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Facebook Orders Animated Comedy Series Starring Anna Kendrick and Zac Efron, Sets ‘Real World’ Reboot Fan Voting

Facebook’s latest bid to drive viewers to its Watch video platform? A cartoon set in prehistoric times starring Anna Kendrick and Zac Efron.

The social giant has greenlit animated comedy series “Human Discoveries” starring Kendrick (“Pitch Perfect,” “Up in the Air”) and Efron (“The Greatest Showman,” “High School Musical”). The show is slated to debut on Facebook Watch later in 2019.

Facebook also is rolling out new fan-voting features for its reboot of MTV’s “The Real World” reality show, with all-new seasons in the U.S., Mexico and Thailand set to premiere this spring. Beginning this week, Facebook users will be able to vote on one cast member to enter each of the new “Real World” houses. In addition, it’s bringing back three full past seasons of “The Real World” to Facebook Watch, with a fan vote determining which prior seasons will be available.

Facebook’s original-content strategy is geared around programming that has the potential to build fan communities through interactive social features like Groups and Watch Parties, said Matthew Henick, the company’s head of content planning and strategy.

“Investing in content that drives meaningful interactions is core to our strategy,” Henick said. “Shows like ‘The Real World’ and ‘Human Discoveries’ not only have the potential to be buzz-worthy and immersive, but their concepts also make it possible to leverage the social fabric of Facebook in unique and creative ways.”

Over a year into the original-entertainment push, it’s not clear how well Watch is working. Facebook, which first launched Watch in August 2017 and expanded it internationally last summer, claims the service is gaining traction. As of late last year, over 75 million Facebook users worldwide — 5% of its base — spent at least one minute per day on Watch and on average streamed 20 minutes of video daily, according to the company. (The figures aren’t independently verified.)

For now, Facebook continues to spend on original content — hoping for a breakout viral hit.

“Human Discoveries” is co-produced by ShadowMachine and Ninjas Runnin’ Wild (Zac Efron’s production shingle). ShadowMachine, the production house behind shows including “BoJack Horseman” and “Robot Chicken,” is currently producing Guillermo del Toro’s stop-motion animated musical feature “Pinocchio” for Netflix.

The show follows a group of friends at the dawn of human civilization. They’re the first to discover innovations like fire and the wheel — as well as humanity’s other best and worst breakthroughs, including art, alcohol, fashion, racism… and, confusingly for the parties involved, monogamy. In addition to Efron and Kendrick, “Human Discoveries” also stars Lamorne Morris, Jillian Bell, Paul Scheer and Lisa Kudrow.

“Human Discoveries” was created by Chris Bruno and David Howard Lee. It’s executive produced by Kirk J. Rudell, Bruno, Lee, Kendrick, Efron, Jason Barrett, Michael Simkin, and ShadowMachine’s Corey Campodonico and Alex Bulkley.

“With ‘Human Discoveries,’ we’ve assembled an incredible creative team and we’re proud to join forces with such uniquely funny and smart collaborators as Zac and Anna,” Campodonico said in a statement.

Meanwhile, for “The Real World” three new iterations, the seventh and final cast members for the U.S., Mexico and Thailand shows will be picked based on Facebook poll results on the show’s page at facebook.com/realworld. The U.S. casting poll opens this week, while voting for Mexico and Thailand will kick off the week of March 11.

Fans also will help pick which three full seasons of “The Real World” will be released on Facebook Watch. Voting starts March 4 for a three-week period in three categories: “Favorite Season” — New York (season 1), San Francisco (season 3), or Austin (season 16); “Hottest Cast” — London (season 4), Key West (season 17), or Ex-Plosion (season 29); and “Most Controversial Season” — Los Angeles (season 2), Las Vegas (season 12), or Portland (season 28). The seasons with the most votes will be announced on March 25 and will be available to view on Facebook Watch leading up to the new seasons’ premieres.

“The Real World” reboots for Facebook Watch are co-produced by MTV Studios and Bunim/Murray Productions, which created the original format for the show that first debuted on MTV in 1992 — and spawned the reality-TV genre.

As the new “Real World” series roll out, Facebook users will have the opportunity to connect directly with the cast members with Facebook Live, Groups and Watch Party. Each region’s “Real World” season will feature weekly scene drops, Facebook Stories and full episodes.

“The Real World” reboots and “Human Discoveries” join Facebook’s lineup of other Watch originals. Scripted shows include teen drama “Five Points” from Kerry Washington; black comedy “Queen America” starring Catherine Zeta-Jones; fairy-tale-inspired anthology series “Sacred Lies”; and drama “Sorry For Your Loss” starring Elizabeth Olsen. Unscripted fare includes Jada Pinkett Smith’s “Red Table Talk” talk show, Mike Rowe’s “Returning the Favor” and influencer Huda Kattan’s reality show “Huda Boss.”

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