The animated show will follow Kai-lan Chow, a 5-year-old girl who speaks both English and Mandarin and goes on little adventures with her animal friends, including Rintoo, a rambunctious tiger, and Hoho, a three-year-old monkey. The series also explores the strong relationship between Kai-lan and her grandfather, Yeye.
"We're really excited about it," said Pam Kaufman, chief marketing officer, Nickelodeon, MTVN Kids & Family Group. "This is the first to show a Chinese-American intergenerational family."
The launch, originally set for this year, has been delayed several times and is now scheduled for February 2008, during Chinese New Year. The network is talking to at least one Asian-American ad agency about pushing "Ni Hao, Kai-lan" to advertisers.
In the show, Kai-lan and her friends learn about traditions such as Chinese New Year and the traditional Dragon Boat Festival. Geared toward children ages 2 to 5, the show also will introduce kids to at least one Mandarin word per episode. In the series pilot, viewers are asked to help Hoho hop high enough to reach a dragon boat on top of a pagoda by yelling the word "tiao," which means "jump."
"The success of Dora went beyond just the cartoon," said an executive at an Asian-American agency. "There are videos, clothes, dolls and other toys, etc. Hopefully this new show will find the same success, and not just with Asian-Americans but with the general market, too. "
"We know kids want to see themselves on TV," Ms. Kaufman said, and about 60% of the 15.4 million Asian-Americans are of Chinese descent.