Children’s Musical ‘Lilly’s Light’ Debuts on TVOD March 2

FilmRise will release the children’s musical adventure Lilly’s Light: The Movie March 2 on TVOD for rental and purchase.

The film, which explores the challenges facing foster children and is based on the original TV program “Lilly’s Light” that premiered on PBS stations in 2010, stars Sherry Hursey (“Home Improvement,” Bring It On), and co-stars Mindy Sterling (“Austin Powers” franchise, “iCarly”), Philece Sampler (“Stanley”) and Fred Willard (Best in ShowMascots).

Hursey portrays Lilly, a loving foster mom and the keeper of an enchanted lighthouse. With her spirited crew of kids, their exotic talking pets and zany friends, Lilly uses joy, love, laughter and song as her tools and shows everyone that life is full of possibilities. The adventure begins when two curious members of Lilly’s crew discover the Big Book of Little Adventures in the lighthouse basement. Messenger-pelican Pel Mel brings news that newly orphaned Daniel and his pot-bellied pig Oink need a home. As sisters Peaches (Sterling) and Dee (Sampler) snicker-bicker, Professor Crabbe perfects the Illiator. Will and Al Patchitt prepare for guests, while Lilly, the kids and Uncle Fitz take Daniel on a musical journey where they meet Sir Oinks a Lot, the Wizard of Hog (Willard). He discovers the secret of the lighthouse and how to turn the imaginary into a magical adventure. As the adventure ends, the story returns to present day in the lighthouse basement several years later to reunite the characters.

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The title includes song contributions by Oscar-nominated and Emmy-, Grammy-, and Tony Award-winning singer/songwriter Kenny Loggins and Songwriter Hall of Fame inductee Steve Dorff.

The film recently won its second Kids First! Best Award from The Coalition for Quality Children’s Media.

Viewers can see a music video here.

Netflix Picks Up Screen Rights to ‘Redwall’ Children’s Book Series

Brian Jacques’ “Redwall” book series will be reimagined on screen in a rights deal between Penguin Random House Children’s U.K. and Netflix.

Chronicling the adventures of the heroic animals that inhabit the forest haven of Redwall Abbey, the “Redwall” books have sold in excess of 30 million copies and have been translated into more than 20 languages.

A feature film based on Jacques’ first book in the series, Redwall, is currently in development with writer Patrick McHale (Over the Garden Wall, Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio), as well as an event series based on the character of Martin the Warrior.

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The deal marks the first time that the film rights to the entire book series have been held by the same company and the first time a feature film of any of Jacques’ works will be made.

“We couldn’t be more delighted to announce this deal,” Ben Horslen, fiction publisher, Penguin Random House Children’s, said in a statement. “These perennially popular stories have been etched onto the hearts of millions of readers, and we are thrilled to partner with Netflix to bring those beloved characters on screen for families worldwide to enjoy.”

“Brian often travelled the globe to tell his ‘Redwall’ stories to young audiences, more often than not at their schools,” Alan Ingram, representative of The Redwall Abbey Company (owner of Jacques’ intellectual property), said in a statement. “Brian would have been very happy to see that Netflix shares his joy and desire to bring his stories to life as a new universe of films, series and potentially much more for audiences of all ages to enjoy. We are very excited to embark on this new endeavour with Netflix and Penguin Random House UK.”

Apple TV+ Orders Kids Series ‘Jane’

Apple TV+ has ordered “Jane,” a series for kids and families inspired by Jane Goodall.

From Emmy Award winner J.J. Johnson, Sinking Ship Entertainment and the Jane Goodall Institute, “Jane” follows Jane Garcia, a 10-year-old girl with an active imagination. Through pretend play, Jane and her trusty teammates work to protect an endangered animal in each episode because, according to her idol Jane Goodall, “Only if we understand, will we care. Only if we care, will we help. Only if we help, can they be saved.”

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From Sinking Ship Entertainment, “Jane,” a live-action/CGI blended series, is created and executive produced by company partner J.J. Johnson, with the Jane Goodall Institute also serving as executive producers.

Universal Celebrates ‘Croods’ Release With Virtual Museum Events

La Brea Tar Pits, part of the Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County, and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History have partnered with Universal Pictures Home Entertainment on educational virtual “Camp Croods,” based on the DreamWorks Animation family film The Croods: A New Age.

