WarnerMedia’s upcoming streamer HBO Max has signed an exclusive multi-year deal with children’s author Mo Willems (pictured, courtesy of Ben Folds) and Greg Silverman’s (The LEGO Movie 2) media company Stampede Ventures. Willems is HBO Max’s first artist in residence.
The first project that’s part of the deal is live-action special Don’t Let the Pigeon Do Storytime!, produced by Stampede Ventures and Willems. The family comedy special features a group of celebs, comedians and actors performing live readings and sketch comedy inspired by Willems’ work. Some of the cast includes Anthony Anderson (Black-ish), Yvette Nicole Brown (Community), Rachel Dratch (Saturday Night Live) and Tony Hale (Veep).
HBO Max has already committed to additional live-action storytime specials, as well as multiple animated specials based on Willem’s popular kids books, the first of which will be based on his New York Times best seller Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed.
Willems is an Emmy Award-winning writer and a New York Times best-selling author and illustrator who began his career as a writer and animator of Sesame Street. He has also created several projects for Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon, including Sheep in the City and The Off-Beats, respectively. Some of his kids book include Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! and the Knuffle Bunny series.
HBO Max has been on a buying spree in the lead up to its streamer launch and has picked up several series from Cartoon Network Studios and Warner Bros. Animation and live-action shows Karma and Craftopia.