The last few years have seen Netlfix become a major figure in the world of TV animation, with the majority of its original animation slate driven by its current deal with DreamWorks Animation. But if this news is of any indication, one of its upcoming non-DreamWorks shows could see Netflix making its biggest bet on TV animation yet.
Deadline has reported that the digital service has green-lit a 13-episode order for a television series based on Dr. Seuss’ popular children’s book Green Eggs and Ham. For this adaptation, Netflix has enlisted a pretty impressive stable of talent.
Popular TV host and actress Ellen DeGeneres and Jeff Kleeman will produce the show under their A Very Good Production banner. They will be joined by Mike Karz, who will produce for Gulfstream Television, and director David Dobkin. Jared Stern, a key member of Warner Animation Group, will also executive produce the project and will write the adaptation.
The show will be developed by Warner Bros. Animation and will be distributed by Warner Bros. TV. This will mark WBTV’s first collaboration with Netflix. A Very Good Production and Gulfstream Television (Gulfstream Pictures’ TV division) also happen to be based at WBTV.
On top of that, the show will spend at least three years in development, with production starting in May for a 2018 premiere. That’s because the project is expected to be “the highest-end, most expensive animated program ever produced for television.”
Ellen DeGeneres made the official announcement for the series on her syndicated talk show, which will air today.
See the clip here.
Prior to this news, Green Eggs and Ham had a long and twisty journey to the small screen.
It originally began life as a animated feature film, first pitched to Warner Bros. by Jared Stern, who was developing the project with Dobkin, Kleeman, and Karz. That pitch had failed to take flight and the team had since went their own ways (Dobkin went about his directing career, Kleeman went to run A Very Good Production, Marz built up Gulfstream Pictures, and Stern became part of Warner Animation Group). After some time, Kleeman revisited Green Eggs and Ham, this time looking to turn it into a TV series (an idea that DeGeneres embraced). The team was quickly reassembled, with the pitch re-developed as a 13-episode half-hour series that would basically constitute 6 mini-movies.
The 45-minute pitch was then taken to Dr. Seuss’s widow, Audrey Giselle. Originally meant as a quick 5-minute proposal set up at Dr. Seuss’s house, Giselle ended up hearing the entire 45-minute pitch and gave them her full blessing, along with notes that were incorporated by the producers.
As for why Netflix was chosen: supposedly, the team felt that it was the only place where they could have the budget and the timetable to fulfill their vision.
The budget itself is under wraps, but Deadline mentions that it could swing upwards of $5-6 million per episode.
In celebration of the deal (and as a homage to Dr. Seuss), Netflix released a rhymed press release that reads as follows:
NETFLIX ORDERS GREEN EGGS AND HAM
THIRTEEN EPISODES FOR THE WHOLE FAM
In 2018, This Classic Book
Comes to TV with a Whole New Look
Beverly Hills, Calif., April 29, 2015 –
Issued from Netflix headquarters.
Delivered straight to all reporters.
We’d love to share some happy news
based on the rhymes of Dr. Seuss.
Green Eggs and Ham will become a show
and you’re among the first to know.
In this richly animated production,
a 13-episode introduction,
standoffish inventor (Guy, by name)
and Sam-I-Am of worldwide fame,
embark on a cross-country trip
that tests the limits of their friendship.
As they learn to try new things,
they find out what adventure brings.
Of course they also get to eat
that famous green and tasty treat!
Cindy Holland, VP of Original Content for Netflix
threw her quote into the mix:
“We think this will be a hit
Green Eggs and Ham is a perfect fit
for our growing slate of amazing stories
available exclusively in all Netflix territories.
You can stream it on a phone.
You can stream it on your own.
You can stream it on TV.
You can stream it globally.”
So this is definitely not the kind of attention or resources that would normally be given to any other animated TV show. And if things go as planned, this could actually break ground as far as treating TV animation the same way a live-action show would be treated on a network like HBO or Showtime.
No voice cast has been announced as of late, and there are currently no indications that DeGeneres (who will reprise her role as Dory in Pixar’s Finding Dory) will voice a character in the show.
This will also be the first animated Dr. Seuss project to be produced outside of Illumination Entertainment’s current hold on the properties. That studio currently has an adaptation of Why The Grinch Stole Christmas set for November 17, 2017.
What do you think? Any thoughts on the news? Are you looking forward to the show?
Edited by: Kelly Conley