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September 30, 2009

NBC orders 'Madagascar,' 'Monsters' specials


The penguins are coming to primetime.

NBC has ordered two new CG-animated holiday specials based on theatrical films -- "Monsters vs. Aliens: Mutant Pumpkins from Outer Space" and "Merry Madagascar."

The network is partnering with DreamWorks animation, which has recently provided Nickelodeon a hit series based off the "Madagascar" films ("The Penguins of Madagascar") and has another series based on "Kung Fu Panda" in the pipeline for next year.

NBC will air its "Monsters" half-hour special on Oct. 28, with voices by Reese Witherspoon, Seth Rogen, Hugh Laurie, Will Arnett, Kiefer Sutherland and Rainn Wilson. "Merry Madagascar" will air Nov. 17, with voices by Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith, Cedric The Entertainer, Carl Reiner and Andy Richter.

Animated holiday specials can bring in strong ratings year after year, with decades-old classics like "Charlie Brown Christmas" often topping current original programming. But creating new holiday hits is tricky. ABC scored large ratings in recent years with "Shrek the Halls," which uses the same model NBC is employing here -- taking a popular CG-animated film and developing a spin-off special.

"This is a major coup for NBC to join together with the esteemed artists at DreamWorks Animation as we bring to life new holiday stories based on these popular and lovable characters," said NBC entertainment programming president Angela Bromstad. "We are intent on providing original, family-friendly programs that reflect the quality that big-screen audiences have come to expect from these franchises."


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