The Kingdom of Paramithi, from The Wiggles

If only there was some way to have the great kids’ shows you already love somehow spawn other great shows your kids would love, and then you’d be able to flip on the television and reason, “Well, we already enjoy X, certainly we’ll like Y, as well!”

That’d be great, wouldn’t it?

Oh. Wait! That’s already happening! It seems that Australian sensation The Wiggles aren’t just a bunch of pretty faces with some great kids’ music. In fact, Anthony Field (you may know how better as the blue Wiggle) is developing a new show:

The Wiggles, Nine Network and Nick Jr. will combine to present a new pre-school series for Australian families this year: The Kingdom of Paramithi, a collection of musical stories for young children in 30 half-hour instalments.

The Kingdom of Paramithi is scheduled to premiere on the Nine Network in November 2008 and on Nickelodeon’s Nick Jr. network in December.

Created by Blue Wiggle Anthony Field and Paul Field, written by Paul Field and Paul Paddick and developed with the experience of The Wiggles production team, the series incorporates musical performance, dance, comedy and charismatic new characters.

Anthony Field said:”The Kingdom of Paramithi is an exciting new series full of adventure stories drawn from a rich tradition of folk tales and music. You’ll meet a king and a queen and a host of colourful characters who are passionate about putting on a show.”

Confession time: I read the show description (a king and a queen and a host of characters) and immediately thought, “Wow, they’re making a new Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood!” Hee.

Regardless, it sounds promising, and it’s nice to know that we don’t have to wait too long on this side of the pond to get in on the action. Though this part did make me giggle:

“We are really thrilled about this collaboration,” said Deirdre Brennan, Director of Programming for Nickelodeon Australia. “The Wiggles production team are incredibly experienced in knowing what children want to watch and how best to connect with them.”

Really? They know what kids watch? I mean, I never would’ve guessed that, based upon their current path of virtual world domination via the ardent obsession of every human on the planet under the age of four….

Visit the Ty’s Wiggles Store for all your Wiggly needs!

Totlol for your little video connoisseur

Color me behind the times for not noticing this sooner, but while I was catching up on blogs yesterday I happened across a post about a new site for kid-friendly video surfing. The Totlol site is “a community-moderated video website designed to be enjoyed by those between the ages of 6 months and 6 years.”

What does that mean? It means that it’s kid-safe YouTube; the videos are all, in fact, from YouTube. This is just a community providing a kid-safe filter so that you don’t end up accidentally showing Junior something you’d rather he not see. And you needn’t worry that some all-knowing parental figure is making choices for you, either—Totlol works by polling and analyzing the responses of its members.

According to their About page, here’s how the process works:

1. When scouting parents search the YouTube database via a Totlol interface.

The scouting interface lets parents search and watch videos just as they used to do on YouTube.

When they find a video that they think is appropriate and relevant they can choose to submit it.

2. When submitting parents are asked to review the title and tags associated with the video and to provide a review of the content.

They are also asked to specify the main language of the video and categorize it.

This information, together with the original YouTube information is presented at screening.

3. The screening part of the process is where the community plays the most significant role.

Each Totlol user is invited to screen videos submitted by others and to answer screening questions. The answers are collected and analyzed by computer.

Only videos that pass the grade are then available for the viewing tots.

The end result is that you never have to worry that searching on The Wiggles brings up something other than your child’s favorite Aussie foursome, and you can let your computer-savvy little one surf with a bit less supervision and a lot less worry.

Ordinarily I’m unimpressed by what feel like arbitrary filters, but the community aspect of Totlol makes it a much more viable offering, I think. What’s not to like about a place where my kids can keep themselves amused for precious minutes while I do frivolous things like fix their lunch or sort their laundry? Exactly.

He’s not just the president, he’s also a fanboy

I think it’s time for a little bit of reader participation out here. (People, I see you. You’re not a very chatty bunch, but I know you’re out there.)

Anyway, listen. Last week was Fall Toy Fair in Dallas, and do you know who was there? The Wiggles! Possibly to promote their latest DVD, I don’t know. (I wasn’t there. I am but the lowly Toy Box Mommy, and if I go off to these sorts of events, chances are excellent that the Toy Box Children will eat nothing but breakfast cereal until I returned with the mighty power of my maternal glare and “You know, there are starving children in Darfur who would kill for that fish stick, kid.”)

Now, anyone who knows the story of Ty’s Toy Box knows that it all started with the Wiggles, long ago. And now they have Wiggles merchandise along with a billion other licensed lines, but the Wiggles, people, they’re the reason Ty Simpson got started on this.

