‘Fairfax’ season two to stream on Prime Video starting 10 June

Your favourite clout-chasing friends are back for more shenanigans as they navigate the timeless struggles of first crushes and misadventures with your ride-or-die crew. Prime Video recently revealed the official trailer and key art for season two of the hilarious adult animated comedy series Fairfax. All eight episodes will premiere on 10 June, exclusively on the streaming platform in more than 240 countries and territories worldwide.

The series has been created and executive produced by longtime friends Matthew Hausfater, Aaron Buchsbaum, and Teddy Riley.

The gang-gang is back for more fun in Season Two of this irreverent animated comedy following the misadventures of four middle schoolers looking to earn their place in the culture. It’s a modern look at the timeless struggle to fit in and stand out, hold on to your ride-or-die crew, and kiss your first crush – who may or may not be A.I. 

Fairfax stars Skyler Gisondo (Dale), Kiersey Clemons (Derica), Peter S. Kim(Benny), and Jaboukie Young-White (Truman). Season Two guest stars include: Billy Porter, Zoey Deutch, Camila Mendes, Rob Delaney, Yvette Nicole Brown, Ben Schwartz, JB Smoove, Tim Simons, Pamela Adlon, Guy Fieri, Annie Murphy, Michael Rooker, Jeff Bottoms, Larry Owens,John Leguizamo, Michaela Dietz, Edi Patterson, Mark Proksch, David Strathairn and Colton Dunn.

The additional executive producers of Fairfax include Jon Zimelis and Jason U. Nadler for Serious Business (@midnight); Peter A. Knight (Bojack Horseman); and Chris Prynoski, Ben Kalina, and Antonio Canobbio for Titmouse (Big Mouth). The artist Somehoodlum, who designed the characters for the series, serves as a consulting producer alongside the pop/internet culture clothing and media brand Pizzaslime.

‘Harley Quinn’ spinoff gets series order at HBO Max

HBO Max has given a 10-episode series order to Noonan’s (working title), an adult-animated spinoff of DC series Harley Quinn. The spinoff hails from the Harley Quinn team of Justin Halpern, Patrick Schumacker, Sam Register, Dean Lorey, and star Kaley Cuoco. 

The show is executive produced by Harley Quinn co-creators Justin Halpern, Patrick Schumacker, and Dean Lorey, as well as Harley Quinn star Kaley Cuoco via Yes, Norman Productions. Sam Register also executive produces. Lorey will serve as showrunner on Noonan’s. Schumacker and Halpern executive produce under their Delicious Non-Sequitur banner. The show is based on characters from DC and produced by Warner Bros. Animation. Halpern, Schumacker, and Cuoco are all under overall deals at WBTV.

Based on the characters from DC, Noonan’s revolves around lovable loser Kite Man, voiced by Matt Oberg, and his new squeeze Golden Glider who moonlight as criminals to support their foolish purchase of Noonan’s, Gotham’s seediest dive bar, where everybody knows your name, but not necessarily your secret identity!

“We love the wild and fun world of Harley Quinn so much we just had to make a spin-off and who better to center it around than the outcast Kite Man,” said Adult Animation, HBO Max and Adult Swim executive VP original comedy Suzanna Makkos. “Justin, Patrick, and Dean have created the perfect local hangout for Gotham City’s not-so-finest at Noonan’s, where bar patrons can blow off steam after a long day of mayhem.”

Harley Quinn unlocked a world of hilarious possibilities with the iconic superheroes and supervillains of the DC Universe,” said Warner Bros. Animation alternative programming executive VP Peter Girardi. “Exploring this world further with our partners at HBO Max and DC is going to be a lot of fun. Plus, after getting dumped by Poison Ivy, the least we could do was give Kite Man his own show.”

Harley Quinn was renewed for a third season with its move to HBO Max, with season three set to debut this summer.

Emmy winner J.G. Quintel’s animated series ‘Close Enough’ season three debuts this April

Warner Media announced that the third season of the Max Original adult animated series Close Enough debuts Thursday, 7 April with all eight episodes. J.G. Quintel, the creator of Emmy-winning series Regular Show is behind Close Enough, a surreal animated comedy. 

The series is about a married couple, their five-year-old daughter, and their two divorced best friends/roommates, all sharing a cramped apartment on the eastside of Los Angeles. They navigate a chaotic time in their 30s as they struggle to grow up without growing old. It’s about juggling work, kids, and pursuing your dreams, all while avoiding alien fitness cults, yacht-rock vampires, and silent film era bison. Their life may not be ideal, but for now, it’s close enough.

