Kids converge with Nick's 'iCarly'

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Nickelodeon presented a new series at its upfront presentation Thursday that integrates content created by real kids into the show's scripts.

Dubbed "iCarly," the live-action comedy series centers around its lead character -- played by "Drake & Josh's" Miranda Cosgrove -- hosting a Web show. As host, Carly will encourage viewers to post their own originally created content to a specified Website as it relates to the context of each show. That content will in turn be either part of a future "iCarly" episode or included in Carly's online Webcast.

The series, which has been greenlit for 13 episodes, is set to launch in September on Nickelodeon.

"We feel like the digital generation of kids has really sort of emerged and we're spending a lot of time trying to figure out how to seamlessly connect that to what we're doing in with all of our content on all of our platforms," said Cyma Zarghami, president, Nickelodeon and MTVN Kids and Family Group, in a conference call, noting that the transition of television to the Web and vice-versa will deliver a richer emotional bond with the audience.

While "iCarly's" involvement of kids is intended to reflect the more interactive way youngsters are now experiencing entertainment, it joins other recently launched initiatives by the Nickelodeon brand with the same aim.

In February, Nickelodeon launched the ME:TV programming block, which highlights user-generated content from kids, while the virtual world Nicktropolis launched in late January provides kids the ability to enter an online universe designed for them.

Nicktropolis has surpassed 1 million registered users while boasting 2.4 million visits and more than 70 million page views. Nick.com registered its highest amount of unique visitors since its inception with 16.8 million. For its part, Nickelodeon's broadband platform TurboNick showed triple digit increases since February of 2006 and calculated over 77 million streams.

This month, all of Nick's branded sites will feature new content and cater to fans of Nickelodeon's 20th Annual Kids' Choice Awards with a three-hour live streaming event on TurboNick among other KCA features spread across its Web entities.

Also on Thursday, Nickelodeon said it's planning to air more than 700 new episodes of new and returning series throughout the 2007-08 season. The network has picked up second seasons of the live-action series "The Naked Brothers Band" and "Just Jordan," ordering 13 more episodes of each. Returning series "Zoey 101" also got an order for 13 more episodes.

In addition, Nickelodeon is adding three new animated series to its 2008 schedule: "Making Fiends," which was developed from TurboNick, where it appeared as a series of shorts, and "The Umizumiz" and "Bubble Guppies," both of which are interactive series aimed at preschoolers.

Nickelodeon also is ordering more episodes of animated series "SpongeBob SquarePants" (13 episodes), "The Fairly OddParents" (20 episodes) and "Dora the Explorer" (14 episodes and three hourlong TV movies).

Meanwhile, Nick at Nite has acquired cable rerun rights to two ABC comedy series: "George Lopez" and "America's Funniest Home Videos." Nick at Nite has purchased all 120 episodes of "George Lopez," which will premiere in the fall during Hispanic Heritage Month. For "AFHV," the network will roll out 111 half-hour episodes and two hourlong specials starting at 8:30 p.m. April 30.

"George Lopez," distributed by Warner Bros. Domestic Cable Distribution, is in its sixth season on ABC, while "AFMV," distributed by Buena Vista Television, is in its 17th season.

Nickelodeon held its upfront at the Nokia Theater in Manhattan.
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