New Disney unit inks for Brit kids shows

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LONDON -- U.K.-based Disney Channel Worldwide's global original programming division has struck a pair of deals with British production companies for two children's television shows to feed Disney's local ambitions.

Disney on Wednesday said it has optioned the rights to live-action/animated comedy "The Shaila Show" from production house Coolabi. The other option is for "Clever Clogs" a new animted series from Blue-Zoo Prods.

"The Shaila Show" is about a young girl who solves her problems through an alternate reality where she is the host of her own anarchic talk show.

Blue-Zoo's animation, "Clever Clogs," is aimed at the tween market and follows the adventures of Milly, a normal girl in a very crazy family.

"My job is to seek out the best creative talent in Europe and I'm delighted to be joining forces with two leading lights of the U.K.'s children's television industry, Aranguren said. "Many U.S.-produced shows have been huge hits around the globe for Disney Channel and we hope to emulate this success with shows made in the U.K. and Europe."

Added Coolabi head of children's programming Julian Scott: "This is a significant deal for Coolabi and very much in line with our stated plan to work with top global broadcasters. We can't wait to get started."

The deals are the first to be announced by Disney Channel's London-based global original programming hub, established in April to drive forward the investment in and development of live-action and animated projects outside of North America for both European and global distribution.

Disney Channel Worldwide global original programming vp Steve Aranguren also has appointed a duo of executives to help fuel the local production drive.

David Freedman has been appointed senior development manager and Baljeet Rai has been named senior manager production, Aranguren said.

Freedman will be charged with overseeing the development and production of long form animated and live action series for Disney Channel, EMEA. He comes with a wealth of kids' television experience, having created, produced and directed productions for Jetix, CiTV and Nickelodeon.

Rai, who will manage animated series production for Disney Channel EMEA, has created and produced a number of animations for the BBC and a CGI series for Carlton Television.

In addition to these two new deals, Disney Channel is working with Chorion to bring to life an updated, animated version of Enid Blyton's "Famous Five," due to hit screens in the U.K. and across the world in 2008.
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