Hearts of New Yorkers felt a bit of warmth this morning as lovebirds Mickey and Minnie Mouse took to the heart of chilly Times Square. The couple were celebrating Valentine’s Day a few days early in anticipation of the launch of the Disney Junior programming block which begins February 14 on Disney Channel and Radio Disney, with a whole new 24-hours network launching in 2012.
The A-list couple were also joined by Disney starlet Madison Pettis who joined in on the early celebration. Pettis, who is no stranger to any Disney Channel viewer, provides the voice of Izzy on the Disney Junior original animated series, ‘Jake and the Neverland Pirates.’
Photos by Lou Rocco, courtesy of and © Disney Channel
Radio Disney Junior, a music block designed for kids age 2-7, will debut Monday, February 14 from 12 pm – 1 pm ET (9 am – 10 am) on Radio Disney, coinciding with the launch of Disney Junior on Disney Channel and Disney.com. The national broadcast and satellite network is the No. 1 radio platform for kids and families. Its new Radio Disney Junior block will feature an expanded roster of music and artists appealing to young kids, plus fun “audio theater” with Disney Junior characters. DJ Hallie is the host of the Radio Disney Junior block, airing weekdays.
Music from The Laurie Berkner Band, Elizabeth Mitchell and Jack Johnson, and popular songs from Disney Junior series including “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse,” “Handy Manny” and “Imagination Movers,” plus music from The Never Land Pirate Band of the upcoming adventure series, “Jake and the Never Land Pirates,” will be part of Radio Disney Junior.
Among the scheduled guests joining DJ Hallie for Radio Disney Junior Take Overs are the Imagination Movers, “Choo Choo Soul” stars Genevieve Goings and DC, and stars from the new “Jake and the Never Land Pirates,” including Captain Hook and Mr. Smee, Sharky and Bones of The Never Land Pirate Band, Ariel Winter (of ABC’s “Modern Family”), who is the voice of Marina the Mermaid, and Madison Pettis (of Disney’s “The Game Plan”), who is the voice of Izzy.
Programming schedule for Radio Disney Junior’s debut month is as follows:
February 14-18 “Jake and the Never Land Pirates” stars Captain Hook, Mr. Smee, Sharky and Bones
February 21-23 “Jake and the Never Land Pirates” star Madison Pettis (voice of Izzy)
February 24-25 “Jake and the Never Land Pirates” star Ariel Winter (voice of Marina the Mermaid)
February 28-March 4 “Choo Choo Soul” stars Genevieve Goings and DC;
Goings is also the featured artist on the new Disney Junior theme song “I Wanna Go.”
March 7-11 Imagination Movers
Joe D’Ambrosia has been named Vice President, Programming, Disney Junior, it was announced today by Nancy Kanter, Senior Vice President, Disney Junior Worldwide, to whom D’Ambrosia reports. D’Ambrosia joins Disney after nearly two decades of writing, producing and developing children’s television programming and family films at companies including Murray Hill 5 Productions, which he co-founded, Nickelodeon and Sony Pictures Family Entertainment.
For the newly branded Disney Junior (currently branded Playhouse Disney), D’Ambrosia oversees production and programming strategies and creative development of entertainment and learning-based television properties including the upcoming animated adventure series “Jake and the Never Land Pirates,” featuring new kid pirates alongside Disney’s classic “Peter Pan” characters Captain Hook and Mr. Smee, and current hits “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” and “Special Agent Oso.” D’Ambrosia is also developing new full length and short-form series, including a series starring Minnie Mouse and “Sofia the First” (fka “Little Princess”), a series set in the storybook world of the classic Disney Princesses.
Kanter said: “Joe is one of the most well-liked and well respected people in the business, and we are thrilled to have him join our team. His past experience as a movie executive working with a wide range of writers and producers will open up new creative possibilities for Disney Junior.”
D’Ambrosia said: “I’m excited to introduce a whole new generation to the magic of Disney storytelling. It is an honor and a privilege to create exciting new stories for such classic characters as Minnie Mouse, Daisy Duck and Captain Hook, and some new characters too.”
