Toon News (Partially Lost CGI Interstitial Toon Disney Series; 2004/2005)
In 2004/2005, for the UK, Europe, Middle East and Africa, Disney created a CGI series of promotional interstitial shorts called Toon News that would be aired on Toon Disney. It stared a cowboy-robot-newsreader called Smokey Silvers (who wears boxer shorts and cowboy boots) ably piloting the Toon News blimp that patrolled the skies over Toontown and giving news to the audience following a short, comical, introductory segment. They’d put in clips of airing Toon Disney shows and try to make some kind of “news story” out of it (such as with Hercules: The Animated Series’ maze episode). Also, some way through the series, Smokey’s nephew Spike would come to join him, which he would at first be quite disquieted and scared about (with there being a shock chord as the episode ended) only to later confess in the next episode that he had actually warmed up to the idea, before receiving him through air mail in the introductory segment of another episode. There may have also been a scene with the two hopping through a TV screen only to have Smokey get trapped. It ran for 26 5 minute long episodes (two series) and was screened around the world minus the Pacific. It also appeared as a section of Toon Disney UK’s website.
It was nominated for a BAFTA and helped Cathy McDonald win both the Best (and Creative, unless that was the same award) Newcomer Award at Promax Europe 2005 and Young Creative in Europe Award at Promax Athens (again, unless that was the same award). She initially researched for it before becoming the director, going on to write and direct all 26 episodes. She also co-created the two characters, to which she created Spike and developed the character of Smokey. Animators who worked on it include Jonny Grew (animation and prop modelling), Nathan Laud and Han Park (at LIME during his 2005-2007 span there, who refers to it as just “Smokey Silvers”). Mark Harrison was the producer, and Stewart Pearson was the executive producer. Smokey was voiced by Lewis Macleod.
Footage from this series online is existent, but scarce and in no way completing of all 26 five minute episodes. The opening segment of Smokey Silvers receiving Spike through air mail was uploaded by MacDonald and Harrison as an excerpt from the series. A number of small clips can be seen in a 2004 showreel of Grew’s, while MacDonald’s 2014 showreel contains an opening segment with Smokey and Spike receiving jet pack items. And a Portuguese clip promoting Cars has also been uploaded.
When asked about uploading any footage of it, Han Park said to possibly contact the two people who ran LIME (“James” and “Nick”) about it. He then said he possibly couldn't go about doing that himself because it's been such a while.