U.S. Department of Education and through the Public Broadcasting Service and public television viewers. Corporate funding is provided by Libby's¨ Juicy Juice¨, Post¨ Alpha-Bits¨ Cereal, LEGO¨, Public Television Viewers, PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
PBS KIDS provides a nonviolent, noncommercial daily television schedule for children from preschoolers to teenagers. Its programming extends beyond the TV screen to the Web (pbskids.org), home videos, educational outreach materials and PBS KIDS CHANNEL. A portion of programming on PBS KIDS is part of the Ready To Learn Service, leveraging the television programs with workshops in local communities to help adults boost children's reading and social skills.
PBS, headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, is a private, nonprofit media enterprise owned and operated by the nation's 349 public television stations. Serving nearly 90 million people each week, PBS enriches the lives of all Americans through quality programs and education services on noncommercial television, the Internet and other media. More information about PBS is available at PBS.org
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