D’Ambrosia began his career at Nickelodeon where he launched their family film division, serving as the development and production executive on their first live action feature, “Harriet the Spy,” and their first animated feature, “Rugrats, The Movie.” He also oversaw development of the films “Rugrats in Paris” and “Snow Day.” D’Ambrosia left Nickelodeon to help launch Sony Pictures Family Entertainment, overseeing the development and production of numerous family films and television series, including the movie “Land of the Lost” and The KidsWB! television series, “Phantom Investigators.” Recently, with his Murray Hill 5 Productions partner Tom Teves, D’Ambrosia developed, wrote and produced “Astro Boy” for Sony Pictures Television, which aired in 20 countries. The duo also created “Golden Bridges,” based on the classic book series “Golden Books,” for The Learning Channel. Additional credits include the feature films “Mother of Invention” for Walt Disney Pictures, “Motel Galileo” and “Hello, I Love You” for Wind Dancer Films and “Escape from Island X” for Wildbrain Entertainment, and the television series “Undercover 101″ for Lifetime Television, “Come Spy with Me” for ABC Family and “Blood+” for Sony Television.
Disney Junior, a new multiplatform destination for kids age 2-7, one that reflects the emotional connection generations of consumers have to Disney storytelling and Disney characters, both classic and contemporary, will debut Monday, February 14 (8:30 a.m., ET/PT), anchored by the new animated series “Jake and the Never Land Pirates.” Five other new series also join the Disney Junior schedule: the short form titles “Mickey Mousekersize,” “Special Agent Oso: Three Healthy Steps” (supporting Disney’s Magic of Healthy Living initiative) and “A Poem Is…” (narrated by Jennifer Garner and Katie Holmes, among other familiar voices), and full length series “Babar and the Adventures of Badou” and “Tinga Tinga Tales.” Viewers’ current favorites, “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse,” “Handy Manny,” “Special Agent Oso,” “Jungle Junction” and “Imagination Movers,” will also be seen on Disney Junior.
Disney Junior’s animated and live action programming will blend Disney’s unparalleled storytelling and beloved characters with learning components, including early math and language skills, as well as healthy eating and lifestyles, with an emphasis on social and emotional development.
The announcement was made today at the Television Critics Association Press Tour in Pasadena, California by Gary Marsh, president, Entertainment, and chief creative officer, Disney Channels Worldwide.
Marsh said: “Disney Junior will be an entry point into the world of Disney for young kids, creating a world – online and on-air – that captures the magic of Disney and its classic heartfelt storytelling and timeless characters beloved by generations.”
Disney Junior (currently Playhouse Disney) will be available as a programming block weekdays (4:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m., ET/PT) and weekends (4:00–9:00 a.m., ET/PT) on Disney Channel in more than 99 million U.S. homes. This year it will also debut on 25 Disney Junior channels (currently Playhouse Disney channels) and free-to-air broadcast partners around the world. In 2012 Disney Junior will debut as a 24-hour basic cable and satellite channel in the U.S.
DisneyJunior.com, an engaging, learning-focused Disney destination for kids age 2-7 and their parents, accompanies the television launch. The site will feature storybooks narrated by popular Disney characters, activities that encourage creativity, over 150 full-length episodes of “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse,” “Handy Manny,” “Special Agent Oso” and “Imagination Movers,” and a wide array of 90 games featuring characters from Disney Princesses, “Toy Story” and “Cars,” among other Disney favorites. The site will also debut a “Jake and the Never Land Pirates” supersite, featuring adventure-themed games including “Jake’s Treasure Hunt,” where users help Jake and crew find hidden treasure and escape from Captain Hook, and “Izzy’s Flying Adventure,” where players use Pixie dust to help Izzy and the gang fly off to stop Captain Hook, who has stolen their treasure. A dedicated section for parent and caregivers will highlight character-inspired recipes, crafts and party planning tips and ideas, along with how-to videos.
Beginning Monday, February 7, a full-length preview of “Jake and the Never Land Pirates” will be available on Disney Channel on Demand (SVOD) and an 11-minute preview episode will be available on DisneyJunior.com, Disney Channel on Demand (Free VOD), Disney Channel mobile VOD providers and iTunes. As of the February 14 television premiere, the series will be simulcast on Disney Channel’s mobile providers Sprint TV, FloTV and MobiTV. New episodes will be available on DisneyJunior.com, Disney Channel on Demand, Disney Channel mobile VOD and simulcast providers, as well as iTunes and Xbox.
