Category Archives: Backstage Hollywood

Nickelodeon Launches Avatar Studios

NICKELODEON ESTABLISHES AVATAR STUDIOS, BRAND-NEW CONTENT DIVISION DEVOTED TO EXPANDING THE WORLD OF AVATAR: LAST AIRBENDER AND THE LEGEND OF KORRA

Original Series’ Creators Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko Join Nickelodeon as Co-Chief Creative Officers of Avatar Studios

 First Project Under New Studio Banner is an Original Animated Theatrical Film to Begin Production This Year

 Nickelodeon today announced the launch of Avatar Studios, a newly formed division designed to create original content spanning animated series and movies based on the beloved world of Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra. Original creators and executive producers Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko will helm the studio as co-chief creative officers, reporting to Ramsey Naito, President, Nickelodeon Animation. The Studio’s output will bow on platforms including Paramount+, ViacomCBS’ subscription video on-demand service; on Nickelodeon’s own linear and digital platforms; as well as on third-party platforms and in theaters.

The first project from Avatar Studios is slated as an animated theatrical film set to begin production this year. Additional details will be available soon.

“Avatar: The Last Airbender and Korra have grown at least ten-fold in popularity since their original hit runs on Nickelodeon, and Ramsey Naito and I are incredibly excited to have Mike and Bryan’s genius talent on board to helm a studio devoted to expanding their characters and world into new content and formats for fans everywhere,” said Brian Robbins, President, ViacomCBS Kids & Family.

Mr. Robbins adds, “Creator-driven stories and characters have long been the hallmarks of Nickelodeon, and Avatar Studios is a way to give Mike and Bryan the resources and runway to open up their imaginations even more and dive deeper into the action and mythology of Avatar as we simultaneously expand upon that world and the world of content available on Paramount+ and Nickelodeon.”

“It’s hard to believe it’s been 19 years since we created Avatar: The Last Airbender. But even after all that time, there are still many stories and time periods in Aang’s world that we are eager to bring to life. We are fortunate to have an ever-growing community of passionate fans that enjoys exploring the Avatarverse as much as we do. And with this new Avatar Studios venture we have an unparalleled opportunity to develop our franchise and its storytelling on a vast scale, in myriad exciting ways and mediums. We are exceedingly grateful to Brian Robbins and Ramsey Naito for their enthusiasm and respect for the Avatar property and us as its stewards. From the start, they’ve supported our ambitious plans and created a positive, proactive environment for us. We’re excited to be back at Nickelodeon where Avatar began, doing what we do best in the biggest way possible. We can’t wait to build the great teams and productions to make all of this fantasy a reality,” said Bryan Konietzko and Michael DiMartino.

Nickelodeon’s Avatar: The Last Airbender aired for three seasons originally on Nickelodeon, where it began in February 2005 and concluded in July 2008.

The series has received the Peabody Award, a Primetime Emmy, Annie Awards and Genesis Awards. The series follows the adventures of the main protagonist Aang and his friends, who must save the world by defeating Fire Lord Ozai and ending the destructive war with the Fire Nation.

Avatar: The Last Airbender emerged from its initial three seasons (61 episodes) as one of the most beloved animated properties in history. In addition to the series’ success, the property also has been translated into a successful comic book and graphic novel series, which continue to roll out new original stories. The “Avatar: The Last Airbender” graphic novel spent 70 cumulative weeks on the New York Times Graphic Novel Bestseller list, hitting number one. The DVD and Blu-rays are also incredibly successful, with the “Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Complete Series” generating nearly $5MM in retail sales since its 2018 release.

The Legend of Korra launched in April 2012 on Nickelodeon and ran for four seasons (52 episodes). Its first season premiered as basic cable’s number one kid’s show and drew 3.8 million viewers per episode, the highest for an animated series that year. Also created and executive produced by DiMartino and Konietzko, the series is translated in more than 25 languages for Nickelodeon branded channels internationally.

The property has translated into a successful ongoing graphic novel series written by TV series co-creator DiMartino. The first graphic novel storyline, Legend of Korra: Turf Wars, has captured various Top 10 sales spots across children’s fiction, YA science fiction, and graphic novel categories since its debut in 2017. The epic story of The Legend of Korra, set in the world of Avatar: The Last Airbender 70 years later, follows the journey of Avatar Korra, a 17-year-old girl striving to live up to the legacy of her predecessor Avatar Aang, while using her mastery of all four elements to confront political and spiritual unrest in a modernizing world.

