Originally Posted on 11/04/2009 by Jeff Harris
Today, the sun came out, as it always does. But today felt different for some reason. I couldn't put my finger on it at time as why it felt different.
Perhaps it was because today was the first day in a long, long time that I didn't have to hear or see wall-to-wall negative political ads. I don't drink, but I felt tempted to do so a number of times from the endless barraging on both sides about how one is a privileged Manchurian candidate doing the will of a religious despot and how the other is a whiny, prissy little stutterer who only thrives in name-calling his opponents. Ended up liking neither by the end of the cycle.
That noise wasn't cluttering the air, which made it sound so good today. But that's not entirely why it felt different.
Perhaps it was because of the fact that action is reclaiming Saturday nights on Cartoon Network. But I talked about that the other day. It's nice, but that's not why today felt different.
Looking into the future, and there seems like there are going to be a few changes to the Cartoon Network lineup. That's right, a long time favorite finally returns to the daily lineup.
For the first time in a long time, Johnny Bravo returns to Cartoon Network. Oh, and so does Looney Tunes in an hour-long weekday morning time slot. You're not dreaming, and as far as I know, this isn't a glitch in the matrix. Bugs, Daffy, Porky, Sylvester, and Tweety finally return to American television starting on Monday, November 16 at 11 AM E/P on Cartoon Network.
Has the rift between Warner Bros. Animation and Cartoon Network, two entities that should have worked very well together, but for close to a decade, hasn't, finally been mended? It's not certain, but considering tha two factors that led to the almost miraculous return of that wascally wabbit to the States, one can hope that peace between the two is finally a reality.
The one major factor is that Cartoon Network's ratings have been sinking to near record lows. The CN Real programs have largely been a complete failure, and even though the powers that be are hellbent on making more of those types of shows, the audience they want aren't watching. A key example of their misguided live-action direction was best illustrated the day before Halloween. Cartoon Network promoted the hell out of their Outsiders hour-long special and didn't promote a repeat of the Mainframe-produced Scary Godmother sequel, Jimmy's Revenge hours earlier. Othersiders got a rating of 658,000 viewers in the K2-11 demographic for the special, but Scary Godmother got a whopping (at least by Cartoon Network standards) 1,062,000 in the same demographic.
Perhaps THAT was the straw that led to the two major decisions that took place over the weekend. The new Saturday night action block is premiering this weekend, and the following week, Johnny Bravo, a long time fan favorite, returns to the daily lineup of Cartoon Network. The following weekend, Cartoon Network has a mini-marathon of Looney Tunes shorts on November 15 for much of the afternoon. The following day, for the first time since 2002, Looney Tunes is on Cartoon Network in a daily hour-long strip, every morning at 11 AM. While it's no way going to wash clean the past eight months of pimping a failed concept like CN Real nor will it halt the flow of new live-action reality shows on the horizon (yet), some people see this as vindication for those that felt the network has been swerving in a bad direction. At least for one moment, it seems like the toons are regaining control of their network, and it's about time.
But what is that second factor I hinted at that could cause a healing of the rift between Warner Bros. Animation and Cartoon Network? Why, that would be the current hierarchy at the studio. Warner Bros. Animation's Executive Vice President of Creative Affairs (i.e. the studio leader) is Sam Register, whose Cartoon Network connections are found throughout his DNA. Before he got to that promotion, Register was the guy behind the Cartoon Network website where he created the popular Cartoon Orbit site and rose to the position of Senior Vice President, Development of the network. He helped develop shows like Teen Titans, Ben 10 (and its follow up, Ben 10 Alien Force), Duck Dodgers, The Batman, the Star Wars: Clone Wars microseries, Justice League Unlimited and Transformers: Animated as well as created Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi for the network and produced Powerpuff Girls Z for the Japanese market. While set up at Warner Bros. Animation, Register served as the executive producer of many of the studio's recent output, including the Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, and Superman/Batman Public Enemies DC Universe films and the new Batman: The Brave and the Bold series. Outside of Warner Bros. he served as the executive producer of the GI Joe: Resolute animated project that many people felt outshined the theatrical film released months later.
Register recently hired a pair of executives to help mold Warner Bros. Animation into a better studio. One of those is Peter Giraldi, who's the Senior Vice President of Series and Alternative Animation. Giraldi's company, Funny Garbage, was responsible for the first generation of Cartoon Network's offical webpage, where he and a talented group of creators he brought together launched Web Premiere Toons, original web cartoons made exclusively for Cartoon Network. Funny Garbage also produced JBVO, an interactive talk show hosted by Johnny Bravo (who's returning to the Cartoon Network lineup next week) and a pair of Adult Swim shows, Minoriteam and Saul of the Mole Men as well as designed the opening titles to Teen Titans, Duck Dodgers, and The Batman. He's going to supervise the development of new series for all ages and all mediums, including cable, broadcast, direct-to-DVD, streaming, and whatever comes along in the forseeable future.
Another new executive at Warner Bros. Animation with ties to Cartoon Network is Jay Bastian, who's now the Vice President of Series for the studio. His Cartoon Network roots flow from a decade of supervising day-to-day operations of many of the network's properties of the decade, including Codename Kids Next Door, Courage the Cowardly Dog, Justice League, Sheep in the Big City, Ed, Edd, and Eddy, Juniper Lee, Megas XLR, The Secret Saturdays, Chowder, and The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, which he also supervised the specials, including The Grim Adventures of the Kids Next Door and Underfist. He currently oversees the Brave and the Bold and Cartoon Network's upcoming Scooby-Doo: Mystery, Inc. and will oversee a lot of shows from the studio that will likely air on Cartoon Network in the forseeable future.
These three individuals are, more or less, going to play as big a role in Cartoon Network's future as Snyder and Sorcher, and by all likelyhood, Register, Giraldi, and Bastian will be around longer than Snyder and Sorcher. Someone higher than the two Techwood-based folks made the decision to bring more animated content to Cartoon Network in light of the recent disappointing results of the live-action products that aren't based on animated properties. I'm not saying that they're going to get rid of all the live-action shows on the network (trust me, they're still plucking that chicken), but if the audience rebounds as a result of the returning animated series, then maybe common sense will return as well to Cartoon Network. After all, Cartoon is their first name.
Right now, new animated shows are in the works for Cartoon Network in the coming months and years. Perhaps the decision to reintroduce Looney Tunes to the younger set who largely have no idea who they are was spurred on to make the upcoming Looney Tunes series coming next year that much more appealing as well as build in a bigger audience when it finally does air.
Needless to say, the long, dividing rift between Warner Bros. Animation and Cartoon Network is slowly healing. It'll take a while, but right now, we're going to benefit from this newfound peace.
Looney Tunes on American television is a great start.
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