“Jake and the Never Land Pirates” is a new animated adventure series that introduces a crew of kid pirates – leader Jake and pals Izzy and Cubby – and follows their Never Land adventures as they work to outwit two infamous characters, the one and only Captain Hook and Smee, from Disney’s classic “Peter Pan.” The series, which emphasizes teamwork, features original pirate rock music performed by The Never Land Pirate Band. Many of the key creative professionals behind Disney’s #1 series for preschoolers, “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse,” are at the helm of “Jake and the Never Land Pirates.” Rob LaDuca executive-produces, with Mark Seidenberg serving as producer/story editor, Kelly Ward as voice director and Howy Parkins directing the series. It is a production of Disney Television Animation.
“Mickey Mousekersize,” a new short-form series part of Disney’s Magic of Healthy Living initiative is hosted by Mickey Mouse and focuses on the fun of exercising, encouraging children at home to get up and move along with Mickey and pals.
“Special Agent Oso: Three Healthy Steps,” a new short-form series part of Disney’s Magic of Healthy Living features Oso and friends as they watch a live-action kid demonstrate three healthy steps to exercising and eating right. Sean Astin and Brad Garrett star as Oso and Buffo.
“A Poem Is…” is a short-form animated series showcasing poems for children set to scenes and imagery from classic Disney films including “Dumbo,” “Bambi” and “Lady and the Tramp.” Narrated by Katie Holmes and Jennifer Garner, the series is designed to cultivate fond memories of Disney classics for parents and create new ones for kids by introducing young children to the beauty of a poem.
“Babar and the Adventures of Badou” is an updated version of the classic “Babar” series and introduces King Babar’s energetic eight-year-old grandson, Badou, and friends as they explore the world of Celesteville.
“Tinga Tinga Tales” is a vibrant animated adventure series inspired by traditional African animal folktales and the art of Tanzania.
Disney/ABC Television Group will launch Disney Junior, a new multiplatform brand and 24-hour basic cable/satellite channel and online site devoted to preschool-age children. Scheduled to debut in the U.S. in 2012, Disney Junior will invite mom and dad to join their child in the Disney experience of magical, musical and heartfelt stories and characters, both classic and new, while incorporating specific learning and development themes designed for kids age 2-7.
The new Disney Junior brand will also provide affiliate partners with a robust Video-On-Demand offering, a High-definition network and a Spanish language SAP feed.
Disney Junior’s animated and live action programming will blend Disney’s unparalleled storytelling and characters kids love deeply with learning, including early math, language skills, healthy eating and lifestyles, and social skills.
The 24-hour Disney Junior schedule will include 200 new episodes annually of both new series, including “Jake and the Never Land Pirates,” and current hits, including “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse,” “Handy Manny,” “Special Agent Oso,” “Imagination Movers” and “Jungle Junction.” Disney’s vast array of classic and contemporary movies, including among others “101 Dalmatians,” “Aladdin” and “Little Mermaid,” will be showcased.
In the U.S., the new Disney Junior channel will take the place of the SOAPnet channel, currently available in 75 million homes. Prior to the launch of the 24-hour channel, the Disney Junior brand will be introduced on Disney Channel’s daily programming block for preschoolers (currently branded Playhouse Disney).
Anne Sweeney, co-chair, Disney Media Networks and president, Disney/ABC Television Group, said: “The launch of Disney Junior in the U.S. is the next step in our global preschool strategy, which began 10 years ago with the premiere of our first dedicated preschool channel in the UK. The decision to ultimately transition SOAPnet to accomplish this was not arrived at lightly. SOAPnet was created in 2000 to give daytime viewers the ability to watch time-shifted soaps, before multiplatform viewing and DVRs were part of our vocabulary. But today, as technology and our businesses evolve, it makes more sense to align this distribution with a preschool channel that builds on the core strengths of our company.”
Carolina Lightcap, president, Disney Channels Worldwide, said: “Around the world, our Disney-branded channels are burgeoning, distinguished by the special place Disney has in the hearts of kids — who delight in our characters and stories — and parents who trust our commitment to entertaining and helping their preschoolers, kids and tweens grow through engaging, relevant programming.” She continued, “By adding a dedicated U.S. channel for preschoolers to our global portfolio, we look forward to enhancing that sense of magical storytelling and parental trust, and expanding our offerings, locally and globally, from morning to night, to deliver more Disney-quality content that will resonate with generations to come.”
Outside the U.S., the 22 Playhouse Disney channels and blocks, currently available in 29 languages in 156 countries/territories, reaching over 45 million households, will be rebranded Disney Junior beginning in 2011.