About Bryan Konietzko

Bryan Konietzko graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design’s illustration department in 1998. He worked in TV animation as a character designer, storyboard artist, and art director before teaming up with Michael DiMartino to co-create and executive produce the Nickelodeon animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra. He is the creator of the upcoming graphic novel series Threadworlds, to be published by First Second Books.

About Mike DiMartino

Michael Dante DiMartino began his training at the Rhode Island School of Design where he graduated in 1996 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Film and Animation Department. His directing credits include the primetime animated series King of the Hill, Family Guy, and Mission Hill. DiMartino is a co-creator of the award-winning animated Nickelodeon series Avatar: The Last Airbender and its sequel, The Legend of Korra. From 2002 to 2014 he served as executive producer and story editor on both series. He continues Korra’s story as writer for the graphic novel, Turf Wars, published by Dark Horse comics. He is also the author of the fantasy novels Rebel Genius and Warrior Genius. DiMartino currently resides in Los Angeles with his wife and two children.

About Nickelodeon

Nickelodeon, now in its 41st year, is the number-one entertainment brand for kids. It has built a diverse, global business by putting kids first in everything it does. The brand includes television programming and production in the United States and around the world, plus consumer products, digital, location-based experiences, publishing and feature films.  Nickelodeon and all related titles, characters and logos are trademarks of ViacomCBS Inc. (Nasdaq: VIACA, VIAC).

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This content (c) 2021, Nickelodeon, all rights reserved, used with kind courtesy of Nickelodeon. The Hollywood Sentinel.

Nickelodeon Hires New VP of Programming

Nickelodeon has named CBS News’ 60 Minutes veteran producer and Emmy and Peabody Award-winner Magalie Laguerre-Wilkinson as Vice President of News Programming for the leading kids’ network, as well as Executive Producer of the recently rebooted Nick News series.  In her newly created role, Laguerre-Wilkinson will spearhead Nick’s commitment of speaking to kids about the news and issues of the day,  overseeing all aspects of research, development and execution of news segments across Nickelodeon’s platforms.

For long-form news content, she will serve as Executive Producer of the net’s heralded Nick News series, which was recently rebooted in June with the acclaimed Kids Race and Unity special, hosted by Alicia Keys and which Laguerre-Wilkinson co-executive produced.  Based in New York, she will report to Brian Robbins, President of ViacomCBS Kids & Family Entertainment.

Brian Robbins states, “Magalie is a gifted journalist and producer with a long-proven ability to communicate the news of the day with compassion, empathy and precision.  Kids are well aware of the issues that affect their families and the world, and the talent and experience Magalie brings will serve as the foundation for how we aid or spark important conversations for our audience.”

Magalie Laguerre-Wilkinson joins Nickelodeon from CBS News’ 60 Minutes, America’s most watched news program, where she served for over 15 years as an Associate Producer and Producer on stories for Ed Bradley, Lesley Stahl, Bob Simon, Steve Kroft, Anderson Cooper, and more. She was the key producer on one of the broadcast’s most memorable and inspiring stories about the Kimbanguist Symphony Orchestra in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which won Peabody and Emmy accolades.

She has reported from around the world, while also covering domestic stories including Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and Sandy in New York. Most recently, she produced stories on the political divide in the United States with Oprah Winfrey as a contributing correspondent, as well as profiles of French street artist, JR and the new music director of the New York Philharmonic, Jaap van Zweden. An interview host at Carnegie Council’s Ethics Matter and a producer and reporter for CUNY TV’s Arts in the City, Magalie Laguerre-Wilkinson previously worked as correspondent for CBS Evening News and producer for NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw.

The original Nick News, created, written, and anchored by Linda Ellerbee, and produced by her company, Lucky Duck Productions, aired on Nickelodeon for 25 years, ending when Ellerbee retired in 2016.  Nick News won 10 Emmys, a Peabody, a Columbia DuPont, and the prestigious Edward R. Murrow award for Journalistic Excellence, the first and only time it was given to a children’s program.

Nickelodeon states that “Nick News was noted for  its ability to  show kids respect, and for  the direct way it explained world events,—including 9/11, U.S. wars from the first Gulf War through The Iraqi Invasion, presidential politics, HIV-AIDS and Hurricane Katrina—and for always giving kids a voice and a safe place to question their world.”

Nickelodeon, now in its 41st year, is reportedly the number-one entertainment brand for kids. It has built a diverse, global business by putting kids first in everything it does. The brand includes television programming and production in the United States and around the world, plus consumer products, digital, location based experiences, publishing and feature films.  Nickelodeon and all related titles, characters and logos are trademarks of ViacomCBS Inc. (Nasdaq: VIACA, VIAC).

(c) 2020, Hollywood Sentinel.