For a long time, the future of children’s faith-based entertainment has rested on the shoulders of a singing tomato and cucumber. With the launch of his own company, Rob Hudnut—who recently left his VP and exec producer post at Mattel after 19 years—hopes to change that.
“Veggie Tales is a wonderful property, but there’s certainly room in the market for more faith-based content,” says Hudnut. “There hasn’t been anything new and exciting in that space in a long time.”
Based in L.A., Rob Hudnut Productions will create and produce faith-based and play-based kids content. Hudnut will also consult with studios, toycos and IP owners as they attempt to develop their own play-based franchises. (He is currently developing new projects, which he plans to have ready for Kidscreen Summit in February.)
“My goal for the new company is to tell stories that inspire kids to acts of courage, play and love,” says Hudnut. He believes courage is the virtue that makes all others possible, and that children who feel loved are empowered to be caring and inclusive themselves. Play, he contends, is also crucial because it is the brain’s favorite way to learn.
As a consultant, Hudnut will draw on his extensive industry experience and time at Mattel. During his stint with the US toymaker, he served as a creator of series, movies and specials for properties including Barbie, Hot Wheels, American Girl, Matchbox, Polly Pocket and Fisher-Price Little People.
“I’ve noticed at markets, and in receiving pitches at Mattel, how many studios would like to create content that inspires play and toy lines but don’t know how to do it,” he says. “I think it’s noble to inspire play. All creativity involves play. Helping others figure out what ideas can naturally inspire play, or can be developed to inspire it, is something I really enjoy.”
Hudnut also plans to create music-driven content. An Emmy-nominated songwriter, he co-wrote virtually all of the songs in the Barbie movies during his tenure with Mattel, as well as songs for Hot Wheels and Fisher-Price. Creating musicals, he says, is one of his greatest joys.
“It’s been such a privilege to serve at Mattel, creating content that has driven billions in entertainment revenue and many billions more in toy and consumer products revenue, inspiring countless hours of play,” Hudnut says. “Now I’m excited to start creating my own concepts.”