Building on its more than 20 years of animation domination, Fox Broadcasting Company has created a new unit to oversee the development and production of alternative animated series, shorts and user-adapted material for a brand new late-night animated programming block and new digital multi-platform network, FOX president of entertainment Kevin Reilly announced Sunday.
To run this new unit, FOX has inked an exclusive deal with Nick Weidenfeld, former head of program development for Adult Swim and executive producer of acclaimed series Children’s Hospital and The Boondocks. The network has also tapped producer Hend Baghdady (Warren The Ape, The Andy Milonakis Show) as the executive in charge of production for the new division.
Under their leadership, the unit will develop and produce an ambitious slate of original animated shorts and series to run both on-air and online. The late-night programming block will air Saturdays (11 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. ET/PT) on FOX and will feature four new animated series per season, starting in January 2013.
The digital channel will extend across platforms such as Web, mobile apps, game consoles and Video on Demand. It kicks off this year and will feature 50 original short-form pieces per year, online windows of FOX animated shows, and user-adapted content.
It will create a unique opportunity for fans and up-and-coming talent to engage with professional FOX-curated content, which they could possibly platform into their own series. FOX will also use its expertise and cross-promotional power to nurture these new assets through this pipeline.
“This may be the first time a network is building a clear bridge for talent to develop and grow ideas in the digital/alternative arena and organically move them into the mainstream,” said Reilly. “These new late-night series will be assets in their own right — but the clear possibility exists for a breakout digital success to graduate to primetime.
“Nick had an incredible track record at Adult Swim and is a dynamic guy with the instincts to cultivate and produce inventive and irreverent series that animation fans love. Together with Hend, they are the perfect partners for us in this exciting new venture,” Reilly continued.
Prior to teaming with FOX under his Friends Night production company banner, Weidenfeld served as the head of program development for Adult Swim. Over the last eight years, Weidenfeld helped grow the late-night block of programming on Cartoon Network — featuring breakout hits such as Robot Chicken and Aqua Teen Hunger Force — into the No. 1 cable entertainment channel among young men. He executive-produced a variety of animated and live-action shows, including the Peabody Award-winning The Boondocks, Children’s Hospital, NTSF:SD:SUV::, Metalocalypse, Superjail! and China, IL.
In 2009, Weidenfeld co-created and co-wrote the animated hour-long cartoon Freaknik: The Musical, starring Grammy Award-winning singer T-Pain as well as Cee Lo, Lil Wayne, Andy Samberg and Bill Hader. The musical is currently being adapted for the stage. Most recently, he adapted the feature film Black Dynamite into an animated series and built a sketch show around the rap group and Internet sensation Odd Future.
Baghdady began her career in New York working on the first season of Crank Yankers with Jackhole Industries. Since then, she has developed, produced and created production formats and templates for live-action and animated comedy series for MTV, Comedy Central and Adult Swim. Her most recent credits include the Community stop-motion Christmas special “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas”; the first strip animated show, DJ & The Fro; The Andy Milonakis Show; Warren The Ape; and Kanye West’s pilot Alligator Boots.