Fox’s Next Late Night Foray into Late Night: Animation

axe_copNext time you come across something on TV that seems like it was written by a child, it may well have been.
“Axe Cop,” one of the 11 minute components of the upcoming late night animation block coming this summer on Fox, is a series created by Malachai Nicolle when he was 5 that was illustrated by his 29 year old brother, Ethan.
Now 8, Malachai comes up with the ideas (Axe Cop lives on birthday cake, gets two minutes of sleep a night and pals around with someone named Flute Cop). Then big brother Ethan  illustrates the vision.
And what started as an online strip later became a graphic novel and now part of the just announced late night Animation Domination High-Def block starting Saturdays July 27 on Fox.
The imaginative child is still a consultant, says Nick Weidenfeld, head of Animation Domination High-Def.
“Whenever we get to a certain place where we don’t know what to do, we call the 8-year-old and ask how he would end it,” Weidenfeld says.
“Axe Cop” has a six week order so far, as does “High School USA!” created by Dino Stamatopoulos of “Community,” and an untitled project from identical twin comedians Kenny and Keith Lucas.
A preview reel shown at the TV Critics Association summer press tour Tuesday got some positive reaction for its visually striking bits featuring, among other thing a middle aged Charlie Brown in an opening for Louis C.K.’s “Louis” and some politically charged material.
What looks like an Adult Swim style of programming is actually poised to compete with the other late night Saturday behemoth, “Saturday Night Live,” which in the summer at least will be amid its summer reruns.
The animation block will begin its Saturday night runs at 11 p.m. with a “cold open” that could be a commentary on topical events, Weidenfeld said. And amid the 11-minute new animation in the 90 minutes, there will at least initially, be space for some of the popular Sunday night Fox fare, from “Family Guy” to “The Simpsons.”
The block is named Animation Domination High-Def not so much for its sharp visuals, but to  capitalize on the Sunday night “animation domination.” And combined with High-Def, its acronym is the sufficiently edgy ADHD.
“TV is not the only outlet,” Weidenfeld said. “People will be watching in lots of ways, onair or online.”
The division, which also uses producer Hend Baghdady of “Community,” “The Andy Milonakis Show” and “Crank Yankers,” is charged with coming up with 50 original animation pieces a year to run on-air, on demand and online.
But its late night Saturday night presence will help solve a longstanding problem for Fox.
For 14 seasons from 1995 to 2009, it countered “SNL” with “MadTV.”
There was also some talk and comedy on the network Saturdays, hosted by Spike Feresten from 2006 to 2009 and Wanda Sykes from 2009 to 2010.
Fox hasn’t tried a week night late night talk shows since the epic failure of Chevy Chase, who lasted just five weeks in 1993, although the syndicated “Arsenio Hall” ran on many of its stations from 1989 to 1994.
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