The cast includes JG Quintel, Gabrielle Walsh, Jason Mantzoukas, Kimiko Glenn, Danielle Brooks, Jessica DiCicco, James Adomian. Henry Winkler, Laraine Newman, John Early, Nikki Glaser, Debra Wilson, Monét X. Change will join as the guest cast.

Quintel’s creation is produced by Cartoon Network Studios.

Nina L. Diaz to lead unscripted, adult animation for Paramount+

Nina L. Diaz is promoted as the head of unscripted and adult animation for Paramount+. The promotion was announced by Chris McCarthy in a memo to MTV Entertainment Group staffers on Thursday.

According to Variety, Diaz will serve as the new chief creative officer for unscripted entertainment and adult animation at Paramount+ while remaining CCO and president of content for MTV Entertainment Group. She will continue to report McCarthy. In addition, Grant Gish’s role as head of adult animation is expanding to include Paramount+ across series and movies, with Gish still reporting to Diaz.

Lily Neumeyer will expand her role to now include head of development for unscripted entertainment, Paramount+ and MTVE, continuing to report to Diaz. While Tolani Holmes is being promoted to the new role of SVP for development, unscripted entertainment, Paramount+ and MTVE, and will also report to Diaz.

Unscripted executives Ben Hurvitz, Sitarah Pendelton, Todd Radnitz have all been given expanded roles as well, overseeing various key unscripted franchises for the company.

According to McCarthy’s memo, “This reorganization means that the company will no longer have stand-alone movie or Alternative teams. Given that, both Meghan Hooper White and Justin Rosenblatt are exiting ViacomCBS.”

McCarthy wrote ,“We would like to thank both Meghan and Justin for their contributions and wish them the very best in their endeavors, thankfully, both have strong teams who will be integrated into our content group as we align series and movies by genre.”

Hooper White served as executive vice president and head of original movies and limited series for ViacomCBS’ Entertainment and Youth Group. She first joined ViacomCBS just over a year ago in May 2020 from A+E Networks with a mandate to expand the company’s production of made-for-TV movies. White was set to create 100 films annually for the conglomerate’s various network brands, including MTV, Comedy Central, Paramount Network, VH1, CMT and the Smithsonian Channel.

Rosenblatt was the senior vice president of alternative and comedy content for the Entertainment and Youth Group, having been promoted to that role in May 2020.

ViacomCBS Entertainment & Youth Group names Grant Gish as Adult Animation SVP

Grant Gish

ViacomCBS Entertainment & Youth Group has roped in former Marvel Studios and 20th Century Fox TV animation executive Grant Gish to supervise its adult animation unit.

Gish, who helped develop Bob’s Burgers, will lead the unit as the Adult Animation, Entertainment & Youth Brands SVP starting 31 August. In his new role, he will oversee animation across linear and streaming platforms.

Adult animation has been an area of focus for the company president Chris McCarthy, originally at MTV Studios whose strategy so far has involved mining the MTV library of iconic adult animation IP. 

Chris McCarthy

Commenting on the appointment, McCarthy said, “We are thrilled to have Gish lead our new adult animation unit as we expedite the rapid expansion of our adult animation content. Adult animation is an incredibly powerful asset that truly works on every platform and around the world. It’s also pandemic-proof, which is why we are reimagining many of our beloved iconic IPs, unlocking incredible value.”

ViacomCBS Entertainment & Youth Group’s expanding slate of animated content includes South Park and new versions of IPs such as Beavis & Butt-Head (with Mike Judge) Clone High (with Phil Lord, Chris Miller and Bill Lawrence), Jodie and the newly announced Ren & Stimpy Show, a reboot of the cult Nickelodeon cartoon by Comedy Central. Comedy Central intends to grow its adult animation content fivefold within the next two years.

ViacomCBS Entertainment & Youth Group president of content and chief creative officer Nina L. Diaz stated, “Gish has incredible instincts and a supercharged passion for animation. Along with his extraordinary reputation and impressive successes with some of the biggest hits in the genre, from Bob’s Burgers to American Dad, his vision is exactly what we’re looking for to lead our adult animation unit.”

Adult animation has been one of the fastest growing programming areas across both linear and digital that attracts younger viewers; it has been the top genre in gaining streaming share. Adult Animation’s value further increased over the past five months as the only type of scripted programming virtually not impacted by COVID-19 that has managed to remain in continuous production during the pandemic.

