`Butt Ugly’ craze

Apr 30, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Programming is officially turning “Ugly” this fall.
Despite the lack of activity in domestic kids syndication in recent years, Sachs Entertainment has now nailed more than 90 percent of the country for upcoming weekly series “Butt Ugly Martians.” Among the stations on board for the series are a slew of Chris-Craft Industries outlets, including KCOP-TV, Los Angeles, and KBHK-TV, San Francisco.
In New York, the series is slated to air on WPIX-TV. In Chicago, WCIU-TV will carry it, and WPHL-TV has it in the Philadelphia market.
Sachs Entertainment, the team behind “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” brought the series to the National Association of Television Program Executives convention in Las Vegas last January. Twenty-six 30-minute episodes of the 3-D computer-generated-imaging series were made available to stations at the market.
The series debuted Feb. 19 in the United Kingdom on CITV, with RTI in Italy and Super RTL in Germany also readying launches.
“We had been looking for the stellar signature project to move our TV production/distribution division on to the next level when Mike Young [of “Voltron: The Next Dimension”] introduced us to the Butt-Uglys,” said Loren Taylor, CEO of Just Group USA. “And before you could say `hurtling through hyperspace,’ we were not only in production but had our first TV broadcaster as well as our worldwide master toy licensee.”
Aimed at 4- to 11-year-olds, the series is set in the year 2053, when three mischievous, youthful teen-age aliens land on Earth with orders to invade the planet. However, the trio end up protecting Earth instead and decide to take up residence, sending phony progress reports back to their planet. Meanwhile, the host of a cult cable TV series about extraterrestrial sightings is hunting them. The series is described as a “Ninja Turtles” meets “The Mask” meets “Toy Story” meets “Men in Black.”
Robert Stack is on board to voice the cable host, Stout Muldoon. Other voices signed for the series include “Diagnosis Murder’s” Charlie Schlatter, “Pinky and the Brain’s” Rob Paulsen and “Rugrats”’ Kath Soucie. The animation is from the team behind series such as “The Simpsons” and “Clifford the Big Red Dog.”
Even with the dearth of viable kid series offered in syndication in recent years-primarily a result of fragmented ratings caused by the growth of Viacom’s Nickelodeon and Turner’s Cartoon Network-Sachs still plans to turn a tidy profit within syndication. “Butt Ugly Martians,” with a cost of $320,000 per episode, will reportedly draw $200,000 per episode internationally and $50,000 domestically. The profit is expected to come from merchandising, including deals with Hasbro and nearly 70 other licensees.