Thursday, January 16, 2020

Nickelodeon USA to Premiere 'It's Pony' on Saturday, Jan. 18

Update (1/16/2020) - Nickelodeon will premiere It’s Pony on Saturday, Jan. 18 at 11:30 a.m. (ET/PT)!

Update (12/29) - Watch the first episode of It's Pony, "Plants!", here!:

Update - Below is Nickelodeon's official Press Release announcing the exciting news!:

Nickelodeon Debuts Brand-New Animated Series, It’s Pony, Saturday, Jan. 18
Rosario Dawson, Kal Penn and Bobby Moynihan Give Voices to the
Comedic Adventures of Unlikely but Loyal Best Friends

Share it: @nickelodeon

December 09, 2019 02:00 PM Eastern Standard Time

LONDON--Life is more exciting, fun, and unpredictable with a pony, as seen in Nickelodeon’s new original animated series It’s Pony, premiering Saturday, Jan. 18. The 20-episode series follows the comedic adventures of Annie and her best friend, who just so happens to be an enthusiastic, unpredictable, and carefree pony. Following its premiere, It’s Pony will continue to air Saturdays on Nickelodeon and will air internationally in April 2020.

The series stars Jessica DiCicco (Adventure Time) as Annie, an optimistic and determined farm girl living in the city with her family and best friend Pony; Josh Zuckerman (Strange Angel) as Pony, who is naïve and impulsive, but loves Annie more than anything; Abe Benrubi (E.R.) as Dad, who treats Pony as a nuisance, but recognizes the special bond he shares with Annie; and India de Beaufort (All Hail King Julien) as Mom, who loves Annie and Pony’s relationship and always has a new project in the works.

Additional cast members bringing characters to life include: Kal Penn (Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle) as Annie’s friend Fred; Bobby Moynihan (Saturday Night Live) as Annie’s friend Brian; Rosario Dawson (Rent) as Annie’s school principal Ms. Ramiro; Mark Feuerstein (Royal Pains) as the landlord Mr. Pancks; and Megan Hilty (Smash) as the too-obsessed-with-Pony friend Beatrice.

Throughout the season, the series will explore the everyday life and hijinks of two best friends whose optimism and enthusiasm turn any situation from ordinary to extraordinary. Whether making an epic quest down the street to mail a letter, heroically saving the local playground with a bake sale, or simply getting a haircut, Pony and Annie always stick together because life is better as a pair.

Created by Ant Blades, It’s Pony is inspired by a short from Nickelodeon’s 2015 International Animated Shorts Program. A pre-released episode will be available starting Wednesday, Dec. 25 on the Nick App, Nick On Demand, and YouTube.

About Nickelodeon

Nickelodeon, now in its 40th year, is the number-one entertainment brand for kids. It has built a diverse, global business by putting kids first in everything it does. The brand includes television programming and production in the United States and around the world, plus consumer products, digital, location based experiences, publishing and feature films. For more information or artwork, visit Nickelodeon and all related titles, characters and logos are trademarks of ViacomCBS Inc. (Nasdaq: VIACA, VIAC).


Joining the main cast are:

- Yvette Nicole Brown (Drake & Josh, Victorious) as the voice of Mrs. Dunscomb

- Grey Griffin (Fairly OddParents, Danny Phantom, The Loud House, El Tigre, Wow Wow Wubbzy, As Told by Ginger, Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Mighty B!, Rugrats, The Simpsons) as the voice of Henrietta

- John DiMaggio (Sanjay and Craig, The Loud House, Futurama, Adventure Time) as the voice of Dave the Sewer Worker and Tomatopalooza Judge

- Dee Bradley Baker (SpongeBob SquarePants, Legends of the Hidden Temple, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Gravity Falls, Star Wars: The Clone Wars) as the voice of Dog.

Original post:

Nickelodeon USA will premiere the network's brand new animated series It's Pony on Saturday, Jan. 18! A pre-released episode will be available starting Wednesday, Dec. 25 on the Nick App, Nick On Demand, and YouTube.

