Penguin’s Who Was? books inspire Netflix series

The Who Was? Show, produced by FremantleMedia and Matador Content, is based on Penguin's Who HQ book series that has sold 20 million copies to date.
May 11, 2017

Penguin Workshop and Netflix are partnering to bring non-fiction children’s book series Who HQ to the SVOD giant in 2018.

Netflix has ordered 13 half-hour episodes of The Who Was? Show, developed by Penguin Workshop with producers FremantleMedia Kids & Family (FMK) and Matador Content. California-based animation studio Bento Box Entertainment is also on board.

As part of an ongoing partnership between Penguin Random House and FremantleMedia, the latter will represent global ancillary merchandise licensing rights for the books and TV series in all categories except publishing. (FMK will not distribute the show.)

The Who Was? Show will combine history and humor as it focuses on world leaders, innovators and creative trendsetters. The multimedia series includes live action, animated shorts, improvisations, sketches, musical performances and guest appearances by comedians.

Launched in 2002, Penguin’s Who HQ book series features more than 185 titles–including Who Was Frida Kahlo? and Who Was William Shakespeare?–and has sold more than 20 million copies worldwide.

Executive producers on the new show include Rich Korson (The Daily Show, Great Minds with Dan Harmon, TV Funhouse), Bob Higgins (Danger Mouse, The Ricky Gervais Show), Jay Peterson (Lip Sync Battle, Comic Book Men) and Francesco Sedita (president and publisher, Penguin Workshop).

Directors for the series include Stoney Sharp (Comedy Bang Bang), Dan Powell (Inside Amy Schumer) and Jared Lapidus (Maya and Marty, Lovemakers).

About The Author
Elizabeth Foster is Kidscreen's Copy Chief & Special Reports Editor. Contact Elizabeth at efoster@brunico.com


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