As I began my meetings earlier this week at the 45th Annual NATPE (National Association of Television Programming Executives) Conference in chilly Las Vegas, the excitement of all the new shows being pitched here to US and foreign distribution outlets grew as the day wore on.

The show officially opens this morning but yesterday provided a good opportunity to meet with people as they were setting up and settling in for the show. Monday also featured a full day of discussion on mobile entertainment, examining everything from who the players are to how to attract users to our property to how you can capitalize on the $5 million mobile market that is reaching a supposed 11.8 million subscribers in the U.S. alone. More on that later.

I visited with our friends at Allumination Filmworks who will be bringing three of our favorite TV shows into the DVD market this year - "Franny's Feet," "The Saddle Club" and "Hip Hop Harry." They'll also be introducing a new show to both TV and DVD, "Piper Penguin and His Fantastic Flying Machines." We haven't seen that one yet but will be reviewing it soon. If its as cute as is sounds, we'll all enjoy it.

One of the emerging new companies, Cilantro Animation talked with me about a new show they are pitching to the Latino audience. "Usuy" is the tale of an Inca boy from Peru who tries to help his family fit into contemporary U.S. culture. His stories blend a bit of geographical and historical elements into them as they are shown in 2D animation. Good luck at the show Cilantro. We hope to see your show on-air soon, and in our film festivals.

Cookie Jar Entertainment, from Toronto, has a lot of new programs in the pot. The company that has brought you such award-winning shows as "Caillou," "Arthur" and "Doodlebops" - all of which KIDS FIRST! has endorsed and shown in our Festivals - has quite a line-up, including: "Hurray for Huckle!" based on Richard Scarry's books and one of every preschooler's favorite towns, Busytown. Each episode is based around the characters from the books and explores an answer to a mini-mystery. "Noonbory" is a co-production with a Korean company and another preschool property. Set in the enchanting, technicolorful world of Boryland, the energetic Borys are young people who possess very special and powerful skills. Essentially, they are super sense superheroes who use their heightened senses to playfully save the day. It sounds a bit wacky but fun. "Will and Dewitt" is playing now on Kids WB for an older audience of four- to eight-year-olds. Dewitt is Will's shape-shifting frog-type friend who helps Will do the things he does - even when he thinks he can't. "Magi-Nation" sounds like a cross between "Lord of the Rings" and "Ferngully." Now playing on Kids WB in the U.S. and CBC in Canada, it's the story of a young teen, Tony Jones who finds himself mysteriously transported to the magical world of Magi-Nation. He befriends two young Magi Heroes-in-training who join him on a journey to defeat the evil Shadow Magi who are out to rule their world. During their adventures they discover some secrets about themselves as well. Next, "Johnny Test" now playing on the Cartoon Network in the U.S. and Teletoon in Canada is an action comedy for eight- to twelve-year-olds. The story chronicles the adventures of a fearless 11-year-old boy, his genetically engineered super dog Cukey and his 13-year-old super genius scientist twin sisters, Susan and Mary who use Johnny as their guinea pig for their out-of-this world scientific experiments. Last, "World of Quest" is a comedic action series for ages eight to 12 that follows young Prince Nestor on a mission to save his parents with his amazing muscled protector Quest by his side. It will air on WB starting in March and Teletoon in Canada. I promise that we'll tell you more about these shows once we've had the opportunity to fully review them.

Last, from Viz Media, is the cute preschool show "Deko Boko & Friends." It's a different kind of format, only 30 seconds in length and it's focus is about diversity and tolerance. Trailers of the show can be found at and

Most of these shows will be coming into KIDS FIRST! for further evaluation and for play at our KIDS FIRST! Film Festivals. Stay tooned for more info!

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Author's Bio: 

The invasive impact of violent and biased media on children became the impetus, in 1991, for Levy to create the Coalition for Quality Children's Media, dedicated to promoting and nurturing quality children's media as a vehicle for social change. A former educator, Levy developed the following programs for the Coalition: a media-based violence prevention program for at-risk youth, the Junior Film Critics program, the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival and incubated Meg's Gifts - a hospital donation program. Levy co-authored two books, the New York Times/KIDS FIRST Guide to The Best Children's Videos and the A Parent's Guide to the Best Children's Videos, DVDs, and CD-ROMs and is a frequent speaker at conferences, such as Vice President Gore's Family Re-Union, the Video Software Dealers Association Convention, the National Governor's Association Conference on Quality in Education, the Head Start Research Conference, and the National Association of Family and Community Educators. Currently, she writes for KIDS FIRST! News, Grand Magazine, TiVo's KidZone, Smart Television Alliance, and Moving Pictures Magazine. She is the mother of two grown children and two wonderful grandchildren.