Magazine article Variety

In Search of the Next Hit Toon

Magazine article Variety

In Search of the Next Hit Toon

Article excerpt

New development strategies make pilot-to-series models seem passe

The Simpsons began as a toon segment on The Tracey Ullman Show, South Park got its jumpstart as a viral Christmas card and Robot Chicken emerged out of an Internet-only precursor. So it's long been clear that award-winning animation can be nurtured outside the traditional pilot-to-series development track.

Such once-novel routes have become commonplace. Network execs and new-media honchos have made it a priority to root out the next big hits by embracing shortform and incubating talent in-house. But the process remains an inexact science.

That's why Cartoon Network and Adult Swim, per chief content officer Rob Sorcher, are experimenting with the CN Shorts Program to breed the next big skeins. Sorcher says the program cuts the production timeline down and allows creators to avoid foundering in "development hell."

The current program and its former iteration, The Cartoonstüute, have given rise to Uncle Grandpa, Adventure Time, Rick and Morty, Steven Universe and Clarence, as well as the Emmy-winning Regular Show.

"What we're looking for in the end is that incredible spark that we think, 'Holy God, this could turn into a fire,' " Sorcher says, of the artist-led program. …

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