Hey y'all… I'm blogging. Look at me go. We figured it would be easier for me to update you frequently this way, so we've switched to a blogging format for philvischer.com. Hope you don't mind.
The reason for the switch is that, frankly, there's a lot to talk about. VeggieTales is coming to NBC this Fall, and me and the jellies are rowing the boat. "What?" you say, "How could this be?" Let me explain. None of the major networks want to be in the kids business anymore. There just isn't any money in it, since Nickelodeon, The Disney Channel and Cartoon Network pretty much took over the world. But the FCC requires every TV station to air 3 hours per week of educational kids programming. So to fulfill that requirement, the networks have been more or less selling their Saturday morning blocks to production partners who can supply the programming. For the last few years, Discovery Kids has supplied NBC's Saturday morning block. No more. A few weeks ago it was announced that three kids producers – Classic Media (VeggieTales, Lassie), Scholastic (Clifford, all those book fairs) and Corus (Babar, Franklin) were forming a joint venture to supply kids programming to NBC, Telemundo (owned by NBC), and Ion (formerly Pax, partly owned by NBC). It's all very complicated. Much too complicated for mortals like ourselves to understand.
The bottom line is, Classic Media is contributing VeggieTales to the block, so VeggieTales will be on NBC this Fall! The trick is, the schedule left very little time to take the VeggieTales library and somehow come up with 13 half-hour episodes for television. So Classic and Big Idea asked me to do that part, and I enlisted my Jellyfish buddies to help (as well as some old Big Idea Productions friends). Together, we've had a whole lot of fun creating a new hosting concept for the shows, including a new TV theme song and some wacky running jokes and gags. Instead of the kitchen counter top, we now go over to Bob's house. Larry joins in, and several of Bob's 'neighbors' (including Mr. Lunt, Archibald and Pa Grape), show up uninvited to bask in the glow of real TV exposure. Everyone knows they're on TV, so they're all doing their best to get the attention of… well, whomever. Simon Cowell, I think. Of course, as is always the case, results are mixed, but rather silly.
"So, Phil, will they actually let you talk about God on NBC?" Oh, good question. I figured you'd get to that at some point. The answer is… yes and no. At first we were told everything was 'okay' except the Bible verse at the end. Frankly, that news really surprised me, because, heck, we're talking about NBC here. God on Saturday morning? It didn't seem likely. Since we've started actually producing the episodes, though, NBC has gotten a little more restrictive. (I think they actually sat down and started watching a few VeggieTales videos. "Hey wait – these are religious.") So it's gotten trickier, and we're having to do a little more editing. More than I'm comfortable with? Frankly, yes. But I had already committed to helping Big Idea with this, and I really didn't want to leave them in a tight spot. Plus, the new stuff we're coming up with is really fun, and at least some new kids will meet Bob and Larry on NBC, and maybe wander into Wal-Mart and buy a video with all the God still in. So it could be better, but overall it's not a total loss. The new stuff is really cute. You'll like it.
Plus, we've got a bunch of old Big Idea Productions friends working freelance on the new material, including Robert Ellis (Big Idea hire #2, for you historians in the crowd). All these guys were laid off when Big Idea fell apart, and it's great to see some veggie money going their way again. They're having fun, too.
So on September 9th at 10am EST, check out VeggieTales on NBC. You'll get to visit Bob's house, hear Jimmy Gourd sing a really annoying song, and see Archibald tell a very weird story. (Unless NBC pulls the plug before then, of course. Then you might be watching Lassie.) An hour later you can watch a 3-2-1 Penguins or Cartoon Adventures of Larryboy episode. All on NBC! Can you believe it? What a world we live in!
Can't wait to hear your reactions… feel free to post a comment below.