LOS ANGELES and NEW YORK, Jan. 24 /PRNewswire/ -- Shawn, Marlon and Keenen Ivory Wayans today announced plans to launch their very first children's lifestyle property Thugaboo. Based on original source material created by the Wayans Bros., the masterminds behind "In Living Color," "Scary Movie 1&2," and most recently, "White Chicks," Thugaboo is a broad, character-based property that takes a humorous look at the trials and tribulations of nine very different kids growing up in the inner city. Through a series of misadventures these kids learn valuable lessons: everything from the importance of friendship to never giving up on one's dreams. Drawing from their own childhood, the Wayans promise to deliver a very special treat to kids of every demographic and ethnicity. "We identify with youth culture and strive to tap into their funny bone by creating characters they can relate to while entertaining their parents at the same time," said Marlon Wayans. When asked about their source of inspiration Shawn Wayans answered, "We were inspired by some of our favorite cartoons as kids, like 'Charlie Brown' and 'Fat Albert', and wanted to bring something special to a new generation." The Wayans will support the property by producing, writing and lending their voices to a direct-to-video series that is already underway. In addition, they have signed on Playmates for master toy, The Betesh Group for softlines, and Scholastic for publishing. Product will follow the launch of the video series, targeted for Holiday 2005. "We are excited to be part of the Thugaboo team. The unique characters and their humorous adventures give Thugaboo a rare combination of kid appeal and parent approval. The Wayans have created a property that has the potential to grow into a strong multi-year franchise," stated Jill Will, Playmates' senior vice president of marketing. Thugaboo's simultaneous appeal to both children and parents is one if its particular strengths. "As a parent, I think it's important for kids to have a source of entertainment that deals with life in positive and comedic ways. It's our goal to create toys, books and videos that kids will love and parents can feel good about buying," remarked Keenen Ivory Wayans. Licensees have found this aspect of the property refreshing. "Inspiring kids of all ethnicities and backgrounds has always been a priority for The Betesh Group. We are excited to be partnering with the Wayans and joining the Thugaboo family. This new property promises to be entertaining and valuable to both kids and their parents," said Elliot Betesh, president of The Betesh Group. In choosing between the numerous publishers that bid for the property, the Wayans ultimately chose Scholastic because they felt the company best understood its direction and sensibility. "We are delighted to bring the Wayans' unique brand of humor and humanity to the world of children's books through the incredible Thugaboo property," remarked Scholastic publisher Jean Feiwel. The Wayans are no strangers to merchandising. They recently partnered with trading card company Topps to launch "The Dozens" a new trading card game coming out Spring 2005. They also inked a deal with Bonus Mobile, to develop and publish "The Dozens" as a multi-player mobile phone game. Their company, SMK Merchandising LLC, is represented for licensing by former Universal Studios and Firm executive Shab Azma, whose newly formed Fireball Group LLC, put together the above deals and is seeking additional partners in a variety of categories. About the Wayans Bros. Coming off of the success of "White Chicks," which has grossed $110 million world-wide to date and in its first week out on video brought in $10.55 million in rentals and sold 1.6 million dvds, the Wayans are busy writing and producing two new films. For Universal they are working on a film version of the classic TV series, "The Munsters," and for Revolution/Sony will be releasing "Little Man" starring Shawn and Marlon, and directed by Keenen Ivory Wayans, with producing partner Rick Alvarez. About Playmates With over thirty-five years of experience, Playmates Toys, Inc., is among the most well respected and innovative marketing and distribution companies in the global toy industry. Playmates has a proven history in the creation of profitable, long-term brand franchises. Among the company's best-known proprietary brands are the unique water-filled "Water Babies(R)" dolls and "Speedeez(TM)" micro vehicles and playsets. Core licensed character and entertainment brands include Disney(R) Princesses and classic characters, Universal Studios'/Peter Jackson's "King Kong" and Mirage Studios' "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles." From its offices in Hong Kong, China and the United States, Playmates designs, develops, markets and distributes its products in over sixty countries worldwide. Playmates Toys, Inc., is a division of Playmates Holdings Limited, a Hong Kong-based company whose stock is traded on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. About The Betesh Group The Betesh Group, in business for almost 30 years, is a dynamic global consumer products company with 5 distinct and growing divisions: Mitzi International (Ladies Handbags and Accessories), Generation Sport (Backpacks, Sports and Travel Related Accessories), Motion Systems (Computer, Audio and Video Accessories; Stationary and Scrapbooking), Baby Boom/Interior Consumer Products (Diaper Bags; Infant and Toddler Bedding; Infant, Toddler Teen and Tween Room and Home Decor), and Toy Play (Toys and Play Tents for all ages). Headquartered in New York, The Betesh Group operates six offices in four countries with over 800 employees worldwide. About Scholastic Scholastic Corporation (Nasdaq: SCHL) is the world's largest publisher and distributor of children's books. Scholastic creates quality educational and entertaining materials and products for use in school and at home, including children's books, magazines, technology-based products, teacher materials, television programming, film, videos and toys. The Company distributes its products and services through a variety of channels, including proprietary school-based book clubs, school-based book fairs, and school-based and direct- to-home continuity programs; retail stores, schools, libraries, and television networks; and the Company's Internet Site, http://www.scholastic.com About Fireball Group Headquartered in Beverly Hills, the Fireball Group is a licensing and brand management company, representing high profile actors, music artists, and entertainment properties in all areas of licensing, merchandising, endorsements, direct response and brand management.
SOURCE Scholastic Inc.