Dragon Tales is based on characters created in 1978 by Laguna Beach, California artist and retired educator Ron Rodecker. Rodecker was recovering from a coronary artery bypass graft when he began sketching dragons as a means of symbolizing forces in life that were too big to control. In 1997, Jim Coane, then a producer at Columbia TriStar Television, found the artwork and developed it into a television series with several writers. The project was considered something of a risky venture, because it was not based on a well-known franchise like many children's television programs, such as Arthur or Paddington Bear. The series was originally shipped to PBS member stations in 1995 at the suggestion of PBS, but all passed at the time. In October 1995, Jim Coane met Marjorie Kalins, senior VP of programming and production at Children's Television Workshop, and showed her the idea for the series. Kalins, who loved the idea, brought the series to Children's Television Workshop, who agreed to a partnership with the Columbia TriStar Television Group. Kalins helped him and Columbia TriStar Television obtain a grant from the Department of Education and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The grant proposal was written by Wesley Eure. Coane stated that there was never any consideration of trying to shop the program to a commercial broadcast network and that PBS was, in his mind, the only destination for the program. As Columbia TriStar was the TV division of two major Hollywood film studios, which in turn are owned by the Sony Pictures Entertainment division of Japanese multinational conglomerate Sony, Dragon Tales became one of the few PBS Kids and Sprout programs to be co-produced by a Big Six major American studio's TV subsidiary. The other PBS shows made by a major Hollywood studio were Bill Nye the Science Guy (made by Walt Disney Television) and Curious George (produced by Universal Television). In 2002, C-T was renamed to Sony Pictures Television, a company that would co-produce the third season of the program.
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