Nick packs for Web 'Camp'

Jones duo, Cannon to guide series

Nickelodeon is testing the waters of original online content with the July 22 launch of its first broadband series.

Dubbed "Nick Cannon's Star Camp," the online series on TurboNick will follow eight hand-picked youngsters as they acquire and then apply the tools necessary to obtain success and stardom in the high stakes world of music. Music industry veteran Quincy Jones and his son, Quincy Jones III (QD3), founder of multiplatform media company QD3 Prods. with Cannon, will serve as executive producers.

Marjorie Cohn, executive vp original programming and development at Nickelodeon Networks, said Nick properties such as "Mr. Meaty" and "Avatar" have developed a huge following online, so introducing an original series to air exclusively on TurboNick was the next natural step.

"Just in June alone we had the highest month ever for streams, up by 535% from last year," Cohn said. "This is a good choice for our first online experience because of the format -- reality lends itself to content that's a little shorter."

The 15-minute, five-episode series will feature Cannon, who first appeared on Nickelodeon's sketch comedy series "All That" in 1998, as the show's guide and leader, overseeing the personal development process of the kids, while Jones will assume a mentoring role throughout the series as well as during its finale. That will occur in the form of a live stage show produced by Cannon to air Aug. 26 on Nickelodeon's TeenNick block. The project, which will be promoted on-air on TeenNick, was conceived by Jones' son in partnership with Ray Brown and Sean McNair.

"What's great is that Nick was a kid when he started on Nickelodeon so he knows how to build young stars; he's a guy who has gone through it," Cohn said.

The series documents the journey that eight-member group the Giggle Club will undergo, starting with auditions and continuing through the grooming process, which will include voice training, dance lessons, songwriting, acting, stage presence and physical conditioning.

Director Debbie Allen and choreographer Fatima Robinson also will lend their talent and experience to what Jones and Cannon call the "media dream team" helping to foster the artistic progress of the eight hopefuls chosen from thousands of kids.

Additionally, background about the show and the Giggle Club members, along with message boards where kids can post their views and vote on which song they think is best, will be included on the site.

"That's the beautiful thing about the multiplatform experience," Cannon said. "We're not only mentoring these kids but the whole interactive audience as well."

With TurboNick receiving triple-digit increases in viewership during the past year with a record 122 million streams in June 2007, Cannon and the younger Jones envision the series becoming a regular viewing staple on the broadband video player, in the vein of "American Idol."

"This series is a way to combine multiple platforms into one taking advantage of how kids are truly interacting and discovering talent these days," the younger Jones said. "The goal is to send this first group of kids that we develop on tour and each successive season bring on new groups and ideally expand worldwide."
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