Anyway. As I was saying, last week: Fall Toy Fair, The Wiggles… and then guess what happened. Go on, guess!
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The Wiggles are Getting Strong even without Greg Page

Greg Page left The Wiggles due to health concerns, the group is still going strong with replacement Sam Moran. In fact, this has been a pretty exciting week for the children’s musical sensation. Although many bands cannot withstand the loss of a core member, The Wiggles are still a household name and they’ve just released another DVD and are about to tour again:

On Tuesday, the group released “Getting Strong” in the United States, its 28th DVD and the first without Page. They’re also getting ready to set out on their third U.S. tour of the year.

The Wiggles, as most parents know, are as ubiquitous as sippy cups and blankies in the preschool set with catchy songs like “Hot Potato,” and “Fruit Salad” that can wedge themselves into the brain for days.

Has Moran lived up to Page’s legacy? See a clip from the new DVD here, where he seems quite at home. And yes, I do have “Hot Potato” stuck in my head now, thanks.

(You can, of course, purchase Getting Strong! right here at Ty’s Toy Box—both the DVD and the CD are available.)

Although I still maintain that poor Sam should’ve gotten his own shirt color, he seems to be adjusting well. It sounds like the group can’t resist a bit of ribbing, though:

“Sam’s been a mate of ours for years and of Greg’s, and stepped in for Greg many times so it wasn’t hard from an entertainment point of view,” Field said.

But he said they still give Moran a hard time.

“We just constantly tease him about being the new guy. If we’re still around in 15 years, we’ll still be teasing him about being the new guy,” Field said.

Field said they let Moran get behind the wheel of the Big Red Car, but they put learner plates (for new drivers) on it before his first official gig.

Well, hopefully the release of Getting Strong! will give Moran that last bit of boost from “new guy” to “just one of the guys.” Congratulations to all of The Wiggles, and have a great tour!

Greg Page officially leaving The Wiggles

It seems like just last week that I told you about Greg Page coming clean about his mystery illness that had him missing tour dates with the rest of The Wiggles. Now the group has finally made it official: Page is leaving the group:

SERIOUSLY ill Wiggles member Greg Page has officially departed the children’s supergroup, shattering their millions of young fans around the world.

As The Daily Telegraph revealed four weeks ago, Yellow Wiggle Page has been struck down for months with a mystery illness that doctors have been unable to diagnose.

The group – the country’s highest earning entertainers – are announcing his departure and discussing his illness at a press conference at Perth’s Burswood Dome.

They said they would make a “major announcement relating to members of the group” ahead of their Australian tour, starting at the venue.

The three other Wiggles members – Anthony Field, Murray Cook and Jeff Fatt – arrived in Perth yesterday without Page.

Sam Moran (Page’s longtime understudy) has been filling in as the Yellow Wiggle for most of 2006. Hopefully the poor guy will finally be getting some respect; because The Wiggles were so tight-lipped about Page’s condition for so long, Moran was regularly being “sprung” on unsuspecting audience members who had no idea that Page wouldn’t be appearing. Those are big yellow shoes to fill under any circumstances, but I’d imagine that facing a disgruntled and surprised crowd isn’t much fun.

As for Page’s condition, well, it remains a mystery:

Group manager Paul Field – brother of Blue Wiggle Anthony Field – said earlier this month that the condition was not cancer as had been speculated.

“Absolutely not the case,” he said.

Page at the time said doctors were yet to diagnose the health problem behind the fainting spells.

“I have had numerous bouts of this over the past eight months but they are getting more frequent, and more concerning,” he said.

“So I have decided that I must go home, rest and seek further medical advice to assure myself that I will be OK for future tours.”

I wouldn’t presume to tell someone how to conduct their medical affairs, but I’m guessing one of two things is happening here.

The first possibility is that Page’s doctors really are befuddled, eight months into a condition that causes him to regularly lose consciousness. Think about that for a minute. If this is true, I think it might be time for Page to switch doctors. Just sayin’.

The second possibility is that Page is suffering from a diagnosed ailment and doesn’t wish to share the details with the world, which is certainly his right. But in that case… there’s certainly been a lot of talk that… ummm… is misleading.

So in the first scenario, someone isn’t very bright, and in the second, someone is lying. Neither situation speaks well of what is happening here, but neither does either one change the fundamental fact that a beloved entertainer is ill. Again, best wishes to Greg Page and his family as they navigate this difficult time.

[Edited to add: Page announces he has Orthostatic Intolerance. What isn't discussed is the various underlying causes of that disorder and whether he knows what they are in his case.]

But is it wrong that I’m sort of feeling like maybe—instead of having Moran be the Yellow Wiggle stand-in—they should, I don’t know, retire the yellow shirt? Let Moran be his own Wiggle, I say. Sam the Green Wiggle, maybe. Sam the Orange Wiggle! Give the man his own shirt, people.