Canada to Produce Jim Henson Puppet Preschool Series

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Jim Henson

TVOKids, City Saskatchewan and Knowledge Network have ordered "Hi Opie!" From "Rugrats" writer Barbara Slade and co-producer marblemedia.

TORONTO – Canadian kids' producer marblemedia has pacted with the Jim Henson Company to produce Hi Opie!, a live-action preschool series to be written and shot in Toronto.

The project about a puppet, his friends and two kindergarten teachers was created by Barbara Slade (Angelina Ballerina, Rugrats) and is set to debut in late 2014 on TVO Kids, City Saskatchewan and Knowledge Network.

TVOntario originally commissioned the series about a custom-built puppet from Jim Henson's Creature Shop.

"Transitioning from preschool to kindergarten can be challenging to young children, and Hi Opie! can be a great tool for kids to learn how to negotiate through this new and exciting world,” Lisa Henson, CEO of the Jim Henson Company, said in a statement Tuesday.

Toronto-based marblemedia is now casting and writing 13 half-hours of Hi Opie!, with production to start in March. 

Distribution360, a division of marblemedia, will share TV, DVD and digital distribution with the Jim Henson Company, which will also oversee format rights, merchandising and licensing rights worldwide.

"The Jim Henson Company’s rich history of creating emotional, life-changing, memorable entertaining experiences for audiences, including myself, is unmatched — working together with their team to bring another puppet into the lives of kids is a dream come true for marblemedia,” added Mark Bishop, co-CEO and executive producer at marblemedia, in his own statement.

The project’s series producer Larry Mirkin (Fraggle Rock) and showrunner Kate Barris (Max & Ruby, Captain Flamingo) are working on Hi Opie! with producer-director Lowell Dean of Lolofilm Productions Inc.

The executive producers on the project are Bishop and Matt Hornburg for marblemedia and Henson and Halle Stanford for the Jim Henson Company.