The Croods: A New Age will be available to own on digital Feb. 9 and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD Feb. 23, 2021, from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

The two separate interactive programs will feature hands-on activities and scientific investigation to explore the Ice Age, human origins and the fate of saber-toothed cats. Families will have the chance to meet real-life paleontologists and archaeologists, participate in DIY art projects, explore virtual tar pits (La Brea Tar Pits camp), take a virtual tour of the Human Origins exhibition (Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History camp) and experience drawing demonstrations that bring the prehistoric Croods characters to life.

“Bringing the world of The Croods to life with the help of these two distinguished museums within an exclusive setting is a truly unique opportunity that we are pleased to share virtually with families and kids,” said Hilary Hoffman, EVP of global marketing for Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. “As time-honored brands for research, discovery and exhibition, La Brea Tar Pits and the Smithsonian continue to develop entertaining and engaging programs for kids making them the ideal partners to celebrate the home entertainment release of The Croods: A New Age, the must-own family movie of the year.”

The La Brea Tar Pits camp takes place Feb. 11 from 3 to 4:30 p.m. PT and Feb. 13 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. PT. (Free. Registration required. RSVP at tarpits.org/campcroods).

The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History camp takes place Feb. 23 from 6 to 7 p.m. ET (Free. Registration required. RSVP at s.si.edu/croods ).

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“This collaboration is a great opportunity to showcase the ways in which art and science intersect, while at the same time introducing families to La Brea Tar Pits, the world’s only active paleontological research facility in a major urban area,” said Dr. Lori Bettison-Varga, president and director of the Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County. “We are grateful to Universal and DreamWorks for helping us provide campers with a new way to see science in action and encourage them to keep exploring the world around them — be it through paleontology or animation.”

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“We are excited to join with Universal and DreamWorks to take visitors to Camp Croods on a journey back in time to explore the evidence scientists use to understand the lives of early humans,” said Dr. Kirk Johnson, sant director of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. “Campers will embark on a virtual tour of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History’s Hall of Human Origins which examines the lives and environments of our earliest ancestors and considers the notion of what it means to be human.”

Netflix Inks Deal With Disney Vet Nancy Kanter for Kids and Family Content

Netflix has entered a partnership with executive producer and former Disney exec Nancy Kanter and her Available Light Productions to develop and produce new original content for the service globally.

Kanter will develop and produce animated and live action projects, both feature films and series, for kids and families.

Kanter most recently served as EVP of content and creative strategy at Disney Channels Worldwide, and is a 20-year Disney veteran who established the Disney Junior brand, developing programming for the network and growing them into franchises, including the Peabody Award-winning “Doc McStuffins,” the Emmy Award-winning “Sofia the First,” the Emmy Award-nominated “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” and “The Owl House,” and other series “Elena of Avalor” and “Vampirina” for Disney Junior. She also shepherded “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series,” “Monsters at Work,” “Secret Society of Second Born Royals” and the upcoming movies Spin and Sneakerella, all for Disney+.

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“Throughout my career I’ve challenged myself to think differently, imagine bigger and aim higher,” Kanter said in a statement. “I am delighted at this opportunity to partner with the innovative creators and executive team at Netflix who value those same aspirations, and I look forward to working with them to create new stories that will inspire the minds and touch the hearts of kids and families everywhere.”

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“We want Netflix to be the home of the world’s best storytellers and creative visionaries, and few embody that more than Nancy Kanter,” Melissa Cobb, Netflix VP of original animation, said in a statement. “She’s already made a lasting impact on a generation of kids — creating opportunities to see their lives on screen and inspiring them to feel connected to something bigger than themselves. We can’t wait for her to bring new stories to life at Netflix, and continue to entertain and inspire audiences around the world.”

‘Mysterious Benedict Society’ Book-Based Kids’ Series Coming to Disney+

The series “The Mysterious Benedict Society,” based on the award-winning and best-selling book series by Trenton Lee Stewart, will be coming to Disney+ in 2021.

The series was originally developed for Hulu.

