LOWDOWN ON THE UPFRONT: Nick Tunes In - Multichannel

LOWDOWN ON THE UPFRONT: Nick Tunes In

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NEW YORK--Nickelodeon is hoping to build on several ratings breakout hits in 2008, with the launch later this year of new original movies, as well as scripted animated and series projects.

Nickelodeon will team with Sony/BMG Music Entertainment to create a live-action series dubbed One 4 All based on the exploits of a fictional boy band, according to Rob Stringer, chairman of the Sony Music Label Group who spoke during the network’s upfront presentation here today.

The series, scheduled to debut in August, is the first of several projects the network will develop with Sony as part of a  four-year partnership announced last July, according to Cyma Zarghami, president of Nickelodeon & MTVN Kids and Family Group.

Nick will continue to move in the TV music genre with the March 29 debut of Dance on Sunset, a 12-episode series that will feature free-style dance competitions and audience dance instruction, according to Nick. The 12-episode series will feature appearances by such music acts as Ashlee Simpson, Sean Kingston, Akon, Janet Jackson, Omarion and Nickelodeon’s Naked Brothers Band.

As part of the show, Dance on Sunset will tap into its live studio audience for contestants to compete in a series of freestyle dance competitions. Viewers can learn the dance steps seen on the show via the dancesunset.com website.

The network will attempt to reach kid and adult viewers this summer with its family-themed original movie Gym Teacher: The Movie. The comedy film stars Dave Meloni (Law and Order:Special Victims Unit) as a failed gold-medal gymnast turned gym teacher who seeks a last shot at fame by competing for Gym Teacher of the Year Award while training an uncoordinated, non-athletic transfer student.

On the animated front, the network will launch in April The Mighty B!, a 30-minute comedy series starring Saturday Night Live alum Amy Poehler as the voice of Bessie Higgenbottom, an ambitious Honeybee girts troop member who seeks to earn every single Honeybee badge for good deeds.

Zarghami also said the network will develop new episodes for several of its returning animated series, including SpongeBob Squarepants, The Fairly OddParents, Back at the Barnyard and The Backyardigans.

The network is hoping to continue its fast ratings start to the year. The network’s Feb. 18 movie special Fairly Oddbaby drew 8.8 million viewers – the most for any cable entertainment show in 2008, while the network’s Jan. 4 movie Goodbye Zoey – based on the Jamie Lynn Spears starrer Zoey 101 series – drew a franchise high 7.27 million viewers.

For the week of March 3 -9, Nickelodeon programming accounted for 40 of the top 50 most-watched shows during the period, according to Nielsen Media Research data.

On the Nick At Nite front, Zarghami said the network picked up off network rights to the CW comedy series Everybody Hates Chris, which will debut on the network in fall 2009.    

 For more upfront coverage, click here.

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