Gish joins ViacomCBS from Marvel Studios, where he launched the Adult Comedy and Animation group within the former Marvel Television division. As VP of comedy and animation Gish spearheaded Marvel’s foray into half-hour comedy and adult animation with the upcoming Hulu series M.O.D.O.K. and Hit-Monkey.

Speaking about his new role, Gish added, “I grew up on MTV’s Animation Studios content where I’d run home from school to watch Beavis & Butt-Head, eating pretzels on my couch. With access to such a vast library of IP that will enable us to break through the clutter, coupled with the opportunity to create a fresh slate, I couldn’t be more excited to join the E&Y Group that’s growing in droves under McCarthy and Diaz’s leadership.”

“With Jambo and ‘Namooney’, we wanted to tap on the unexplored areas of adult animation in India”: Ashwin Suresh

Pocket Aces, popular India digital entertainment company recently forayed into animation with the launch of Jambo – a desi-animation channel for young adults. Rejecting the idea that animation is only meant for children, Jambo has created a library of snackable animated videos which resonates with young adult audiences mainly targeted to the Hindi speaking belt across Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh. The channel released India’s first desi-animated comedy web-series, Namooney, on YouTube from mid May 2020.

AnimationXpress spoke to Pocket Aces founder Ashwin Suresh who revealed the reason behind venturing into animation and future plans for Jambo and Namooney. Here are the excerpts:  

> What were the thoughts behind coming up with Jambo?

It was a combination of factors. The most important thing was understanding about the current and future trends, about the kind of local content audiences prefer. So we studied the YouTube trends and we understood that one of the fastest and largest growing categories on YouTube is animation.

Animation in India largely caters to children, but there are a lot of young adults and adults who also admire and enjoy animation but have very less good animated content to fall back on and enjoy. So we observed there’s a domain that’s still unexplored and under served in India. Thus, we thought to touch upon the factors and thought of creating animated content for adults and that’s how Jambo was born, as a result of a calculated effort.

Ashwin Suresh

> What inspired you to create an adult animated web series, Namooney after that for the channel?

In urban India you’ll find enough people who are consuming adult animated content like BoJack Horseman, F for family, Simpsons, Undone and several others. But in India, these numbers are very less. In smaller towns of India people are consuming 2D animated channels and we realised that this is a very underserved category and we should tap on it. 

We began with a small in-house team and started creating content which we could distribute across digital platforms like YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.

We learnt a lot about the short-form content space from the videos we create for Filtercopy or Dice Media. And channelised those learnings for Jambo and noticed that few content on college students, friends, hostel mates and others are quite popular on Jambo. So we intended to make a show that is very relatable, and targets a specific Hindi-speaking belt in India because those areas we feel are still unexplored as far as animation is concerned and are not served enough. The goal was to find some commonality between those states and as well as the urban audience. We tried to find a common ground for their cultures, characters and situations. Hence, we created Namooney.  

> Can you tell us about the team that worked on Namooney, if it was done in-house or commissioned to some studio?

The animation for Namooney is a combination of in-house and outsourced for Pocket Aces. We have a team of content writers, storyboard artists, animators, designers, motion graphics people and more in-house. As the pandemic hit us hard and the lockdown followed, we realised that animation is a genre that we can continue to keep creating unlike live-action. So we decided to expand the volume of content for Jambo. Our short form content volume thus went up from three/four to almost 12. 

Namooney was initially thought to be done entirely in-house. But later, we decided to commission into Prayan Animation Studio in Kerala. We did all the animatics, storyboard, characterisation, background drawings, conceptualisation and everything in house and the animation per say was outsourced. So we gave everything, and told them to animate. All other content on Jambo except Namooney are completely done in-house by a team of 10 people.

For the in-house team, we have Abhinav Krishna (direction), Bhaskar Sivakumar (pre-production), Mayur Khadse (animator), Shreya Vatsa (background design), Shruti Jalgaonkar (animator), Kush Boradia (animator), Monik Chaudhry (channel manager) and Kaiarsh Saher (Operations – associate manager) . The writers are Balram Vishwakarma, Dhaawal Shivhare and Jitesh Vasani. 

> How has Namooney fared since launch? What are your future plans with it?

