Animated upfront for Cartoon Net

New series, mobile phone application highlight session

With only an oblique reference to the fiasco in Boston that cost Turner Broadcasting System at least $2 million, Cartoon Network unveiled Wednesday at its upfront presentation five new series and 24 new movies and events for the coming year.

The presentation, held at the Time Warner Center in Manhattan, spent a good chunk of its time talking up the network's commitment to new media — VOD, gaming and a new mobile phone application — as well as its 662 planned new episodes.

New fare includes an animated series about Santo, the Silver-Masked Man, a cultural hero in Mexico, which is being created and executive produced by Carlo Olivares Paganoni; "Chowder," a Carl Greenblatt series about a young chef; "The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack," about a young pirate; and "The Secret Saturdays," about a family of scientists who travel the world to protect undiscovered phenomena.

Also getting a series order is "Re-Animated," which last year became Cartoon Network's first movie to mix live action and animation. And the Cartoon Network series "Ben 10" will have its own live-action movie directed by Alex Winter (co-star of "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure") as well as another series in which Ben recruits other children to help him.

The new mobile phone application, dubbed CallToons, calls for the voices of cartoon characters to deliver wireless alerts, ringtones and other phone functions. CallToons uses a patent pending technology and will feature characters from Cartoon Network and Adult Swim as separate brand services when it launches in the fourth quarter of 2007. Developed in conjunction with Turner R&D, Cartoon Network New Media is also working with telecommunications company Ericsson on refining the service's concept and on content delivery options. Pricing has not yet been disclosed.

During the upfront presentation, Turner Entertainment president Mark Lazarus spent more time talking about the winter storm that made Wednesday morning's travel hazardous than the marketing fiasco that put Cartoon Network and Adult Swim in the news this month.

"We're blown away by you being here," Lazarus said.

One key player who wasn't there was Jim Samples, the Cartoon Network/Adult Swim general manager who was a casualty of the Boston controversy. "That's why unexpectedly I'm here in front of you," Lazarus said.

But Lazarus, to whom the key Cartoon Network execs report until a replacement is named, promised that the network has a solid strategy for the coming year. "It's a plan we're sure kids will love," Lazarus said.

New specials include "Cartoon Network Invaded," with a new episode every Friday in May involving five of Cartoon Network's series, and "Props," a live-action reality series that will profile 16 youths who excel in sports, music or other endeavors. After an online vote, the winner will be profiled extensively.

Carly Mayberry in Los Angeles contributed to this report.
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