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Netflix unveils Chris Nee’s slate

The SVOD also signed an overall deal with Jorge Gutierrez, bringing D&I to the forefront of its expanded kids and preschool programming.
October 15, 2020

Netflix has pulled the curtain back on three new animated preschool series that will be developed as part of its overall deal with Peabody- and Emmy-winning kids TV producer Chris Nee (Doc McStuffins, Vampirina) and her production company Laughing Wild.

First up is Ridley Jones, an action-adventure series animated by 9 Story’s Brown Bag Films about a six-year-old girl who must protect her family’s museum when its exhibits come to life at night. Nee is the show’s creator and executive producer.

Spirit Rangers meanwhile, is a fantasy-adventure series that dives into the story of three Native American siblings who must use their ability to transform into spirit animals to protect their national park home. Vampirina script coordinator and Chumash tribal member Karissa Valencia is attached as creator and executive producer, and Paris-based studio Superprod will handle the animation. According to Netflix and Valencia, the series received  a blessing from the Chumash and Cowlitz tribes to be made, and it features a native-led team of writers, artists, actors and composers.

Rounding out the trio of shows is Dino Daycare from Vampirina writer Jeff King. Set in a world where dinosaurs live alongside humans, the series charts the daily life of a human boy who helps out at a nursery for baby dinos. The series aims to show that boys can be vulnerable and show feelings. Nee and King will executive produce together.

The slate’s first series, Ada Twist, Scientist, was ordered earlier this month and will be co-produced by Nee and the Obamas’ Higher Ground Productions. It’s on track to premiere globally in 2021. Launch dates for the three new shows have yet to be announced.  

In related Netflix news, Emmy- and Golden Globe-nominated animator, painter, writer and director Jorge Gutierrez has signed an overall deal with the SVOD to write, direct and produce new original animated films, series and interactive projects for preschoolers, kids, families and adult audiences. Gutierrez’s Mexican prodco Mexopolis will be actively involved in the collaborations.

The deal extends a partnership that began in 2018, when Netflix ordered Maya and the Three, a limited animated series created, written and directed by Gutierrez. The female-led Mesoamerican fantasy story is set to launch worldwide in 2021. Previous projects by Gutierrez include animated feature The Book of Life for Fox (produced by Guillermo Del Toro and nominated for a 2015 Golden Globe award) and Nickelodeon series El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera.

In the coming months, more diverse and inclusive content will head to Netflix with three new animated shorts—Canvas, If Anything Happens I Love You and Cops and Robbers. Canvas is the only kid-friendly, all-audience story in the bunch. Directed by Frank Abney III (Toy Story 4, Coco, The Boss Baby) and produced by Paige Johnstone, the 2D- and CG-animated short follows a grandfather who rediscovers his inspiration to paint after experiencing a crushing loss. Five years in the making, Canvas features a Black creative leadership team.

Meanwhile, If Anything Happens I Love You and Cops and Robbers tackle themes of grief and systemic racism, respectively. According to Netflix, more than half of the animators on Cops and Robbers are Black artists, and the majority of the creatives behind If Anything Happens I Love You are female, including the project’s animation director, composer, producer and animation team.

About The Author
Jeremy is the Features Editor of Kidscreen specializing in the content production, broadcasting and distribution aspects of the global children's entertainment industry. Contact Jeremy at jdickson@brunico.com.

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