The show stars Emmy Award winner Tony Hale (“Veep,” “Arrested Development”) in the title role. The show also stars Kristen Schaal (“Bob’s Burgers,” “Last Man on Earth”), Ryan Hurst, MaameYaa Boafo, Gia Sandhu, Seth Carr, Emmy DeOliveira, Mystic Inscho and Marta Timofeeva.

The series follows a group of orphans, placed undercover at a boarding school known as The Institute, who must foil a nefarious plot with global ramifications while creating a new sort of family along the way.

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The original book, upon which the eight-episode first season is based, was named a Time Magazine “Best Young Adult Book of all Time” and sold more than 3 million copies.

“‘The Mysterious Benedict Society’ is a beautifully executed adaptation of the celebrated and beloved book series. It’s original, clever and fun for the whole family, which makes it the perfect fit for Disney+,” Dana Walden, chairman of entertainment at Walt Disney Television, said in a statement. “One of the great benefits to creators working with our company is that we have a platform that’s right for every series and having seen the first few episodes of this show, there is no better home for it than Disney+.”

“Disney+ has established itself over the last year as the streaming home for a diverse slate of high-quality content featuring beloved franchises, stories and characters,” Ricky Strauss, president, programming and content curation, Disney+ and Hulu, said in a statement. “We’re thrilled to add ‘The Mysterious Benedict Society’ to Disney+ and know it will captivate our viewers’ imagination with exciting new worlds and capture the hearts of audiences of all ages.”

The show is produced by 20th Television, the former Fox TV production arm acquired by Disney when it purchased and renamed Fox’s studio assets.

Netflix Announces New CG-Animated Series ‘My Dad the Bounty Hunter’

Netflix has announced the new CG-animated series “My Dad the Bounty Hunter.”

The series is created by Academy Award-winning director Everett Downing (“Maya and the Three,” “Hair Love”) and Patrick Harpin (Hotel Transylvania 2, Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation).

The action-comedy series follows the toughest bounty hunter in all the galaxy, a man with razor sharp skills but also a secret — his family on Earth has no idea what he does for a living. So when his two kids accidentally hitch a ride into outer space and crash his latest mission, they discover that their average Dad’s job is anything but boring. Dodging dangerous aliens and laser fights galore, family bonding time goes to the extreme.

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The series will star Russell Hornsby (“The Hate U Give”), Yvonne Orji (“Insecure”), Priah Ferguson (“Stranger Things”), Yvette Nicole Brown (“Community”), JeCobi Swain (Troop Zero), Leslie Uggams (Deadpool), Rob Riggle (The Hangover) and Jim Rash (“Community”).

Everett Downing and Patrick Harpin will serve as creators and executive producers.

“We can’t wait to share our brainchild with the world. My Dad the Bounty Hunter is a love letter to animation, science fiction, and Black families rolled into a crazy action-comedy,” said Downing and Harpin in a statement. “We threw everything we love about sci-fi into this show, but it’s the family at the center of the story that we’re most excited about.”

Apple TV+ to Be Home for ‘Peanuts’

Apple TV+ will stream “Peanuts” original series and specials, along with the classic specials.

New animated “Peanuts” originals coming to Apple TV+ include a second season of the Daytime Emmy-nominated “Snoopy in Space,” and new specials that will find the “Peanuts” gang marking Mother’s Day, Earth Day, New Year’s Eve and going back to school — all to be produced by WildBrain’s animation studio. The new series and specials join the previously announced The Snoopy Show, a new “Peanuts” 70th anniversary documentary film from Imagine Documentaries and WildBrain, and Peanuts in Space: Secrets of Apollo 10.

The original programs and new specials will also soon stream globally alongside iconic “Peanuts” specials, including A Charlie Brown Christmas, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. The Halloween special will begin streaming globally on Apple TV+ Oct. 19, and will be available for free from Oct. 30 until Nov. 1 on Apple TV+. Apple TV+ will launch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving on Nov. 18, and the special will be available for free from Nov. 25 until Nov. 27. A Charlie Brown Christmas will stream exclusively on Apple TV+ on Dec. 4.

