×

‘American Ninja Warrior Junior’ Sets Premiere Date, Adds Olympian Laurie Hernandez as Co-Host (EXCLUSIVE)

Universal Kids has set the premiere date for “American Ninja Warrior Junior,” with Olympic gold medal gymnast Laurie Hernandez set to join the show as co-host, Variety has learned exclusively.

Hernandez joins previously announced hosts Matt Iseman and Akbar Gbajabiamila (pictured below), with the “American Ninja Warrior” spinoff set to bow on Oct. 13 at 7 p.m. on Universal Kids, NBCUniversal’s cable network for kids 2-12.

The series features real kids taking on the iconic course. Nearly 200 boy and girl Junior Ninjas from across the U.S. will face off on the same head-to-head courses in three age brackets: 9 & 10, 11 & 12, and 13 & 14 year olds. The courses will feature well-known Ninja Warrior obstacles, including Sonic Swing, Tic Toc, Spin Cycle, and the Warped Wall. Each age bracket will be mentored by All Star Ninja Mentors – Kevin Bull, Drew Drechsel, Natalie Duran, Meagan Martin, Najee Richardson, and Barclay Stockett. Three final winners (one per age bracket) will be crowned the first ever “American Ninja Warrior Junior” champions.

NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior” was nominated for three Emmy’s this year including best reality competition program, outstanding directing for a reality program and outstanding picture editing for a structured or competition reality program.

“At Universal Kids, we see kids as they see themselves and want to share their stories,” said Deirdre Brennan, general manager of Universal Kids. “‘American Ninja Warrior Junior’ celebrates a kid-centric movement that everyone can be a part of and enjoy together. Kids are already deeply connected to the primetime ‘American Ninja Warrior’ on NBC – young people across the US have been caught up in the spirit of this incredible show and they’ve been asking for the opportunity to get more involved. Now they can. ‘American Ninja Warrior Junior’ is fun and inclusive. It’s thrilling to watch but has incredible heart- Matt, Akbar and Laurie capture this feeling so well. This show will encourage and inspire all kids to push their limits and not shy away from challenges, because there is always success in trying. Arthur, Kent and their talented team at A. Smith & Co. have built ‘American Ninja Warrior Junior’ to be something truly special for audiences, from the course design to casting. They’ve embraced the show’s youngest fans with total respect for who these kids are and what they can do.”

The series is based on the global hit “Sasuke” from Tokyo Broadcasting System Television, which is now in its 35th season in Japan. The series is executive produced by A. Smith & Co. Productions founders Arthur Smith and Kent Weed along with Matt Cahoon. Smith is also the CEO of A. Smith & Co. Productions.

“Over the last number of years, we have received an outpouring of letters and videos asking when is there going to be a Ninja show for kids? Well, the time is now! People are going to be amazed at how talented and dedicated these young ninjas are,” said Smith. “To see the looks of determination and delight on their faces, some of whom have been training for half their lives, just captures the magic of the American Ninja Warrior franchise. They’re remarkable, and to know that they’ve been inspired by our show is immensely gratifying.”

AMERICAN NINJA WARRIOR JUNIOR -- Season: 1 -- Pictured: (l-r) Matt Iseman, Laurie Hernandez, Akbar Gbaja-Biamila -- (Photo by: Chris Haston/Universal Kids)
CREDIT: Chris Haston/Universal Kids

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • A Planned Parenthood clinic is seen,

    Variety to Forgo Annual Emmy Party for Donation to Planned Parenthood

    Variety has decided to make a donation to Planned Parenthood in lieu of hosting this year’s annual Emmy Awards nominees party in partnership with Women In Film. The decision comes in response to Planned Parenthood’s Aug. 19 announcement that it will drop funding over the current administration’s “unethical” rule blocking the organization from discussing its [...]

  • Rebel Wilson Isn't It Romantic

    TV News Roundup: Rebel Wilson to Host First Australian Amazon Original Series

    In today’s TV news roundup, the NFL and Pluto TV announce the launch of a new channel, and Rebel Wilson is named as the host of the first Amazon original series to come out of Australia.  CASTING Rebel Wilson is set to host and executive produce the Australian Amazon original series “LOL: Last One Laughing,” the [...]

  • Moffatt Family with the Himba tribe

    U.K.’s Channel 4 Takes British Family to Africa in New Reality Show

    U.K. broadcaster Channel 4 has greenlit new factual entertainment format “The British Tribe Next Door,” which will see a British family spend four weeks with a remote tribe in Namibia. The twist in this format is that, unlike most adventurers, the participants don’t say goodbye to the comforts of their home — instead, they take them with [...]

  • Christian Serratos as Rosita Espinosa - The

    'Walking Dead' Star Christian Serratos in Talks for Selena Series at Netflix

    Christian Serratos is in negotiations to star in the upcoming Netflix series based on the life of Tejano music star Selena Quintanilla, Variety has confirmed with sources. The series was announced back in December and is described as a coming of age story following Selena (Serratos) as her dreams come true and all the heart-wrenching [...]

  • Songs for Screens Powered by Mac

    Songs for Screens: 'American Horror Story' Makes 'Suddenly Last Summer' Sizzle Again

    FX Network’s “American Horror Story” returns for a ninth season next month, and promos for the next chapter of the anticipated series, dubbed ‘AHS 1984,’ have been airing frequently across cable television throughout August. In the short yet effective spot (see below), the Motels’ melancholic, moody “Suddenly Last Summer” plays as aerial footage of an [...]

  • Wanda Sykes, Mike Epps to Star

    Wanda Sykes, Mike Epps to Star in Multi-Camera Comedy Series for Netflix

    Wanda Sykes and Mike Epps are headed to Netflix. The streamer has ordered a multi-camera comedy series starring the two comedians titled “The Upshaws.” The series centers on a working-class Africian American family in Indiana struggling to make it work and make it right without the blueprints to do it. Sykes will executive produce and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content