HBO Max and Cartoon Network has greenlit and acquired several projects for their kids and family live action slate, Variety has learned exclusively. The slate includes two specials based on Mattel’s American Girl franchise and a supernatural romance starring Peyton List.
The first American Girl special has the working title “American Girl: Corinne Tan,” inspired by the doll brand’s 2022 girl of the year and the first doll of Chinese descent. Miya Cech stars as 13-year-old ski enthusiast Corrine, who is still navigating her parents’ recent divorce while her 10-year-old sister Gwynn (Kai Cech), mom Judy (Michelle Krusiec), dad and stepdad Arne have adjusted to their new roles in this blended family. She discovers a new purpose when she challenges herself to train a rambunctious puppy named Flurry to become a search-and-rescue dog.
More from Variety
Angela Tortu serves as director. Fred Soulie and Phil Breman executive produce for Mattel Television while Larry Grimaldi, Hannah Pillemer and Fernando Szew executive produce for MarVista Entertainment with Adam Shepard as co-executive producer. “American Girl: Corinne Tan” is scheduled to premiere in December 2022 on Cartoon Network, available on HBO Max the following day. The second American Girl special will follow next year.
Peyton List will star in two-part HBO Max special “B-Loved” (working title) from Endeavor Content and Wonder Worldwide. The special follows Bea (List), a free-spirited teenage ghost who forms a special friendship with the new boy in town, Cole, whose house she has been inhabiting for over 100 years. With the help of a magical ring that allows Cole to see Bea, they’ll rediscover the meaning of being alive, but also the importance of letting go.
Black List Nicholl Fellowship winner Cesar Vitale serves as writer, while Emily Ting directs. Mark Burton and Aaron Parry, Tracy K. Price, William Andrew, Ryan Malachowsky and Jill Sanford. Executive produce. “B-Loved” is set to premiere in time for Valentine’s Day 2023.
“The live-action specials announced today capture the sweetness, the funniness, the chaos, and the messy imperfect genius of growing up and becoming who you are. Let’s face it, most of us can still relate to all those feelings which makes this content so resonant,” said Amy Friedman, head of kids and family programming at Warner Bros. “These projects are a reflection of our commitment to bring in more girls and teens to HBO Max and Cartoon Network with authentic, fun, courageous and emotional stories that speak to kids lives now.”
HBO Max and Cartoon Network also announced “Home Sweet Rome,” a musical comedy series set to premiere in 2023. From “Hannah Montana” and “That’s So Raven” creator Michael Poryes, the series follows 13-year-old Lucy (Kensington Tallman) who moves from California to start a new life in Rome with her dad and stepmom, Francesca (Eleonora Facchini) — who happens to be an Italian pop star. With new friends, amazing food, haute fashion and a best friend who is thousands of miles away, Lucy discovers what “When in Rome” is all about as her adventures abroad get underway.
“Home Sweet Rome” is developed and written by showrunners Matt Huether and Courtney Jane Walker. Italy’s Red Monk Studio and Canada’s First Generation Films co-produce. Executive producers include Pedro Citaristi of Red Monk and Christina Piovesan of First Generation, along with Doug Schwalbe, Jérémie Fajner, and Clement Calvet of Superprod Group, Matt Huether, Courtney Jane Walker and Poryes.
“Michael Poryes has created beloved global teen and tween hits from ‘Hannah Montana’ to ‘That’s So Raven.’ ‘Home Sweet Rome’ will add to that list of iconic female leads, and this time … in Rome!” Friedman said. “We’ll explore all the most authentic and hilarious tween issues like new friends, new stepmom, new life against the beautiful backdrop of the food, fun and fashion of Rome, and shot entirely on location. I have never had more executives insist on a set visit.”
HBO Max has also acquired the series “Hank Zipzer” and “My Babysitter’s a Vampire,” both adapted from young adult book series, as well as teen dance series “The Next Step.” Additionally, Seasons 5-7 of “The Next Step” will be available this summer.
Based on the book series co-written by Henry Winkler and inspired by his own life, “Hank Zipzer” will debut on HBO Max on May 13. The series follows 12-year-old Hank, a smart and resourceful boy with dyslexia who sees himself differently from the way the world sees him.
In “My Babysitter’s a Vampire,” when Ethan Morgan’s (Matthew Knight) overprotective parents arrange for a babysitter to watch over him and his 8-year-old sister, he thought he’d die of embarrassment. But there’s no need to worry, as embarrassment is now the last thing on a long list of stuff that wants to kill him. The series is currently scheduled to debut on HBO Max in October 2022.
“The Next Step” follows the highs and lows of an exceptional group of dancers as they learn to bet on themselves, believe in their team, and dance through their challenges on the way to making their dreams come true. Season 8 is set to premiere in 2023 on HBO Max. Seasons 5-7 will be available on the streamer this summer.
(Pictured, left to right: Miya Cech, Peyton List)
Best of Variety