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Apple TV+ is available on the Apple TV app on iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, iPod touch, Mac, select Samsung and LG smart TVs, Amazon Fire TV and Roku devices, as well as at tv.apple.com, at $4.99 per month with a seven-day free trial. The Apple TV app will be available on Sony and Vizio smart TVs later this year. For a limited time, customers who purchase a new iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Mac or iPod touch can enjoy one year of Apple TV+ for free. This special offer is good for three months after the first activation of the eligible device. For more information, please visit apple.com/tvpr.

Kids’ Series ‘Karma’s World’ Created by Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges to Stream on Netflix

A new CG animated series, “Karma’s World,” created by rapper, actor and producer Chris “Ludacris” Bridges will stream on Netflix.

The series for children ages 6 to 9 is a coming-of-age story about a young black girl finding her voice and using it to change her world. It was originally inspired by Chris’s oldest daughter, Karma, and is based on the interactive educational website of the same name created by Karma’s World Entertainment in 2009. The series follows 10-year-old Karma Grant, an aspiring musical artist and rapper with big talent and an even bigger heart. Smart, resilient, and deeply empathetic, Karma pours her soul into songwriting, channeling her feelings into rhymes with passion, courage and her signature brand of humor.

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The series will feature original songs that tackle issues such as self-esteem, body positivity, discrimination, creativity, expressing emotions, friendship, family, leadership and celebrating differences. Sound design and original music are created and supervised by Bridges and James Bennett Jr., and produced by Gerald Keys.

Executive producers include Vince Commisso, Cathal Gaffney, Darragh O’Connell, Angela C. Santomero, Wendy Harris and Jennie Stacey from 9 Story Media Group (“Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood,” “Blue’s Clues”). The series is produced in partnership with 9 Story’s Oscar-nominated, Dublin-based studio Brown Bag Films and its Emmy Award-winning creative affairs group as well as Karma’s World Entertainment, Bridges’s production company.

“I’ve had a lot of accomplishments in my life, but everything that I’ve experienced seems to have led up to this point to where I can leave a legacy for all my daughters,” Bridges said in a statement. “‘Karma’s World’ is one of those legacies. I hope this series will show kids that there are many ways to overcome difficult situations. This show is going to move hip hop culture forward and show young girls that they have the power to change the world. This project has been a long time in the making and I can’t wait to bring Karma’s World to the entire world.”

“It has been an absolute privilege to work with Chris to bring his vision of Karma to life. Karma is a character who does not yet exist on kids’ TV,” 9 Story’s Santomero said in a statement. “She is a powerful, empowering role model who uses her words and music to bring about change in her community. Kids who watch ‘Karma’s World’ will be inspired to use creativity as a vehicle for self-expression, and the series furthers 9 Story’s commitment to creating diverse content for children that encourages them to find their voice and follow their dreams.”

‘The Power of We: A Sesame Street Special’ Addressing Racism to Stream on HBO Max, PBS Kids Oct. 15

Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind “Sesame Street,” will address racism — and model how children can stand up to it — in The Power of We: A Sesame Street Special to stream on HBO Max and PBS Kids starting Oct. 15.

Designed as a co-viewing experience for children and families, the special will also debut on PBS stations the same day and will re-air throughout October and November on PBS stations and the PBS Kids 24/7 channel.

“‘Sesame Street’ has the ability to entertain children while explaining complex issues like no other program and equips families and caregivers with the support they need to have empathetic conversations,” Kay Wilson Stallings, EVP of creative and production at Sesame Workshop, said in a statement. “We believe that this moment calls for a direct discussion about racism to help children grasp the issues and teach them that they are never too young to be ‘upstanders’ for themselves, one another, and their communities.”

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The Power of We features Elmo and Abby Cadabby, who are joined by 6-year-old Muppet Gabrielle and her cousin, 8-year-old Tamir, as they learn how to become “upstanders” to unfair treatment based on skin — or fur — color. Current and former “Sesame Street” human cast members Alan, Charlie, Chris, and Gordon take part in the special alongside celebrity and musical guests Yara Shahidi, Christopher Jackson and Andra Day. The Power of We includes two new songs, “How Do You Know?” and “Listen, Act, Unite!,” the latter written and performed by Jackson and featuring Day.

Sesame Workshop has also created a companion guide for families and caregivers to use as they discuss the special with children, available at SesameStreet.org/PowerofWe.