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Saban Aims to Put Julius on Cartoon A-List

Today is monkee day at Saban Brands. Per Meg Jamesfun piece in the LA Times, the company that made mega-millions with Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers is now banking on the crown jewel of its 2010 OC acquisition, Paul Frank Industries.

Along with a 2012 cartoon Christmas TV special being officially announced today, Saban plans to have 1990s fashion icon character Julius the Monkey power a cross-country Winnebago tour and a balloon in this fall’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. But Saban and co. are still struggling with a key aspect of the Xmas show:

The TV project has forced the question: What is the right look and voice for Julius? “If we were to come out with some slick version of Toy Story for Paul Frank, that wouldn’t feel right for the characters,” said Ryan Heuser, who in 1995 co-founded the company with Paul Frank Sunich in Heuser’s Huntington Beach garage. ..

“There needs to be a thread of consistency,” said Heuser, the only founder still with the company and who manages the small Paul Frank creative team — four artists and a creative director — from its warehouse space in Costa Mesa.

Saban president Eli Dekel tells James that Julius is just the tip of the jungle tree, part of a Frank catalog of more than 100 characters, many of which he feels can be mined separately for future Hollywood gold.

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