Namooney has done really well for us, and Jambo. Initially, we were not sure about the audience reception and acceptance but after a few months, we realised that there is an audience for it. When he launched this show on YouTube, we had only 100 subscribers. Now we have 10K+ subscribers for Jambo and the entire credit goes to Namooney. In fact, the 10th or finale episode of season one, had 49K+ views alone. The team is planning to launch the second season very soon, in a couple of months which will be set in Goa and will pick up from where the first season had left.

We are learning a lot about our consumers, about students and their tastes and we are trying to cater to all of it. We’re getting a lot of feedback on Namooney, and we are trying to imbibe if not all, most of it into our upcoming content slate including Namooney

The title character Ankit is already very popular and people want to see more of him and about his life, so we are planning a long form content around it also due to audience demand. So all the analysis and all the betterments are being figured out right now. We’re working upon all of it because we plan to make the character of Ankit even better and more relatable to the audience.

> Did Namooney or Jambo attract advertisers?

For season one, the Pocket Aces/Jambo team didn’t go for advertising but might consider it for the upcoming season as the genre is garnering more attention every passing day.

> What are your other upcoming projects?

We are also planning on our next shows as we have planned to make four animated web series in 2020. We are figuring out the characters, on the story, plot lines, and more. We have calculated the grammar for short form content – from the backgrounds, to the story, to the characterisation, and the plots about how we will develop a character or the show that is around it. We haven’t zeroed down on anything yet.

> What do you think of animation as a medium or industry in India?

Animation is a very affordable and convenient medium for creators and producers especially in such tough times. The technical product is also at par with international standards nowadays. The grammar for short form or long form animated content is different than that of live-action. What we need to focus on is the art of storytelling through animation and we will reach the right spot. Indian animation has a bright future ahead and we are happy to be contributing to it.

Dan Harmon to create animated series for Fox Entertainment

Co-creator of Rick and Morty, Dan Harmon has made a deal with Fox Entertainment to create and develop an animated comedy series which will premiere on the network in the spring of 2022. The announcement was made by Fox Entertainment president of entertainment Michael Thorn. As part of the agreement, Harmon will create and develop a comedy series, produced by Fox Entertainment, with Bento Box Entertainment serving as the program’s animation studio.

Harmon’s Rick and Morty, is currently airing season four on Adult Swim, as part of a 70-episode order. Season three broke ratings records as 2017’s #1 comedy and earned the series an Emmy for outstanding animated program. He also created and executive-produced comedy series Community, which ran for six seasons, garnering multiple Emmy nominations, Critics Choice Awards and other accolades. In 2015, he executive-produced the animated feature film Anomalisa.

The new Harmon project will be Fox Entertainment’s first fully-owned animated series. Jeff Davis, Kyle Killen, Mara Brock Akil and Sarah Watson are other creators who have recently signed deals with Fox Entertainment. Watson, wrote and is executive-producing Fox’s Untitled Film Re-Enactment Project pilot from Warner Bros. Television, Amblin TV and Fox Entertainment.

As part of a major push in adult animation, over the last two years the network has gone from three animated series The Simpsons, Family Guy and Bob’s Burgers to seven including recent additions Bless the Harts, Duncanville and the upcoming Housebroken and The Great North.

‘Tuca & Bertie’ is renewed for season two having picked up by Adult Swim

Tuca & Bertie has been renewed for a second season as Adult Swim has revived the series that initially streamed on Netflix. 

The animated series was a hilarious and wonderful examination of adult relationships, coupled with whimsical visuals with a feel-good factor. The show received critical acclaim being referred to as one of the best shows of 2019. 

But in July 2019, the series was discontinued after the very first season, sparking controversy over Netflix’s inability to market the show to a wider audience.

Yesterday, 22 May, creator Lisa Hanawalt herself (the cartoonist behind BoJack Horseman’s visual style) took to Twitter to announce that the show would be returning with a new home- Cartoon Network’s late-night programming block Adult Swim and will premiere in 2021. 

Tuca & Bertie starred comedians Tiffany Haddish and Ali Wong as two mismatched bird best friends with a supporting cast including Steven Yeun, John Early, Richard E. Grant and Reggie Watts.

Tuca & Bertie follows “the friendship between two 30-year-old bird-women who live in the same apartment building – Tuca, a cocky, care-free toucan; and Bertie, an anxious, daydreaming songbird.

The move marks a reverse of the more “traditional” model of Netflix picking up canceled network shows, though Tuca & Bertie isn’t the first to pull the reverse-Netflix. Hanawalt also served as the executive producer alongside Raphael Bob-Waksberg, Noel Bright, Steven A. Cohen, and Haddish. 

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