New York— Cartoon Network started cable's annual upfront season with a wave of original programming news.
Highlights included four new series set to run in 2003 and early 2004, and a new set of Star Wars
In the past, Cartoon has limited itself to two series launches each year. But the channel had a mixed 2002 — solid growth both in total households and target-audience ratings during its first six months, then a slight decline in the second half — so more first-run fare is needed, general manager Jim Samples said.
Cartoon hopes the new series will also increase its share of the kids' advertising upfront, which could total $750 million this year.
The channel has started to produce the new series. Duck Dodgers, based on Daffy Duck's spacefaring alter ego, will appear on the Saturday morning schedule in July. Teen Titans, which features young superhero sidekicks, debuts in primetime in August.
Cartoon is expected to start LowBrow, derived from a "Cartoon Cartoon Weekend" featurette, in December. Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, the latest from The Powerpuff Girls
creator Craig McCracken, bows next winter or in 2004.
Cartoon will premiere the first of 20 three-minute Star Wars: Clone Wars
shorts, using characters from the film series' prior installment, Star Wars: Episode II—Attack of the Clones.
Lucasfilm Ltd. will partner with Cartoon. Dexter's Laboratory
creator Genndy Tartakovsky will oversee the project.
Four Kids WB! series —Jackie Chan Adventures, X-Men: Evolution, What's New, Scooby-Doo? and Yu-Gi-Oh!
— join the schedule in 2003.
Codename: Kids Next Door, Cartoon's latest hit, will get 19 new segments through late 2003 into 2005.
All original elements of Cartoon's "Adult Swim" block will return with new episodes. Also coming in for an off-broadcast run: Family Guy, Seth McFarlane's quirky Fox series.