- - Thursday, July 19, 2012

Toys R Us has begun selling a new line of toys and merchandise based on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the pizza-loving amphibian superheroes who return Sept. 29 in a new CGI series on Nickelodeon.

This is the third series based on the characters, who started in comic books and then exploded in the late 1980s and early 1990s in cartoons, books and licensed merchandise. The first animated series based on the four crime-fighting characters, named after Renaissance artists, ran from 1987 to 1996.

The turtles returned in a live-action series in 1997 and 1998 but failed to regain their popularity.

Playmates Toys, the exclusive licensee for the new line, has created new action figures, vehicles, role-play items and play sets. Some hit shelves at Toys R Us this week while others will come in August (and all can be pre-ordered online).

Toys R Us promises bigger and better action figures this time. Among the new stock are exclusive special-edition versions of each turtle for $24.99. At 11 inches, they tower over the basic 4-inch ones and are individually sculpted for collectors’ tastes while their shells open for weapon storage.

Fans with even bigger budgets may go for the Secret Sewer Lair Playset at $119.99 — the priciest in the collection. It is 42 inches high, douses intruders with ooze, has a computer lab for Donatello, and an elevator to take figures between floors, among other Ninja features. The cheapest item in the line is the basic action figure priced at $8.99.

In 2009, Viacom’s Nickelodeon made a deal to license the property once again, which has led to the new CGI series of 26 episodes. Sister company Paramount Pictures is also working on a movie based on the characters, which won’t appear until at least 2014.

The premiere episode of the new CGI version will show the four reptile brothers — Leonardo (voiced by “American Pie’s” Jason Biggs), Raphael (Sean Astin of “Lord of the Rings”), Michelangelo (Greg Cipes of “Teen Titans Go!”), and Donatello (“Planet Sheen’s” Rob Paulsen) — surfacing from their hidden lair in the New York sewers for the first time.

Cee Lo Green postpones Vegas show for ‘The Voice’

Singer-songwriter Cee Lo Green said he’s postponing the opening of his semipermanent Las Vegas show because of his filming schedule for NBC’s “The Voice.”

The “Cee Lo Green Presents Loberace” show was set to launch Aug. 29 at the Planet Hollywood resort, but it’s now scheduled to start Feb. 27. Ticket buyers are eligible for refunds.

Mr. Green apologized for the postponement in a statement but said he has to keep commitments to the third season of the talent show.

The performer is most recently known for the Grammy-winning 2010 single “Forget You.” He said the 28-show Las Vegas run will feature showgirls, pyrotechnics and other over-the-top touches.

YouTube launches channel dedicated to Ramadan

YouTube has launched a dedicated channel for TV programming aimed at Middle East viewers during the period of Ramadan. The channel, youtube.com/ramadan, will screen more than 50 Ramadan series the same day they air on networks across the Middle East.

Ramadan, which this year runs through Aug. 18, is the equivalent of sweeps weeks for Middle East broadcasters. Channels across the region program new series that air for the entire holy month, targeting audiences who traditionally stay home and watch with their extended families. Ratings during Ramadan are higher than at any other period throughout the year. The satellitte TV business earns a major chunk of its revenue — often up to a quarter of annual sales — during the single 30-day period.

YouTube’s Ramadan channel will feature hundreds of episodes of Ramadan shows provided by YouTube’s broadcast partners in the region, including Rotana, CBS-Egypt, Melody and Promomedia. Distribution will be restricted to the site itself, though YouTube will allow users to share shows and comment on them online.

YouTube will split online revenue generated by the site with its network partners. Foods giant Unilever will be the main sponsor of the Ramadan channel, which looks to target fans across the Middle East and further abroad.

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