Cartoon Network is following up its first original production in Africa, Pop Up Party, with another dance-themed show featuring two animated dance instructors.
CN Dance Challenge will debut on October 2 and is a collaboration with Nigerian director-animator Benjamin Sokomba Dahzi, aka Bennydee.
The show will challenge kids to follow various African-inspired dance routines and comes after Pop Up Party ran for three seasons on the network.
Dahzi, who oversaw the motion-capture technology that features in the show, said he admired the commitment Cartoon Network is showing “to unearth and develop African talent.”
Ariane Suveg, head of kids’ channels in Africa, France and Israel at Cartoon Network parent WarnerMedia, added: “At Cartoon Network, we are committed to getting closer to our audience, and with the incredible audience response to our last three dance shows across South Africa and Kenya, we wanted to continue showcasing some incredible African kids’ talents while contributing to the development of local animation.”
Cartoon Network Africa airs US programming such as The Powerpuff Girls, Ben 10, Craig of the Creek, Apple & Onion and Summer Camp Island, alongside local productions such as Pop Up Party and Mike & Rob.
France Télévisions and WarnerMedia are co-financing an animated special based on publishing property Akissi, which centres on a mischievous girl growing up in Ivory Coast.
French animation studio Ellipsanime has begun production on the 1×26′ special in Paris, based on Marguerite Abouet and Mathieu Sapin’s children’s comic book series.
The comics were inspired by Abouet’s childhood in Abidjan, a city on the southern Atlantic coast of the French-speaking West African country.
According to the producers, the show will use humour, energy and a universal style to tell the stories of an intrepid little girl and her monkey, while portraying a lively and uninhibited Africa “far from the usual clichés.”
The actors who voice the French version of the special, including Kayla Lingalé, were cast in Abidjan, while the dubbing for the international version will be done in South Africa by the African Animation Network.
French pubcaster France Télévisions will debut the special in France and WarnerMedia is set to air the toon on Boomerang in English-speaking Africa in 2022.
Aimed at six- to 10-year-olds and directed by Alexandre Coste, the special comes after an animated adaptation of Akissi was first pitched at Cartoon Forum in France in 2017.
Abouet said: “Akissi invites children to go off into a warm and chaotic unknown world, an uninhibited and relaxed roam through an Africa that is so near and yet so far away.
“It’s like an open-air theatre where your attention is unceremoniously grabbed by these young characters and their sense of hospitality. And even though they have some faults, they are always happy and active, and children from all over the world will be able to identify with them.”
Pierre Siracusa, head of animation for young audiences at France Télévisions, added: “This programme is our first incursion into the everyday life of African children, which is universal and accessible to our young audiences thanks to the talent of Marguerite Abouet and the graphic skills of Mathieu Sapin.
“Akissi celebrates the arrival of a modern heroine and contributes to increasing the number of heroic role models present in our editorial offer. One of the many riches of this special is that it promotes diversity on screen and is precisely what we want to cultivate on our channels.”
Ariane Suveg, kids’ content director for France, Africa and Israel at WarnerMedia, said: “Akissi is a free, singular, mischievous and kind heroine in the animated and vibrant environment of contemporary Africa. The idea is that, through this special, we will be able to increase our animation offer specifically aimed at young African audiences and work towards a diversity of characters in unique stories.”
Executives from the BBC, WarnerMedia and Amazon have outlined their diversity strategies after a year in which the ethnic and gender imbalances in the media industry have come under fresh scrutiny.
In a session titled Tribune for Heads of Diversity and Inclusion at the digital version of the MipTV event, WarnerMedia chief enterprise inclusion officer Christy Haubegger outlined the steps needed to increase diversity.
“If you want to win once, set a goal. If you want to win, create a system,” Haubegger said. “We’ve been looking at inclusion not just in our workforce but in our storytelling, making our showrunners and creative leaders really understand. This year we launched an eight-hour programme to do just that and we’re looking forward to doing more of that.”
Similarly, BBC head of creative diversity Miranda Wayland described how the UK pubcaster has taken steps to change the way it looks at inclusion. “We created a creative allies toolkit for our commissioning teams to show individuals how they can support minorities,” she said. “We’ve also been trying to get better embedded with our programme makers so they can see the benefits.”
