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.
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.
Among the new series are “Jake and the Never Land Pirates,” an animated adventure combining new and classic Disney characters Captain Hook and Smee (“Peter Pan”); a series of Disney Poetry Shorts which showcases poems for children set against classic Disney animation; two short form series, “Mickey Mousekersize” and “Special Agent Oso: Three Healthy Steps,” to encourage healthy lifestyles for preschoolers and families; “Babar and the Adventures of Badou,” an updated version of the classic “Babar,” that introduces King Babar’s energetic eight-year-old grandson, Badou, and friends as they explore the world of Celesteville; and “Tinga Tinga Tales,” a vibrant animated adventure inspired by traditional African animal folktales and the art of Tanzania. Playhouse Disney hits “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse,” “Handy Manny,” “Special Agent Oso” and “Imagination Movers,” among others, will be part of Disney Junior.
Lightcap said: “Disney Junior differentiates itself by placing a focus on story and character, the hallmarks of Disney since its inception. We’ll take memories of the Disney experience, held by generations of parents and kids, and bring them to life on TV and beyond, with elements that encourage early childhood learning, wrapped in strong emotionally connected storytelling.” She continued, “We will showcase classic Disney characters in new ways, and we are equally committed to creating new original characters that we hope will become the classics of the future.”
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!).
Planning a trip to Walt Disney World? Be the first to know when changes that potentially affect your trip occur by signing up with ReSearch! The only Disney Parks refurbishment schedule that covers attractions, dining and resorts, lets you drill down to your own specific dates and even emails you when your dates are affected — and it’s completely free!
This coming holiday, parents and their preschoolers will discover a whole new way to watch and play their favorite Disney preschool DVDs, with the all-new ‘Mickey Mote.’ This one-of-a-kind kid’s remote control from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment will debut November 16th packaged with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey’s Number Roundup and Handy Manny: Big Construction Job. The new ‘Mickey Mote’ is a child-friendly handheld remote control, shaped like Mickey ears, that will take children’s viewing experience to a whole new level by providing an engaging interaction with their favorite Disney characters. With multiple levels of play, the new Mickey Mote is designed to provide hours of fun, engaging and challenging adventures for kids age 2-5.
HOW IT WORKS: The Mickey Mote works with any Disney Preschool DVD that includes Discovery Mode™, the interactive ‘Watch & Play’ feature on the DVD. All parents have to do is program the remote control — there’s an easy and quick set-up guide in each DVD — and select the Discovery Mode feature on the menu screen. Within minutes, kids will be easily responding to questions, throughout the story, about scenes they just watched (such as ‘What color is Goofy’s hat?’) by pressing one of four color-coded buttons on the device — a yellow star, green circle, orange triangle or blue square – to click in their responses. Discovery Mode features include two levels of play, which provides more challenging questions as the child grows.
Once families have purchased a Disney Preschool DVD that comes packaged with the Mickey Mote, they can continue to build their Disney Preschool libraries, as the Mickey Mote works is compatible with any Discovery Mode enhanced DVD. For example, parents can immediately use the remote with any of the following titles: Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Road Rally Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey’s Adventures in Wonderland Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey’s Choo Choo Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Minnie’s Bow-Tique Handy Manny: Manny’s Motorcycle Adventure Handy Manny: Manny’s Big Race Little Einsteins: Fire Truck Blast Off My Friends Tigger & Pooh: Super Duper Super Sleuths My Friends Tigger & Pooh: Bedtime With Pooh. Plus look for more Discovery Mode DVDs in the future.
Suggested retail price for Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey’s Number Roundup and Handy Manny: Big Construction Job packaged with the “Mickey Mote” is $29.99.
Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Numbers Roundup features more than 100 minutes of content with five exciting, numbers-themed adventures. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is the #1 program on Playhouse Disney as well as the #1 series with children between the ages of two and five years. Bonus features include a never-before-seen bonus episode that won’t air on Disney Channel until January, 2011 as well as the Discovery Mode feature.
Note: Discovery Mode can also be played using any DVD remote control.
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.”
According to the article, another spot geared specifically towards ‘Mickey Mouse Clubhouse’ will debut on October 25. Beginning in early 2011, Playhouse Disney will be re-branded to Disney Junior and will get its own network, replacing SOAPnet, in 2012. As also previously reported by Variety, the first original program announced for Disney Junior is ‘Doc McStuffins.’
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.
The site, which can be found at DISNEYJR.COM, along with a few other variations, will no doubt eventually be home to many of the toddler-aimed classics we find currently on Playhouse Disney, although the video clip only seems to highlight Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Special Agent Oso and Handy Manny. We also know that Disney Junior will feature an animated series called Doc McStuffins, the chronicles of a six year old girl who has been blessed with the talent to communicate with stuffed animals and uses her veterinary powers to heal them.
In addition to replacing Playhouse Disney on Disney Channel at some point in 2011, Disney will launch the Disney Junior network in 2012, a 24/7 television channel that will air its branded programming, replacing SOAPnet which is also owned by Disney.
“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.
In “Handy Manny Big Construction Job,” Manny and the tools – Felipe, Pat, Turner, Stretch, Squeeze, Dusty, Rusty and Flicker – head to Concrete Falls to take on the exciting challenge of working on a big city construction job where they meet exciting new power tool friends, Jack the jackhammer and Spinner the power drill.
In Manny’s absence, Mr. Lopart is busy handling repairs in Sheet Rock Hills, causing the town to slowly fall apart. After friends and neighbors rush to Kelly’s store to inquire when Manny and the tools will return, Kelly sets out to find Manny and the tools and convince them to come home. The special features three new original songs – “Hey Manny,” “Power Tools” and “It’s Good to be Back Home” – performed by Manny and the cast of tools.
Valderrama and Maria Canals-Barrera, of “Wizards of Waverly Place” and “Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam,” will host interstitials highlighting Hispanic traditions which will air daily throughout the month-long celebration (September 15–October 15) on Disney Channel. The interstitials will also feature kid viewers sharing cultural traditions such as La Arana, Los Pollitos, salsa dancing and Quinceañeras.
On Monday, October 4, a full-length preview of the primetime special will be presented on Disney Channel On Demand. The episode will simulcast on mobile providers Sprint TV, FloTV and MobiTV in concurrence with its television premiere, and beginning Tuesday, October 12, it will be available on mobile VOD for AT&T CV, Sprint TV and Verizon V Cast customers. The special will be available on iTunes and Xbox Live on November 16, in conjunction with the DVD release of “Handy Manny Big Construction Job” from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment.
Building up to the premiere on Disney Channel, PlayhouseDisney.com will launch the interactive “Manny’s Big Crane Game,” as well as activities, do-it-yourself craft ideas and healthy kid-friendly recipes all themed to “Handy Manny Big Construction Job.”
Images courtesy of Playhouse Disney/Disney Channel. © Disney Channel. All Rights Reserved.
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.
Chuggington has been licensed to more than 175 territories worldwide and has established a highly successful ratings record in several key international markets including the UK (BBC – CBeebies), Germany (Super-RTL), France (TF1), Australia (ABC) and Canada (Treehouse). In addition well over 125 consumer products and publishing agreements have been concluded throughout the world.