HBO Max to Stream ‘Degrassi’ Reboot

HBO Max and WarnerMedia Kids & Family have greenlit “Degrassi,” a new version of WildBrain’s  youth franchise of the same name, expected to launch in the United States exclusively on HBO Max in 2023.

The new teen and family series will include 10 hour-long episodes.

Additionally, HBO Max has picked up the U.S. rights for the entire 14-season library of “Degrassi: The Next Generation,” which will become available on the platform this spring. It will also become available at a later date on Cartoon Network.
A reprise of the original teen drama, “Degrassi” is a character-driven series about the high school experience and the thrilling, often painful journey of self-discovery. Set in Toronto, the new series explores a group of teenagers and school faculty living in the shadow of events that both bind them together and tear them apart.

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“Series after series, the ‘Degrassi’ franchise continues to make an indelible impact on young viewers looking for trustworthy and authentic storytelling,” Amy Friedman, head of kids and family programming, Warner Bros., said in a statement. “WildBrain continues to artfully capture high school life in a compelling format that can be experienced seamlessly on HBO Max.”
“I’m delighted that our first-ever commission from HBO Max is for ‘Degrassi,’ a truly venerable franchise with a highly devoted and passionate audience,” Eric Ellenbogen, CEO of WildBrain, said in a statement. “This is yet another evergreen property from our vast IP library that we are reviving with a fresh vision and creative-first approach.”
“Now in its fourth decade, ‘Degrassi’ is one of those beloved evergreen properties that demands to be refreshed for each new generation,” Josh Scherba, president of WildBrain, said in a statement. “Stephanie Betts, our chief content officer, along with showrunners Lara Azzopardi and Julia Cohen, have envisioned an evolution for ‘Degrassi’ that, while staying true to the fundamental honesty, humanity and integrity of the brand, promises fans a journey into exciting new territory, both creatively and dramatically. We’re delighted to be partnering with HBO Max to deliver this new vision to fans and extend ‘Degrassi’s’ legacy.”
“What excites us maybe the most about reviving this beloved franchise is turning it into a truly serialized one-hour drama,” Azzopardi and Cohen said in a statement. “We’re honored to be given the opportunity to lead this evolution and bring this iconic series back into people’s homes.”
Degrassi will be produced by WildBrain Studios and developed by Azzopardi and Cohen, who also serve as executive producers.
Owned by WildBrain, “Degrassi” was originally created by Linda Schuyler and Kit Hood in 1979 and has become a Canadian institution celebrated worldwide and recognized with dozens of awards across its six series, over 500 episodes and four TV movies, including two International Emmy Awards, two Teen Choice Awards and a Peabody. WildBrain’s newest series for the brand, titled Degrassi, is set to launch in the U.S. with 10 one-hour episodes on HBO Max in 2023. 

WarnerMedia Kids & Family Unit Adds Executives

WarnerMedia announced that Gloria Ponce and Sowon Sawyer have joined the company’s “kids & family” creative and programming team. Ponce, who joined the company earlier this year, has taken on the new role of senior creative executive, while Sawyer has been tapped as VP of program planning.

Both report to Amy Friedman, head of kids and family programming, with Sawyer also reporting to Meredith Gertler, EVP of content strategy and planning for HBO and HBO Max.

From left, Gloria Ponce and Sowon Sawyer

WarnerMedia Kids & Family aims to expand streaming and linear content to preschoolers and families. Ponce and Sawyer will be tasked with adding content and strategic program for the recently launched Cartoonito and ACME Night, as well as other content and programming initiatives across Max and Cartoon Network.

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“Gloria and Sowon each bring exceptional taste and diverse industry experience to the team, and they’ll be invaluable leaders as we deliver inclusive content to kids and families wherever they watch,” Freedman said in a statement.

In her new role, Ponce oversees the creative development of live-action original content across ages 6-11 and family audiences. She currently has more than 15 shows in development for Max and Cartoon Network, with an emphasis on Latino-focused programming.

Before joining WarnerMedia, Ponce spent three years at Netflix managing international originals for youth audiences. Previously, she worked as a creative executive in the Nickelodeon Original Movies department and later transitioned to the Latino-focused digital content studio Mitú, where she was instrumental in crafting the company’s brand identity and scripted content strategy.

Prior to joining WarnerMedia, Sawyer led scheduling strategy for SundanceTV at AMC Networks, where she was responsible for promoting audience growth and retention for SundanceTV. Previously, Sawyer worked 11 years at Nickelodeon in program planning and strategy for TeenNick, NickJr., and NickToons.

An advocate for inclusion, Sawyer also served as a founding co-chair of AMC Networks’ diversity, equity and inclusion committee, where she spearheaded the development of nine employee resource groups, served as a key advisor on corporate diversity initiatives, and developed mentorship and professional development programs.

Friedman’s executive team also includes: Kim Howitt, senior creative executive, who oversees the development of third-party animation, co-production and live-action across preschool, kids and family; Adina Pitt, whose expanded role includes leading kids and family acquisitions, co-productions, and content partnerships across both linear and streaming in the United States, and on linear in LatAm; and Joanna Rosenthal, as creative executive, WarnerMedia Kids & Family.

‘Tom and Jerry’ Preschool Series Gets Greenlight for HBO Max and Cartoon Network

The first-ever preschool “Tom and Jerry” animated series “Tom and Jerry Time,” produced by Warner Bros. Animation, has been greenlighted as part of WarnerMedia Kids & Family’s new Cartoonito preschool programming block, debuting on HBO Max and Cartoon Network.

Combining comedy with key early learning concepts, “Tom and Jerry Time” aims to teach young viewers the skills they need to explore the world around them, according to the studio.

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“Based on the beloved classic that so many parents grew up with, ‘Tom and Jerry Time’ introduces a whole new generation to these iconic characters with a fresh and original take,” Amy Friedman, head of kids and family programming at Warner Bros., said in a statement. “For our youngest audience, Sam Register and his team at Warner Bros. Animation managed to keep all the playful hijinks, drop all the cartoon violence, and add the most delightful early childhood learning through song and story.  It’s playful — with a purpose — and we think parents and their little ones will love watching and learning together.”

Presented as a series of animated musical shorts, “Tom and Jerry Time” turns the world created by the cat-and-mouse rivalry into a cartoon classroom. Preschoolers will be introduced to their comical mischief — chasing, pranking and outsmarting each other — while also learning key social and emotional skillsets, lessons in independence, early math and literacy skills, and other key preschool educational concepts, according to the studio.

Sam Register (Looney Tunes Cartoons) is executive producer. Will Finn (Tom and Jerry in New York) serves as showrunner and co-executive producer with Denise Downer (Stillwater) on board as story editor.