It's Pony is an original 2D-animated buddy comedy that follows the life of an average girl, Annie, her (almost) average family and what happens when an excitable, unpredictable, loveable and talking pony comes to live with them in their city apartment. It's Pony is the first animated comedy series to be greenlit for the U.S. from Nickelodeon International. Created by Ant Blades, It's Pony (originally titled Pony) is based off a short of the same name from Nickelodeon’s 2015 International Animated Shorts Program. Nickelodeon greenlit the series for an initial 20-episodes in March 2018.

It's Pony follows Annie’s everyday life as a 9-year-old, from working at her parent’s city farm, located on their apartment balcony, homework, school friends and, most importantly, her friendship with Pony. Pony is Annie’s biggest cheerleader and best friend, although sometimes his optimism and enthusiasm lands the pair in unusual situations.

Ant Blades started his creative career writing and drawing for the cartoon strip Bewley. After his short stint as an animator, Blades worked for years in the digital creative industry before moving back to the animation field and setting up Birdbox, a studio that produces commercials, on-air spots and funny short films.

Nickelodeon’s International Animated Shorts Program is now a monthly themed outreach effort for original and funny content to fuel its dynamic development slate. Concepts for the program are received in all animation styles from 2D, digital 2D, stop motion, CG and mixed media. Finalists are provided with the necessary artistic and production support to help them complete their fully animated original, humor-based and character-driven short.

It's Pony is produced in London, UK by Blue Zoo, which has produced on-air presentation for Nick Jr. UK & Ireland, as well as series such as Nick Jr.'s Digby Dragon and Olive the Ostrich, and shows such as Miffy’s Adventures Big and Small and Q Pootle 5.

From Animation Magazine:

A Horse, Of Course! Ant Blades Talks His New Nick Show ‘It’s Pony’

***This article originally ran in the February ‘20 issue of Animation Magazine (No. 297)***

Who doesn’t want a fun, impulsive and always adventurous pony in their life? Annie (voiced by Jessica DiCicco), the bright-eyed girl in the center of Nickelodeon’s new animated series It’s Pony, certainly knows that her life is so much better with her best friend, Pony (Josh Zuckerman) — but it also makes it more complicated because they live in a city! The new show also features the voices of Abe Benrubi, India de Beaufort, Kal Penn, Bobby Moynihan, Rosario Dawson, Mark Feuerstein and Megan Hilty.

It’s Pony was created by animation veteran Ant Blades of London-based Birdbox Studio. “I was trying to think of a good idea for a series and wanted it to be relatable and simple,” he tells us. “I was looking for an idea that had scope for a lot of craziness, but also room for heart and charm. A girl trying to look after her pony in the city sprang to mind. Especially if it wasn’t that easy. How would you cope with a horse in an elevator?”

Blades came up with the first sketches for the pilot back in 2013 for Nickelodeon International Animated Shorts call out. “That seems like a long time ago now,” he notes. “It hasn’t been solid since then, though. Step by step to where it is now.

The 2D animated series is produced in London at Blue Zoo studio, home of Paddington, Numberblocks and Digby Dragon. A team of about 70 people work on the series, and the animators use Toon Boom Harmony to produce it. “The aim was to create a visually unique style to try and make it feel more hand drawn, to steer away from some more common styles and push towards something that felt more tactile and rough,” notes Blades. “Pony himself benefits from line work that’s more untidy and energetic.”

It’s Complicated!

The creator says he loves Pony, but he thinks the show is the most relatable when we, as viewers, are put into Annie’s shoes. “Pony’s a horse… of course, it’s not easy. I love them most, not when they’re acting like ‘best buds forever’, but when she’s pushing his nose out of her cereal.”

Before diving into the world of Annie and Pony, Blades had been directing ads, idents and shorts at Birdbox for the past nine years. “The work was varied and allowed me to jump from project to project, which keeps things interesting for me,” he says. “I’ve always enjoyed making shorts and, if possible, making people laugh. One of the biggest challenges for me is transforming from a short-form guy into a longer-form guy, and adapting to the schedules and teams that come along with that.”

