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Toronto and L.A.-based children’s entertainment producer and distributor DHX Media has signed a major new VOD deal with Midwest Tape-owned digital platform HOOPLA. This is the first time DHX has sold to HOOPLA and underscores the company’s aim of exploiting digital opportunities for its library of programming on emerging platforms.
The three-year deal will see HOOPLA airing over 1300 episodes of DHX Media content including popular animated shows such as Inspector Gadget, The Busy World of Richard Scarry, Caillou and Madeline.
HOOPLA was launched in 2012 and offers a full array of digital movies, television shows, music, and audiobooks. With a focus on public libraries, the content will be available throughout the US and Canada though VOD streaming.
Josh Scherba, DHX Media’s senior VP of distribution said, “We are firmly committed to seeking opportunities with new platforms, and this is a significant deal for us as HOOPLA has a key audience across North America.”
Italy’s Gruppo Alcuni has announced three new deals which will take key TV properties Pet Pals and Symo & Rose as well as their feature length toon Pet Pals: Marco Polo’s Code to all new territories around the world.
Alcuni’s hit series Pet Pals will now be available on AMEBA, the Canada-based multi-platform digital distribution service. The kid friendly series follows the inquisitive pets on their adventures of discovery while emphasizing friendship and encouraging problem solving and observational skills. A new raft of 52 episodes are now available in 3-D. Meanwhile, Symo & Rose has been picked up by Lucha Distribution for Middle East and North Africa (MENA). The dialog-free, Flash-animated series features cute characters and catchy music as well as references to classic movies for cinephiles of all ages.
The studio’s feature-length animated adventure Pet Pals: Marco Polo’s Code, distributed in numerous countries worldwide and a hit at the Italian and Spanish box office, has been acquired by Hong Kong King Land Media for mainland China. The film sees the six Pet Pals struggling against the evil Crow Witch who wants to drain and pave over the lagoon and canals of Venice. The Pals must unravel the secrets of Marco Polo’s Code before it’s too late.
Jan. 29, 2013 — Older women with heart problems may be at greater risk for mental changes that are thought to signal the beginnings of a type of dementia, a new study shows.
Called vascular dementia, it is a type of mental decline that’s thought to be caused by problems in blood flow to the brain. It is believed to be different from the loss of memory and function that happens in Alzheimer’s disease, which is linked to the buildup of proteins in the brain.
The study, which is published in the journal JAMA Neurology, followed 1,450 men and women in the Rochester, Minn., area. At the start of the study, all participants, who were in their 70s and 80s, were free of memory loss or thinking difficulties. Researchers gave them tests to measure brain function every 15 months.
After about four years, 348 people in the study had developed some form of mild cognitive impairment (MCI). This can include problems such as memory loss, having trouble making decisions, coming up with the right words, or navigating a familiar neighborhood.
Of those people, 94 had developed the type of mild cognitive impairment linked to vascular dementia. This type does not include memory loss, but does include the other problems such as with decision making, reasoning, and visual-spatial relations.
Heart health did seem to influence the risk of developing these types of mental changes. Even after researchers took into account other factors known to raise the risk of dementia (like family history, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, and exercise) having heart problems — including atrial fibrillation, coronary artery disease, and heart failure — nearly doubled a person’s risk for developing mild cognitive impairment without memory loss.
The link was particularly strong in women. Women with heart problems were about three times more likely to develop it than women without heart concerns. The link was not significant in men.
Advice to Patients
Researchers say preventing heart disease, through regular exercise and a healthy diet, is the first step. For people who’ve already been diagnosed with heart disease, regular checkups to make sure diabetes, blood pressure, and cholesterol are under control may be important for brain and heart health.
“If we reduce the risk of the conditions that lead to cardiac disease, hopefully we can reduce the risk of developing MCI, and thereby reduce the risk of developing dementia,” says researcher Rosebud Roberts, MD, professor of epidemiology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
TUESDAY Jan. 22, 2013 — Until now, scientists could only identify a sign of brain damage — called tau protein tangles — during an autopsy. Considered a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease, tau tangles also occur in a devastating brain condition caused by head trauma.
