Freeform is getting into animation for the first time, with the basic cabler ordering the series “Praise Petey” while also announcing two more animated shows into development.
“Praise Petey” hails from “SNL” writer Anna Drezen with “Schitt’s Creek” star Annie Murphy in the lead role. The show follows Petey (Murphy), a New York City “it” girl who has it all until her life comes crashing down around her. As luck would have it, a mysterious gift from her father gives her a new lease on life: she’s going to “lean into” modernizing his small-town cult. The series will begin production in early 2022.
The voice cast also includes: John Cho (“Cowboy Bebop”) as Bandit, a potential love interest for Petey and a cult member since childhood whose mother was a high-ranking member; Kiersey Clemons (“The Flash”) as Eliza, a bartender at the local bar and reluctant BFF to Petey, working at her new cult; Christine Baranski (“The Good Fight”) as White, Petey’s mother. She’s a magazine editor, Manhattan society woman and a terrifying perfectionist who’s never eaten, tasted or seen ketchup; Amy Hill (“Magnum P.I.”) as Mae Mae, Bandit’s Southern mama oozing with Southern hospitality who happens to be the right-hand woman of a cult leader; Stephen Root (“Barry”) as Petey’s loving father, a charming, homespun, stone-cold cult leader with some pretty unique ideas about meditation, space, jumping up and down in a field, and how his bloodline is necessary for the salvation of mankind. He may or may not be dead.
Drezen created the series and serves as executive producer. Monica Padrick also executive produces along with Bandera Entertainment’s Mike Judge, Greg Daniels and Dustin Davis as well as ShadowMachine’s Alex Bulkley and Corey Campodonico. The series is produced by 20th Television Animation, with animation by ShadowMachine.
“I can’t believe I get to make this show with so many funny and smart people,” Drezen said. “Getting to work with Monica, Bandera, Freeform, ShadowMachine, 20th Television Animation and this amazing cast has been a blast and dream — a bleam. This rules.”
“Anna Drezen’s comedic voice and her POV on life and pop culture are perfect for Freeform,” said Jamila Hunter, executive vice president of programming and development for Freeform. “Entering the animation space in partnership with prolific creators like Mike, Greg, Anna, Monica and Dustin is like arriving at a party with the coolest kids in town. We can’t wait to share their hilarious show with our audience.”
“It felt like such a loud way to get into animation with a female protagonist, which you don’t often see in the animation space. It does tend to be a little bit more male dominated,” Hunter continued in an interview with Variety. “Putting the people that are often on the fringes in the leading seat and letting them be drivers of comedy and have funny experiences is very much what we at Freeform are about and that’s what our audience wants from us.”
Drezen is repped by WME, Artists First and Hansen, Jacobson, Teller.
According to Hunter, there has been a push to get into the animation space at Freeform for some time, even prior to her arrival in 2019.
“Our brand focuses on a Gen Z and Millennial audience and animation is a huge space for them,” she said. “So it is something that predates my time at Freeform, the team was working on building an animation slate…The things that we’re now talking about are honestly projects that have been in the works for quite a while that are starting to come to fruition.”
Freeform also announced development of two other animated comedies, both of which will also be produced by 20th TV Animation.
“SupaShawty Girls, Funkamatic BangBang” comes from writers and executive producers Adamma & Adanne Ebo, with Tiffany Haddish and Melanie Clark also executive producing. The show follows Yeze and Tule when a freak laboratory accident turns the twin college students into superheroes. They must learn to manage their brand new super-powered lives with the growing pains of adulthood. Unfortunately for humanity, they’d actually rather kick it than kick butt & save the world.
There is also “Wallflower” from writers and executive producers Julia Edelman, Danielle Uhlarik, and Olivia de Recat. The show follows Ren, a quick-witted introvert who has the power to communicate with her houseplants. With the misguided help of her charming, but dysfunctional ensemble of greenery, Ren clumsily navigates the many anxieties of being in your twenties.