Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Nickelodeon Pushes Diverse Programming with New Series for Hispanics, Chinese, and African American Markets

Children's Hope families may be excited to learn about the upcoming and continually diverse nature of Nickelodeon's programming as the network is set to release a Chinese-American cartoon geared towards pre-schoolers, entitled Ni Hao Kai-Lan. The main character, a 5-year-old Chinese-American girl is written to provide a role model for bicultural youngsters.

The New York Times interviewed the creator of the new cartoon, Karen Chao. Their interview revealed the background and scope of the series.

“Ni Hao, Kai-lan!,” an animated series based on her memories of growing up in a bicultural household with two overachieving brothers, a doting immigrant grandfather and a father with one foot in the Old World and one in the New. Ms. Chao and her mother, Hai-lan (Helen), were outnumbered but unbowed, honoring some gender traditions that dated to Confucian times while questioning others. “Ni hao” means “Hi” in mandarin, and Kai-lan is the Chinese name Ms. Chao was given at birth, later Anglicized to Karen...

Ms. Chao said she wanted Kai-lan “to be a Chinese-American role model, to be independent, to have a voice, to take the initiative and to not always have to follow others.” Ms. Harrington, the executive producer, said she hoped the series would have a special resonance for the estimated 60,000 girls in the United States who have been adopted from Chinese orphanages.
The series is to premiere in fall 2007 and teach viewers simple Mandarin words while giving a perspective of bicultural living.

Details of Nickelodeon's current culturally diverse line-up:

El Tigre, debuted this past March, is an animated series featuring a Mexican-American teenager who chooses between the life of a superhero or that of a villain.

Just Jordan, debuted in January 2007, is a sitcom about an African-American teenager who deals with ordinary “issues,” such as trying to figure out what girls look for in a guy.

Go, Diego, Go!, an animated series for preschool-aged children. In Go, Diego, Go!, bilingual eight-year-old Diego Márquez (cousin to Dora the Explorer) and his jaguar companion Baby Jaguar, set out to help animals in danger. Diego's 11-year-old sister Alicia also lends a hand with her computer whiz skills. Dora makes several guest appearances in the series.

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