In a new study, researchers describe how they pinpointed signs of tau in five former National Football League players who are still alive. The issue of sports-related concussions and brain injuries — particularly among football players — has generated headlines recently, especially after star NFL linebacker Junior Seau died by suicide last year.
The hope is that early identification of signs of brain injury in athletes would enable doctors to alert players to the possibility of devastating long-term damage before it occurs.
For the new study, researchers gave the ex-players a radioactive chemical that binds to tau tangles in the brain so that affected areas light up on PET scan imaging tests.
“All the players had high signals in the brain in areas that other studies of autopsy in chronic traumatic encephalopathy patients have found high concentrations of tau,” said lead study author Dr. Gary Small, a professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Seau, who died by suicide last May at age 43, was found to have tau tangles in his brain during an autopsy, according to a Jan. 10 statement from the U.S. National Institutes of Health. The NIH concluded that he had suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a condition associated with multiple hits to the head and concussions.
The new UCLA study appears online Jan. 22 in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. Because of the study’s small size and design, it’s far from definitive and will have to be verified by more extensive research, Small noted.
The study participants, who included a linebacker, a quarterback, a guard, a center and a defensive lineman, were “what we call a convenience sample,” Small said. “We reached out to contact the [NFL] players’ association and other groups to find individuals who had cognitive [thinking] or mood symptoms.” All the players had suffered at least one concussion and had symptoms including depression, dementia and problems with memory and thinking ability.
One of the five players, who is in his 60s, just has signs of normal aging, Small said.
All the study participants received an intravenous injection of a radioactive chemical called FDDNP, which binds to tau protein in the brain. UCLA holds a patent on FDDNP.
“It’s a very small chemical that has a radioactive label attached to it and the PET scanner acts as Geiger counter and measures its radioactivity,” Small explained.
Dr. Howard Derman, medical director of the Methodist Concussion Center/Nantz National Alzheimer’s Center in Houston, who was not involved in the study, discussed the implications of the new research.
At present, he said, “In terms of what we can do for patients, it’s not much. We can use more sophisticated imaging. We use PET scanning all the time, but PET scanning with an isotope that binds to brain plaque and tangles — it’s the isotope that adds a new dimension.”
Derman said that if proven to work by further research, the method “might be useful to give athletes guidance. If you took an athlete and followed him sequentially after each concussion and then [the brain area] lights up, you might want to say it’s time” to think about retiring.
“I’m more than cautiously optimistic — but it’s [only] five players,” Derman said.
Study author Small said that “there’s a lot of overlap between Alzheimer’s disease, brain aging and traumatic brain injury. We know NFL players have a fourfold greater likelihood of dying from Alzheimer’s disease than people in the general population.”
He said the ability to detect tau in living players “offers us the hope that we can identify individuals before there’s a lot of symptoms and try to protect the healthy brain rather than try to repair damage once it’s done.”
However, with little effective treatment available to treat Alzheimer’s, the value of having that early knowledge might be unclear.
“While we’re waiting for science to catch up, we’ve done a lot of research in the area of healthy lifestyles to protect the brain — physical and aerobic conditioning, proper diet, stress management,” Small said. “For people with memory problems, learning ways to compensate for their cognitive decline is very important.”
Visit the Boston University Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy to learn more about chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
Posted: January 2013
Get ready for long, smarty-pants monologues during the 25th Season of The Simpsons, as Oscar-winning writer Aaron Sorkin (The Newsroom, Social Network) has signed on to guest voice an episode of the series. According to ew.com, Sorkin will advise newsman Kent Brockman in an episode which features Joe Namath and Gordon Ramsay as well.
During the episode, which is titled “Four Regrettings and a Funeral,” Sorkin will lend his voice as newsman Kent Brockman’s inner adviser and appear in a thought balloon when the anchor ponders jumping networks to Fox News. Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane will also voice a character in the season premiere of the show next fall.
For a complete list of the guest voices in the show’s history, visit simpsons.wikia.com/wiki/List_of_guest_stars.