Yo! It's the Chester Cheetah Show (cancelled animated series; 1986-1992)
|Newspaper article about how the series was angering activists due to it's commercial style nature.|
Frito Lay had once planned to create an animated series based off of Cheetos mascot Chester Cheetah titled Yo! It's the Chester Cheetah Show. The show would have featured Chester alongside new characters who were his "cool" friends, including a funky monkey, a rockabilly dog and a hip hop hippo.
The idea for a show was thought of since 1986 (the year of Chester's debut) and was discussed for years with networks like FOX, CBS and company Marvel Productions.
The project was completely shelved in 1992.
Production on the animated series with FOX began and continued for months before being cancelled. The legal department notified of the evident fact that the show would simply just be an half-hour commercial for Cheetos, and the extremely negative reaction from TV activists because of it. The development team were notified and the project was cancelled.
Only some designs, scripts and storyboards for at least two episodes remain of the FOX version, a few of which resurfaced in 2017 via a series of eBay listings. These listings total 21 storyboard pages from the first episode, and were discovered after an anonymous user posted them to a thread on 4chan's /co/ board.
John Halfpenny, who had worked on the development team, later shared some information on the project, citing the letdown as "an interesting meeting". It's unknown if he can share any more of the work made for the FOX series.
Similarly, a reply back from "Scott Shaw!" stated that Marvel Productions were working on the version for CBS to the point where Scott was contracted to produce the series. It was cancelled for the same reasons.
It is unknown if Marvel Productions was the same company that was always being the producer - or at least for the FOX version - and if Scott has anymore information about the show.
A section from the Kentucky New Era newspaper, dated March 19th, 1992 reveals that even though at this point a spokesman for Frito-Lay revealed that they had cancelled plans for the show, the CBS Chester Cheetah cartoon was getting major flack from TV activists for the same reasons that brought upon its cancellation, with Peggy Charen saying it would be "an example of how commercials are crossing the line into masquerading as children's TV entertainment" and that "Any cartoon is OK, is legal, as long as it isn't an ad".
It states that there was even a petition to get it off the air, with the support of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Black Citizens for Fair Media, and four other organizations.
One of the spokesmen for Frito Lay in Dallas, Tod MacKenzie, said that the show's concept had been discussed since 1986, most recently with the FOX network and that it was now "cold as ice", and also that "since Chester came out in 1986, he's been widely popular" and that they "don't want to jeopardize the job he's doing here." Though the company wasn't bowing to the pressure and wasn't contacted by either the FCC or any of the groups that filled the petition.