Blades actually started off studying civil engineering, because he didn’t realize that animation could be a career. “I’d always loved comic strips and cartoons, but thought I should get a ‘proper’ job. While studying though, I managed to get a cartoon strip in a national paper and that gave the confidence that I should try cartooning and animation professionally. I watched a lot of TV cartoons, but what really inspired me was the world of comic strips. Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes was huge for me. I remember reading a friend’s collection and being totally lost in the world. And it’s such a lovely world.”

He says he also watched every animated movie he could find. “The first one that really got me was Pixar’s Monsters, Inc., which is still my favorite, and has a huge heart just like Calvin and Hobbes. So maybe that’s what gets me.”

Now that he has seen his clever idea come to animated life after so many years of work and development, we had to ask him to dispense some valuable advice, right? And of course, he obliges. “There are so many platforms out there to be noticed now,” says Blades. “If you love making things move, then try and regularly put stuff out there. Offering advice is hard! Work hard? Try and keep the passion? Step away at times, so you remember what you love about animation in the first place!”

It’s Pony premieres on Nickelodeon in the U.S. on Saturday, January 18. The show will bow internationally in April.


From Kidscreen:

Why Nick is ponying up a new series

For its first animated production made outside of the US for global audiences, Nickelodeon turned to a more grounded series, says Nick's Nina Hahn.

Saddle up: Kids ongoing love of ponies, and a desire to tell more realistic stories convinced Nickelodeon to board the soon-to-premiere It’s Pony.

Launching on Nick globally on January 18, the 2D-animated comedy show tracks the adventures of Annie and her talking pony. Nick released the first episode of the 20 x 22 minute show on YouTube on December 26, and it has racked up more than 600,000 views.

Talking horse aside, series creator Ant Blades wanted to make a show that rejected the over-the-top fantasy of shows like Adventure Time in favor of something that could speak more directly to kids, he said. And this resonated with Nick, according to Nina Hahn, Nickelodeon’s SVP of international production and development. Kids watch Nickelodeon to think, laugh and feel, and It’s Pony meets those demands by focusing on issues important to the network’s core audience.

“We want our stories to start from a place that’s authentic and real, and we got that with the characters’ relationships,” says Hahn. “We want to reflect kids’ worlds visually, while also talking about friendship risk, parents, family, growing up and all the things that are core to our audience.”

Designed and animated by London studio Blue Zoo, the series was originally submitted as a short in Nickelodeon’s 2015 International Animated Shorts Program and then picked up in 2018 as a full show called Pony. It’s Pony marks the first time Nickelodeon has picked up an animated production made outside of the US for international broadcast, says Hahn. The comedy series’ grounded setting gave it international potential, Hahn.

“This show’s focus on friendship speaks to our global audience,” says Hahn. “When we were preparing this show for international viewers we only had to make small changes, like the color of a school bus, to be sure the setting would be relevant for kids everywhere.”

The show’s reach is also helped by the fact that one of the leads is a pony, and ponies are having a moment with a stable full of content. This includes Little Airplane Productions and redknot’s 52 x 11-minute series The Dog & Pony Show; Netflix’s upcoming feature film Thelma the Unicorn (about a pony who becomes a unicorn); and of course, Hasbro’s long-running My Little Pony franchise, which is launching the new My Little Pony: Pony Life series in 2020 on Discovery Family and Discovery Family GO.

“From the outset, It’s Pony had a long-term vision for a story that was real, and focused on a single relationship,” says Hahn. “A show might be funny, but every piece of content we look at has to have a story, character and creator attached to it that can make it into 20 episodes if we’re to pick it up, and this project had that.”


More Nick: 2020 on Nickelodeon USA | New Shows, Specials, Events, Movies, Episodes, and More!

Originally published: Sunday, December 08, 2019 at 18:21 GMT.

Press release via Business Wire; H/T: Special thanks to @Loudfan123212!; Additional source: Anime Superhero /@SweetShop209.
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