New at Nick: original film, boy band show

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A primetime movie starring Christopher Meloni and a music-based sitcom about a boy band were among the projects Nickelodeon touted Thursday at its upfront presentation to advertisers in New York.

The telefilm, "Gym Teacher," marks Nickelodeon's first original primetime family telepic, while "One 4 All" becomes the first series to result from Nickelodeon's partnership with Sony/BMG Music Entertainment.

"Right now I feel that Nickelodeon has unbelievable momentum both as a business and as a brand," Nickelodeon and MTVN Kids and Family Group president Cyma Zarghami told the advertisers at the Hammerstein Ballroom in Manhattan. "As a first generation of Nickelodeon families connect with Nick, we are on the eve of some really exciting initiatives — initiatives that I think are about being creatively inspiring and transformational to our business."

"Gym," directed by Paul Dinello, centers on Dave Stewie, a failed gold-medal contender-turned-gym teacher who vies for the gym teacher of the year award. But standing in his way is an uncoordinated transfer student who happens to be the son of an English teacher that Stewie falls for.

In addition to Meloni (NBC's "Law & Order: SVU") — who was on hand to tout "Gym" — Nathan Kress, Amy Sedaris and David Alan Grier also star in the movie, produced in association with Dolphin Entertainment. It premieres in August.

"One 4 All," created by Scott Fellows, follows the story of a talented young singer and his best friends who move to Los Angeles and become the world's most unlikely boy band.

"Beyond just integrating our existing music into Nick's programming, we're now together in a complete joint venture where we're doing brand-new shows," Sony Music Label Group chairman Rob Stringer said.

Final casting decisions for the show, due to premiere in the fall, should be made within eight to 10 weeks, Zarghami said.

Stringer added that Sony and Nick also are developing new recording careers for several of Nick's stars, and he told advertisers to expect a lot more "exciting ventures" in programming and music to emerge from the partnership.

MTV Networks chairman and CEO Judy McGrath also announced a new Nickelodeon multiplatform prosocial initiative called the Big Green Help, which she said would "use every screen we've got" to give kids information and access to "easy Earth-friendly activities."

Also on hand to tout shows were Amy Poehler, who pitched her upcoming animated comedy "The Mighty B!"; Miranda Cosgrove and Jennette McCurdy, stars of "iCarly"; and Quddus Philippe, host of the upcoming "Dance on Sunset."

In a conference call with reporters after the presentation, Jim Perry, executive vp 360 brand sales, said he is "bullish" not only about the kids marketplace but especially about Nickelodeon, with expectations of growing Nick's nontraditional advertising categories close to 50% in the 2008-09 upfront.
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