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WarnerMedia Kids & Family and Mo Willems Ink Multi-Year Deal

HBO Max extends licensing rights on the popular animated series ‘Mo Willems Story Time Shorts!;’ new projects in the pipeline include CGI animated special ‘Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Underground Rock Experience’ coming summer 2022 with ‘Unlimited Squirrels’ arriving in 2023.

WarnerMedia Kids & Family has announced that HBO Max has extended its licensing rights to Emmy-nominated Mo Willems’ popular animated series, Mo Willems Story Time Shorts!, currently available on the streamer. The media giant also announced the expansion of its partnership with Willems, a critically acclaimed children’s book author.

In collaboration with Stampede Ventures as Willems’ producing partner, the author has signed on with WarnerMedia Kids & Family for a multi-year deal to create live-action Storytime Specials, and multiple animated and live-action series based on his popular children’s books. New animated projects in development include the animated musical event, Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Underground Rock Experience, premiering this summer, and Unlimited Squirrels, an upcoming animated series debuting next year.

Mo Willems Storytime Shorts! is a collection of animated adaptations of the author’s beloved books, including “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!,” “Nanette’s Baguette,” “Knuffle Bunny Free,” and “An Unexpected Diversion.” The shorts feature voice acting by Willems and his close family and friends.

Upcoming projects include:

Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Underground Rock Experience – Premiering Summer 2022

Based on Willems’s New York Times best-selling book and the sold-out theatrical rock experience, Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Underground Rock Experience is a one-hour CGI animated rock music special that wears its heart on its sleeve. Wilbur Mole Rat and all his Fellow Mole Rats in the Tunnel have always been, well... naked. But when Wilbur discovers clothing and a love for style, the Tunnel turns upside down! An animated hour of “underground” music and comedy about being comfortable in your own skin, this adaptation of the popular theatre experience will knock your socks on!

Willems and Tom Warburton co-wrote the script with original tunes by Willems and composer Deborah Wicks La Puma. Willems and Warburton will executive produce alongside Stampede Ventures’ Greg Silverman and Jay Judah, with OddBot Animation Studios serving as animation house. Megan Alrutz will also serve as producer on behalf of the Mo Willems Workshop. Songs are produced by Dan Petty, Doug Petty, and Michelle Lewis.

The voice cast includes Jordan Fisher as Wilbur; Yvette Nicole Brown as Grande; Kate Micucci as Tall; Kevin Michael Richardson as Venti; Carol Kane as Grand-Mah; Ron Funches as Les Pants the Weather Mole; Thomas Lennon as Stark Naked the News Mole; and Jenna Ushkowitz as the Secret Service Mole.

Unlimited Squirrels – Premiering in 2023

Based on Willems’s New York Times best-selling books for early readers, Unlimited Squirrels! is an animated comedy series centered around Zoomy and an unlimited ensemble of Squirrel Friends who help Zoomy navigate new encounters and learn cool things along the way. Each episode will feature big stories, big facts, squirrely songs, and acorn-y jokes to keep young kids amused and stocked with an unlimited supply of fun, facts, and giggles.

Tim McKeon, who is attached as showrunner, will cowrite with Willems, who will also executive producer with Stampede Ventures’ Silverman and Judah.

Willems is repped by Ellen Goldsmith-Vein of The Gotham Group and Marcia Wernick at Wernick & Pratt.

Source: WarnerMedia

Debbie Diamond Sarto's picture

Debbie Diamond Sarto is assistant news editor at Animation World Network.