EXCLUSIVE: Jem, DuckTales, and Ghostbusters are already taken, so what’s the next iconic Eighties property that’s ripe for a reboot? I’m hearing through the grapevine that the California Raisins, the fictional R&B/soul-themed ad mascots, are next on the list.

Rusty Citron, who is president of the Actors Hall of Fame Foundation, an organization that he founded, confirmed to Cartoon Brew today that he is involved with developing a live-action/CG hybrid feature starring the California Raisins. An international theatrical release is planned for late fall of 2016 or spring 2017, Citron said.

The shriveled-grape quartet, who themselves traded in on 1960s Motown nostalgia, were made famous through a series of Claymation spots animated by Will Vinton Studios. The characters transcended their ad-based origin and became unexpectedly popular, releasing four music albums, multiple primetime animated specials, prolific merchandising, and even a short-lived cel-animated Saturday morning series. At the height of the Raisins craze, musicians like Michael Jackson and Ray Charles were recording songs for their commercials. But, like many of the real musical groups they were imitating, the Raisins fizzled out a few brief years after rocketing to stardom.

Fast forward twenty-five years, and veteran Hollywood player Rusty Citron is the man spearheading the bigscreen musical comeback of the Caifornia Raisins. Citron has experience reviving vintage properties. He tells Cartoon Brew that he was senior vice-president at New World Pictures in the late 1980s, and when the company purchased Marvel Comics from Cadence, he was responsible for leading the team with Stan Lee that re-launched Spider-Man and other Marvel characters.

Citron has recently been making the rounds pitching the California Raisins revival to raisin industry heavyweights and decision-makers. In February, he made a presentation in Fresno, California, to the California Raisin Marketing Board, the group that replaced the California Raisin Advisory Board, which had originally commissioned the characters. Last Saturday, he pitched the idea again to the Raisin Bargaining Association, also in Fresno.

While Citron isn’t sharing many details yet, he says that additional information on production and distribution will be released later this year.

(h/t, James Gonzalez)

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