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Warner Bros. to launch interactive cartoons

Warner Bros. is teaming up with togglethis to bring the start-up's animation technology and signature character to its cartoon lineup.

Warner Brothers today announced a deal with togglethis that will bring the New York-based start-up's animation technology and signature character to the Warner Brothers cartoon lineup.

Togglethis technology creates animated characters that respond to user commands. Click on togglethis flagship character Bozlo the Beaver and he falls down. Click and drag him to the top of the screen and he falls farther. Do it again and he'll mangle your cursor.

To some it may seem like so much Saturday-morning cartoon violence imported to the Web, but Warner Brothers and others are envisioning and implementing some lucrative applications.

Intel's advertising department, for instance, is responsible for the other togglethis character currently in existence, a "BunnyPerson" in a purple lab suit that dances across the desktop and, with the help of a click and drag, turns a dove into a peacock.

[Intel is an investor in CNET: The Computer Network.]

With the Warner Brothers deal, more characters are on the way. Warner Brothers is considering a togglethis incarnation of Rosie O'Donnell for her Web site. The Warner Brothers children's site on America Online and the animation areas of the Warner Brothers Web site are also due for togglethis animation.

Warner Brothers will enjoy a month-long period of exclusivity with the technology, and expects to debut its togglethis characters in the next two months. The Bozlo character, currently featured in weekly episodes by togglethis, will become a joint property of the companies.

Other terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The technology offers advertisers some attractive advantages, according to Warner Brothers.

"This gives the consumer the ability to interact with advertisement, which means they're paying a lot more attention than to a banner that just sits on the screen," said Warner Brothers Online vice president Jim Moloshok.

But Moloshok stressed that Warner Brothers was licensing the technology primarily as a tool for delivering content, not ads.

"We're always looking for new ways to get our content out there, for new ways of entertaining the public," said Moloshok. "We have a mainstream audience, and they're looking for as close to the television experience as they're used to...This gives us the opportunity to create the same animation as we can with TV, except with interactivity."