Latasha is head of global diversity, equity and inclusion at Amazon Studios, the production and distribution subsidiary of the US retail giant. Like the others, she believes diversity is a company-wide issue that starts with the hiring process.
“If you’re not getting enough diversity at the interview stage, you need to be asking yourself if the process is too homogenous,” Gillespie said. “Your interviewees should never be the same race or gender.”
US giant WarnerMedia and Chinese-owned African pay TV operator StarTimes have partnered to bring the former’s kids’ channel Toonami to multiple sub-Saharan countries.
The superhero-focused channel will be available via StarTimes in countries including Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia, Ghana, Malawi and Mozambique.
Toonami airs series based on popular comic book characters such as Batman, Superman, and the Justice League, plus popular animated series Teen Titans. It also carries animated feature films such as Batman: Monster Mayhem and All-Star Superman.
Guillaume Coffin, VP and head of commercial and business development at WarnerMedia-owned Turner France, Africa and Israel, said: “WarnerMedia has an existing relationship with StarTimes in French-speaking African regions, which has allowed us to distribute Cartoon Network, Boomerang, Boing, WarnerTV and CNN, among other franchises. We look forward to creating more platforms within this partnership to widen our footprint on the continent.”
Lily Meng, head of StarTimes’ media division, added: “We are delighted to expand our partnership with WarnerMedia toward Anglophone Africa. StarTimes is committed to providing access to high-quality content to all family members, and especially to kids who in many countries have to stay home right now. Toonami comes at the right time to strengthen our kids’ channel portfolio.”
The launch date for Toonami in the aforementioned countries is yet to be announced.
US giant WarnerMedia and France-based pay TV operator Canal+ have teamed up to launch Cartoon Network and TNT in Rwanda, with a Nigerian toon on the former’s launch slate.
The two channels will be made available to local subscribers to Canal+’s existing Les Bouquets Canal+ pay TV package.
As a result, Les Bouquets Canal+ subscribers will have access to Cartoon Network titles such as ThunderCats Roar, Teen Titans Go!, DC Superhero Girls and the Nigerian animated short Garbage Boy & Trash Can.
Garbage Boy & Trash Can is from Nigerian animator Ridwan Moshood, and won Cartoon Network Africa’s Creative Lab competition in 2018.
The show tells the story of a garbage boy who believes he has superpowers he can use to fight for justice together with his trusty sidekick, a trash can.
TNT titles available include movies Apocalypto, Green Lantern, Batman Begins, Anaconda 3: Offspring and Million Dollar Baby.
Guillaume Coffin, VP and head of commercial and business development at Turner France, Africa and Israel, said: “WarnerMedia has been present in Africa for more than 20 years, operating six channels across the continent in 56 English-, French- and Portuguese-speaking countries.
“Launching TNT and Cartoon Network is an exciting expansion of our partnership with Canal+ Group in Africa. I am convinced that the tremendous success of these two channels in Africa, as well as their dedicated line-up of content and productions tailored for African viewers, will be welcomed by Canal+ subscribers in Rwanda.”
MultiChoice’s digital terrestrial platform GOtv is adding WarnerMedia channels Cartoon Network and TNT to its line-up.
From November 12, the channels will offer subscribers across English-speaking sub-Saharan Africa children’s entertainment as well as Hollywood blockbusters.
The titles will include Ben 10, Craig of the Creek, Teen Titans Go, The Amazing World of Gumball, an exclusive original production of Victor & Valentino and films such as Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice, Spy Kids and Jumanji.
Guillaume Coffin, WarnerMedia’s VP commercial and head of business development for France and Africa, said: “We are thrilled to bring Cartoon Network and TNT to a wider African audience and to extend our partnership with MultiChoice through GOtv. The quality of our channels, combined with MultiChoice’s excellence in marketing, will contribute to bringing our premium quality American features and innovative kids’ content to an even wider audience on the African continent.
“We are convinced that our existing fans will be as excited about this new entertainment experience as we are, and we look forward to welcoming our new GOtv fans to join in on the fun just in time for the festive season.”
Yolisa Phahle, CEO of general entertainment at the MultiChoice Group, added: “As the home of African television, it’s always a win for us to be able to deliver on making great entertainment accessible to more customers with top family entertainment. This new partnership with WarnerMedia is an example of that.
“We look forward to continuing to deliver more choice and value to our customers as Africa’s most loved storyteller.”