- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 21, 2005

‘Toons for tiny eyes

The Cartoon Network is plenty popular with school-age children. Now they’re coming for the babies.

Beginning today, the Atlanta-based network begins a two-hour morning block of cartoons for preschoolers, even children under a year old, according to Associated Press.

Other children’s networks already make programs for children that young, and the Cartoon Network’s new “Tickle U.” block is aimed at improving the network’s ratings on weekday mornings, when it falls behind rivals like Nickelodeon and Disney Channel. The Cartoon Network had been relying on classic cartoons like “Tom & Jerry” for the hours when older children are in school.

“Up until now, the focus has been, ‘What can we put on the air that mom or baby sitter remember fondly from their childhoods?’,” says Alice Cahn, the Cartoon Network’s vice president for programming and development. “I think there was recognition that there was an opportunity to do more.”

Miss Cahn and other network executives also recognized that despite repeated warnings from child development experts, most parents allow babies and toddlers to watch TV. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under 2 watch no television at all, but Miss Cahn called that impractical. Television can be OK in small doses, she says.

“Children begin watching television — and I think this is a conservative estimate — as young as 12 months,” says Miss Cahn, who worked on PBS’ “Sesame Street” before coming to the Cartoon Network.

To tailor the cartoon block to make it more appropriate for young kids, the “Tickle U.” block contains no shows longer than 11 minutes (most are closer to five minutes long). Commercials are shown only on the half-hours, not between every cartoon. And to encourage parents to watch along with their children, the cartoons have what programmers call a “Mommy Bar” on the bottom of the screen with parenting tips and G-rated jokes for grown-ups.

Chappelle resurfaces

After bailing on his $50 million contract with Comedy Central for his top-rated show, D.C. comic Dave Chappelle is apparently returning to his stand-up roots, according to published reports.

The Duke Ellington High School grad is scheduled to perform at the Pittsburgh Improv Sept. 15 to 17, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. Debbie Keller, the Pittsburgh Improv’s publicist, confirmed the dates but stressed that they are subject to change. Tickets range from $40 to $45 and will go on sale Sept. 8.

The funnyman also will perform Sept. 30 at the Eastern Michigan University Convocation Center in Ypsilanti, Mich., reports the Detroit Free Press. Tickets — priced at $42.50 and $32.50 will go on sale Friday.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports.

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