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Lancit Media's Planned TV Series

Chiyoko Furuya
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Post by J2xp. Sun Aug 29, 2021 7:57 pm

Extremely late to the party I know, but I got something exciting to share.
I guess it's never occurred to anyone to simply contact people who would've been involved with this project and ask about what happened to it. So that's what I did last night. I shot an email straight to the president of Lancit Media, Cecily Lancit herself, with a link to the press release, and basically asked her if this was ever actually a thing, and if so, why presumably production didn't get very far.

And to my pleasant surprise, she actually responded pretty quickly, and knew exactly what I was talking about. She remembered working with Humongous, and said she still owns an animation cel of Pajama Sam riding Otto (which may or not be the same animation cel that sold on humongous.com in limited quantiles? Her description was close enough that I have a hunch that's what it might be).

She gave a pretty definitive answer as to the fate of this deal. As you can probably guess, it's true that production didn't get far, but the real reason why was pretty interesting.

I'll quote her exactly so I don't misrepresent what she said:
To the best of my recollection our development efforts on behalf of the project didn’t get very far at PBS or any of the commercial outlets.  A significant reason for this is the “fin-sin” deregulation, passed in the mid 90’s.  This legislation allowed tv distribution outlets to produce and own their own programming, something they were prohibited from doing under the “fin-syn” media anti-monopoly laws.

This dried up development money and licensing fees for independent producers, who depended on “fin-sin” monopoly rule to protect their ability to invest in and own the programs they created.
When licensing fees for independently produced content plunged radically (networks could now produce everything in-house and own it) the vast majority of independently produced content died on the vine.  Very few smaller production companies companies survived in the ensuing years.

Such was the fate of the Humongous initiative, and other projects in development with Lancit.  But animated projects really suffered, as they were among the first kinds of programming to bite the dust — at least those originating smaller production entities.  Larger production companies with established lines of revenue (Children’s Television Workshop and Scholastic for example) were able to weather the withdrawal of fulsome license fees and ownership percentages of residual merchandising.  

So if I'm interpreting this correctly, basically it just seems that the changing tides of television regulation and economics made producing a licensed programming (animation in particular she noted bit the dust first) financially unviable, and possibly impossible under new regulations.

To be honest, this is a topic that's a bit over my head, so you can read more about Financial Interest and Syndication Rules (fin-syn)in these articles:

Ultimately, this puts to rest any rumors that fully produced episodes of a Humongous animated series was ever completed and aired, and proves definitively that production didn't get very far unfortunately. She didn't mention any production material. But on the bright side, it also proves that the press release and the plans were in fact real at some point. She implies that PBS would've likely been the network that these would've aired on.

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