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.
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.
In February 2011, Disney Channel will debut Disney Junior, a new multiplatform brand devoted to children ages 2-7 and their families, it was announced today by Carolina Lightcap, president, Disney Channels Worldwide. Disney Junior will invite parents and grandparents to join their children in the Disney experience of magical, musical and heartfelt stories and characters, both classic and new, while incorporating specific learning and developmental themes. Disney Junior will launch content across the daily television block on Disney Channel, an integrated website, VOD, mobile and paid download platforms.
The official Walt Disney World Resort website began reporting yesterday that the ‘Playhouse Disney – Live On Stage!’ show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be closing for refurbishment on January 30 and scheduled to re-open on March 6. Although there is speculation that the refurbishment may be to change the limited references to those of ‘Disney Junior’ (which is likely), it’s also almost the exact same time period the attraction closed last time to debut as its current incarnation in 2008 which means that there could be some show changes in the works as well. If that were to be happening, it’s most likely to remove the canceled ‘My Friends Tigger and Pooh’ and inject some more current and relevant content such as ‘Special Agent Oso’ (who would actually fit in quite perfectly with the current show) or even ‘Timmy Time’ if licensing allows. On a side note, the last change ‘replaced’ human Jamie with Casey and as of yet, no public casting notices have been published to that effect (still plenty of ambiguous names to go!).
Variety is reporting that Disney Channel will begin touting its Playhouse Disney to Disney Junior transition Monday, October 11 during the ‘Handy Manny: Big Construction Job’ prime-time special. The ad will feature one of several different variations of the previously introduced Disney Junior logo, this one being the individual letters in ‘Junior’ stylized after the ‘sensational six’ characters featured in ‘Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.’
According to Disney Channels Worldwide senior marketing and creative VP Richard Loomis, “Each one has sort of a fun, play-along factor. Some of the letters of ‘Junior’ are very obvious in terms of which characters they express, and some are a little bit more subtle. It’s simple, but it does have another layer.”
Do not get excited. Do not pass GO. Do not collect $200. This tiny milestone offers virtually nothing in terms of what we can expect from Disney Junior when it replaces the Playhouse Disney moniker on an unspecified date in 2011 other than a junior-sized video promo which is already in rotation on Disney Channel.
“Handy Manny,” the Emmy-nominated Playhouse Disney series that celebrates Hispanic culture and language through its loveable handyman, moves into primetime with an all new special, “Handy Manny Big Construction Job,” premiering during Hispanic Heritage Month, MONDAY, OCTOBER 11 (7:00-7:55 p.m., ET/PT) on Disney Channel. In the fun-filled event for preschoolers and their families, Manny (played by Wilmer Valderrama) and the tools leave Sheet Rock Hills to work on a big out-of-town construction job where they meet new tool friends, Jack the jackhammer and Spinner the power drill.
Variety is reporting that Disney Channel will be adding ‘Timmy Time’ from Aardman Studios beginning September 13 with a sneak preview on September 7. Already known to viewers of ‘Shaun the Sheep,’ Timmy, the baby lamb, is the star of the new Playhouse Disney/Disney Junior show which relies on gestures and animal noises to teach its pre-school level lessons.
‘Preschoolers can easily identify with Timmy as he learns universal lessons about himself, his friends and the world around him,’ according to Jackie Cockle, the creator, producer and supervising director for the series.
Ludorum plc, a leading specialist in the creation of global pre-school children’s IP, announced today that it has licensed the second season of 13 half hour episodes of Chuggington, its successful train-based, CGI-animated series, to Disney Channel for its Playhouse Disney programming block in the United States. The acquisition of the second season follows the success of the first season of 26 half hours which commenced broadcast on Playhouse Disney in January 2010 and currently airs seven days a week. The channel has acquired all U.S. television rights to the property.
Disney has ordered a fourth season of its #1 series for preschoolers, “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.” Consisting of 13 new episodes and nine extended specials, Season Four will premiere on the recently announced Disney Junior, a new television and online brand and, ultimately, a re-branded 24-hour basic cable/satellite channel devoted to preschool-age children around the world.