Toons for All Seasons and Sexes

May 5, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Six half-hours culled from Spike and Mike’s Sick & Twisted Animation Festival, for years a fixture on the late-night cult-movie circuit, are coming to Spike, Viacom’s newly named cable network for men.
The network also has put into development A.F.U. (a k a, All F***ed Up), a racy animated series about and by young women. Both projects are from well-known animation producer Fred Seibert, the former head of Hanna-Barbera, who now runs Fredator Studios, the company behind Nickelodeon’s Fairly Odd Parents, Behind the Chalk Zone and Oh Yeah! Cartoons in addition to My Life as Teenage Robot, which is set to debut in July.
A.F.U., created by Nahnatchka Khan and Sue Rose (who also created Angela Anaconda for ABC Family and Pepper Ann for ABC, is “Beavis and Butt-head with women,” Mr. Seibert said, and will tell the for-adults story of two young women, just out of college, who live the party-hard life: going to work, coming home, going to sleep and waking up at midnight to go out until it’s time to go back to work in the morning.
“And you don’t notice that there’s anything wrong with it at that age,” Mr. Seibert said.
(Interestingly enough, another cartoon about empowered young women, Cartoon Network’s popular The Powerpuff Girls, also began life as a short in the Spike and Mike Festival and was originally called The Whoop Ass Girls, a title that didn’t test well with little boys, according to a Cartoon spokesman.)
Adult animation customarily is told from the men-behaving-badly point of view, Mr. Seibert noted. “I felt that the men’s marketplace is not exclusively interested in men behaving badly,” he said. “They’re interested in, among other things, bad behavior by anyone.”
Even as its previous incarnation, The New TNN, Spike had already begun to emphasize animation for adults, taking advantage of the abundant animation relationships and resources of Nickelodeon, its sister network, and giving the green light to Gary the Rat and Stripperella, two new adult animation series.
The Spike and Mike library of more than 200 animated short films, which has always included some very adult and explicit shorts, is also being culled for possible future animated Spike series, Mr. Seibert said. “I’ve always felt there might be a place on television for [Spike and Mike’s material] at the right moment,” Mr. Seibert said, adding that the “stuff that’s inappropriate for television won’t run.”
Mr. Seibert has a deal with the Viacom networks, making him exclusive in the categories of kids, music and men, he said. Voice casting for A.F.U. is still to be determined.
Beyond his existing projects, Mr. Seibert is developing 10 low-budget animation features-five “classical animal cartooning” movies targeted at the family audience and five “edgier” animated pictures, Mr. Seibert said. So far, he’s raised the money to cover approximately half the $3 million to $5 million per-film budgets for the family films. The edgier animated films, from Bill Plympton (The Tune) and others will cost approximately $1 million to $3 million per film, he said.
The Animation Generation
Concepts for the more adult films include Another Single Woman Turns 30 and Satan Was My Lab Partner. “We’re producing on television-level budgets,” he said, “and we’re creating properties that will have lots of opportunities for exploitation exclusively on television, if that’s what it comes down to.”
Under-35-year-olds comprise the first generation to have grown up with “animation aimed exactly at them at every stage of life” and are the natural target for his cartoon movies, he said.
Mr. Seibert’s partners in Frederator are Emil Rensing, a former AOL executive, and Travis Pomposello, a former Discovery executive.
A retrospective look in book form at the Spike and Mike festival, which also debuted the short on which South Park was based, is due out this summer.
By press time, a senior Spike spokesman had not replied to a request for comment on the projects.