Diesel, BET Animate Hannibal

Having made a name for himself in feature films and video games, action star Vin Diesel is out to conquer television with an animated series about storied African military leader Hannibal of Carthage. Diesel’s One Race Prods. and BET Networks’ freshly formed animation unit will jointly produce Hannibal the Conqueror.

Hannibal is perhaps best known for scaling the Alps with an army of Elephants to challenge the Roman Empire, but the series aims to highlight other aspects of the general’s extraordinary life and career. The show will delve into his tutelage as a warrior under his father, the king of Carthage, as well as his history-making invasions of Spain and England.

“From my first week at BET, I have been pursuing this project,” says Reginald Hudlin, BET’s president of entertainment and former Boondocks producer. “Vin Diesel brings great thought and passion to both character development and storylines, and we are pleased to be the first to be in the animation production business with Vin and One Race Prods. Hannibal will be epic storytelling.”

“It only took Reginald Hudlin becoming president of entertainment for me to know that BET would be the perfect network to launch a Hannibal franchise, the story of the great African general who fought an empire,” adds Diesel. “Having worked passionately for ten years to develop a film property on Hannibal, this animated series will offer audiences a chance to begin to understand the larger-than-life mythology of this classic figure.”

The partnership between Diesel and BET was announced over the weekend at Comic-Con Int’l in San Diego. Hannibal the Conqueror will be exec produced by Diesel and One Race VP Samantha Vincent. Under the management of Denys Cowan, BET Animation will continue to seek out toon properties with African-American appeal.

Hannibal will hardly be Diesel’s first foray into animation. In addition to voicing the title character in director Brad Bird’s 1999 effort, The Iron Giant, he lent his voice and likeness to Peter Chung’s 2004 direct-to-video featurette, The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury, and will be heard in Blur Studio’s 2007 feature-length treatment of Rockfish, its award-winning CG-animated short. The film will be directed by Blur principal Tim Miller, who also helmed the short. Diesel also has his own video game company, Tigon Studios, which co-produced The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay with Starbreeze Studios and Vivendi Universal Games.