HBO Max and Cartoon Network announced three new projects today with New York Times best-selling children’s book author, illustrator and playwright Mo Willems: greenlights for a hilarious animated series Unlimited Squirrels!; CGI-animated special Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Rock Special; and a pilot order for a live-action immersive series, Cat the Cat’s Show the Show Show with YOU the YOU! These projects are designed for unlimited fun and laughter, while encouraging kids (and former kids) to feel comfortable in their own skin.
Joining the most recent live-action special, Mo Willems and The Storytime All-Stars Present: Don’t Let the Pigeon Do Storytime!, and a collection of Weston Woods Studios animated films adapted from his award-winning books, Mo Willems Storytime Shorts!, the new orders, which will be executive produced by Greg Silverman’s Stampede Ventures, will expand an innovative content slate that is part of the streamer’s multi-year deal with Willems.
“Mo’s creative vision and profound legacy is a remarkable force that has the power to shape the future of kids and family programming,” said Tom Ascheim, President of Global Kids, Young Adults and Classics at Warner Bros. Entertainment. “This collaboration is integral to reaching children and adults simultaneously in different and unique ways that are also incredibly fun for everyone.”
“Thanks to my pals at Stampede Ventures and HBO Max I have been given an exciting opportunity to innovate with spectacular creative teams. It’s a joy collaborating and discovering how to bring these characters to the screen in fun, new ways,” said Willems. “While each of the upcoming projects is different in scope and approach, they all focus on my guiding principle to always think of my audience, but never think for my audience.”
In collaboration with Stampede Ventures as his producing partner, Willems signed on with HBO Max to create live-action Storytime Specials and multiple animated and live-action series based on his wildly popular children’s books, which are adored by kids and adults alike. His beloved characters have garnered three Caldecott Honors, two Theodor Geisel Medals and five Geisel Honors between them. Willems began his career as a writer and animator on Sesame Street, where he won six Emmy Awards for writing. He is the most produced children’s playwright in America and his art has been exhibited in major museums across the country. Willems is also the education artist in residence at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, where he is developing multidisciplinary performance projects with the National Symphony Orchestra, Washington National Opera, Dance, Jazz, Comedy and Theatre for Young Audiences.
“Mo is an unparalleled talent and his ability to connect with kids and parents alike has been our great pleasure to support. We are thrilled to deepen our relationship with HBO Max as we help Mo bring to life three exciting worlds brimming with characters that will delight audiences of all ages,” said Greg Silverman, Founder/CEO of Stampede Ventures.
Newly announced projects:
- Unlimited Squirrels! Based on Mo Willems’s New York Times best-selling books for early readers, Unlimited Squirrels! centers 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 co-write with Willems. Willems is also executive producer with Stampede Ventures’ Greg Silverman and Jay Judah.
- Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Rock Special. Based on Mo Willems’ New York Times best-selling book and the sold-out theatrical rock experience, Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed is a 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 theater experience will knock your socks on!
Willems and Mr. Warburton (Codename: Kids Next Door, Muppet Babies) co-wrote the script with original tunes by Willems and composer Deborah Wicks La Puma. Willems will executive produce alongside Stampede Ventures’ Greg Silverman and Jay Judah, with OddBot Animation Studios serving as animation house.
- Cat the Cat’s Show the Show Show with YOU the YOU! This live-action, immersive performance series is for the very young and the very, very curious. Based on Mo Willems’ New York Times best-selling CAT the CAT book series, this show introduces Cat the Cat and her friends as they create, rehearse and perform with YOU the YOU! A show that is focused on the performers at home, as well as on the screen, Show the Show is a chance for YOU to show how special YOU are!
Daytime Emmy-winning producer Kristen McGregor (Giver, Sunny Side Up) is showrunner, and also co-writer with Willems. Willems is executive producing alongside Stampede Ventures’ Greg Silverman and Jay Judah.
Mo Willems and The Storytime All-Stars Present: Don’t Let The Pigeon Do Storytime! and Mo Willems Storytime Shorts! are available now on HBO Max.