Thursday, May 17, 2012

Television Dragon

To catch people up: I journeyed to the production site of How to Train Your Dragon (the tv series) this morning, ostensibly for (yet another) 401(k) enrollment meeting ...

The television version of Dragon was originally produced by APU, the union subsidiary of Wildbrain Animation, but there had been -- so I'm informed by impeccable sources -- a few issues between the mother ship and its sub-contractor. Don't know what all of them were, but the scuttlebutt was that APU wasn't delivering all the bells and whistles promised in the original bid. (OhmyGod! Never heard of anything like that happening before!)

So in late April/early May the production transitioned from APU/Wildbrain to DreamWorks Animation. Same crew, and many of the same administrators, but now the staff has the option to participate in the Animation Guild's 401(k) Plan, since APU declined to sign the 401(k) Trust Agreement, much to some crew members' regret.

A show exec told me that the series will be doing a second season, which would be good news for folks near the end of their runs on Season One, I would think. Some artists have been with the production for a year.

DreamWorks Animation is edging back into television work after being away from it for some years. In the go-go nineties, the company had a television unit on Ventura Boulevard in Encino, but the original plans for producing most or all of a broadcast network's Saturday morning half-hours never came to fruition, and the syndicated market withered and died, so DWA ended its push to do lots of animated product for the small screen.

The last couple of years, however, Jeffrey's boys and girls have reversed course. Although "Kung Fu Panda" and "The Penguins of Madagascar" were shopped to Nickelodeon, "Dragon" marks the second series for which DWA has taken the helm. "Neighbors from Hell" originally done by Bento Box, was the first.


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