What’s New at Nick?

Posted by Joe Strike on Mar 15, 2012 in Animation, Television |

Nickelodeon logo

Hey, it’s uprfront time again, when the TV networks do their best razzle-dazzle to get the advertisers excited over their new and returning shows. Nickelodeon’s particularly good at this (not that I’ve been to that many all told) and yesterday’s was no exception. Once again the network took over the Jazz at Lincoln Center venue on Columbus Circle and invited several hundred ad agency folks and a few media reporters (hi mom!) to the event.

We’re waiting for the festivities to begin, watching a loop of semi-creepy Nickelodeon cgi logos forming out of wavy tendrils, bubbles, shaggy fur, roiling… somethings on the giant videoscreen while an occasional announcer lets us know the event will “begin in five minutes” – every five minutes.

Big Time Rush

Finally the house lights dim, and out on the multi-level, giant videoscreen-festooned stage comes “Big Time Rush,” Nick’s in-house boy band to perform a sharply choreographed song and dance number. BTR’s show is going into its second season, with their very own Big Time Movie not far behind. (The film looks to be extremely A Hard Day’s Night-ian, judging from the poster mock-up of Kendal, James, Carlos and Logan in a black and white photo romping in front of Big Ben.)

 Monkey Quest

Cyma Zarghmi, pres of the Nickelodeon group follows, kvelling as she tells us that Nick is in fantastic shape, still the number-one cable network for 17 straight years. Oops, a comment that “we won’t let our recent ratings slip slow down our creative efforts” is quickly followed by more upbeat news: a total of 650 new episodes of its various series airing this year, 10 million Monkey Quest players in the channel’s multi-player online game, animated series coming up from skateboard god Rob Drydek and the NFL, “One Direction,” whom I’m told is a super-hot Brit boy band (they sold out Radio City and did a Friday morning Rock Center Today show performance) has Nick a movie in the works…

Talking about Nick movies, the channel has Rags, a made-for airing shortly that actually looks kinda cute. Nick Cannon, its executive producer (and chairman of TeenNick – whole lotta Nicks going on here) described it as a reverse Cinderella story. (Hey Nick, it’s been done; remember Jerry Lewis as Cinderfella? Uh, probably not since it came out 22 years before you were born.)

They know how to cultivate talent at Nick: the film stars Max Schneider, from the channel’s How to Rock series as an orphan under the thumb of a sleazy (he practically radiates sleaze) stepdad and his airhead, hair-gelled stepbrothers. When he strikes up a relationship with the rock goddess played by Kekke Palmer (from yet another Nick series) and gets invited to her masquerade ball, he looks like a million bucks in his slick satin suit, Zorro mask and straw hat; I just might dress like that next Halloween.

CGI Ninja Turtles

A montage of blam-o! scenes from Michael Bay movies (with an ultra-bassy sound mix that had my internal organs vibrating) led to an appearance by the man himself. Seems the channel is launching a CGI Ninja Turtles series this fall, followed by a Bay-produced live-action theatrical movie in 2013. Bay screened a lengthy ‘pre-viz’ action sequence from the film featuring a new breed of Turtle, human proportioned alien visitors (what, no mutagen?) guaranteed to have the purists up in arms.

All sortsa other stuff went down: a show based on a goofball YouTube series featuring “Fred Figglehorn,” a squeaky-voiced cross between Jim Varney’s Ernest and Martin Short’s Ed Grimley. (Can you believe it? Something a kid in Columbus Nebraska dreamed up just for fun was his ticket to the big time); live action shows based on aspiring rock bands and mean girls, an assortment of new cartoon series (including The Legend of Korra, an Avatar the Last Airbender sequel) and Hollywood Heights, an 80-hour Americanization of a Spanish language ‘telenovela’ set for a Nick at Night primetime slot. Things wrapped up with a sizzling number from Rachel Crow, a 14-year old pop-singer (just about the only female performer onstage the entire day who didn’t look like she stepped off a fashion runway) who totally, naturally commanded the audience. She’s getting her own show down the road, and if she doesn’t pull a Lindsay Lohan she is definitely going to be a star long after her Nick series leaves the air.

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