HBO Max and Cartoon Network have plans to air three new live-action productions.
Longtime readers of the site are probably experiencing déjà vu with this announcement. Back in 2006, Turner Animation executive VP and COO Stu Snyder had himself the mother of bad ideas when he decided to start programming live-action shows on Cartoon Network. Seven years later, after his live-action initiatives failed to gain any traction, Cartoon Network resumed producing fully-animated content and Snyder was looking for a new job.
Fast forward to February of last year and a new Cartoon Network live-action show called Family Mash-Up from Hannah Montana and That’s So Raven co-creator Michael Poryes was announced to little fanfare. It was, however, the first live-action show announced by the network since 2013’s short-lived Incredible Crew.
That same month, then-Cartoon Network boss Tom Ascheim participated in a discussion at Kidscreen in which he teased that the channel had even greater ambitions in live-action, only this time with the blessing of audiences. He explained that his regime believed live-action programming would increase viewership among girls who, according to his data, “age out of animation earlier than boys” before returning to it as young adults.
Here is what we know so far about the new live-action productions.
HBO Max and Cartoon Network are teaming on a pair of American Girl specials, the first of which will be American Girl: Corinne Tan.
The one-hour special will be based on the Mattel-owned doll brand’s 2022 Girl of the Year and the first American Girl of Chinese descent, Corinne Tan.
Mattel Television and Marvista Entertainment are producing the special, which is scheduled for December of this year. Angela Tortu (Fresh Off the Boat) directs.
The special will air on Cartoon Network in the U.S. and be available the following day on HBO Max.
American Girl: Corinne Tan will star siblings Miya and Kai Cech as sisters Corinne and Gwynn, and Michelle Krusiec as their mom Judy.
In the special, 13-year-old Corinne Tan and her younger sister Gwynn are adjusting to life after their parents’ divorce. During the transition, Corinne finds a new purpose for herself after an encounter with a puppy named Flurry, who she trains to become a search-and-rescue dog.
The second American Girl special will premiere in 2023. Details about that special have not yet been announced.
“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, 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.”
Home Sweet Rome
The network and streamer are also teaming on a musical live-action series titled Home Sweet Rome.
The series, like Family Mash-Up, is based on an original concept from Michael Poryes.
It’s being developed and written by Degrassi alums Matt Huether and Courtney Jane Walker, who will both serve as showrunners.
The show will be shot entirely on location in Rome.
Kensington Tallman (Drama Club) will star as Lucy, a 13-year-old American girl transplanted to Rome with her father and new stepmom Francesca, played by Italian actor and singer Eleonora Facchini.
As Lucy learns to adapt to life in a new country, new school, and new culture, she must also reconcile the fact that her new stepmother is a famous pop star.
It’s a co-production with Italy’s Red Monk Studio, a Superprod Group company, and Canada’s First Generation Films.
“Coming up with the idea to follow this young girl as she’s adjusting to a new culture where everything is different felt like a perfect narrative to capture the humor and awkwardness of this pivotal age,” said Poryes. “I’m looking forward to seeing where Matt and Courtney take Lucy’s challenging story as they explore these funny, heartwarming moments of unfamiliar situations and attitudes, and how they all boil down to universal emotional truths of being a young teen.”