HBO Max Reveals Upcoming Live-Action Kids’ Slate


HBO Max has unveiled its upcoming live-action kids’ slate, which includes a pair of American Girl specials based on Mattel’s doll and book brand.

The first special, American Girl: Corinne Tan (working title), centers on the brand’s 2022 Girl of the Year, 13-year-old ski enthusiast Corinne, as she navigates her parents’ recent divorce and her new blended family. It is slated to debut in the U.S. in December on Cartoon Network first, then on HBO Max the following day.

The live-action American Girl special is directed by Angela Tortu (Fresh Off the Boat) and stars Miya Cech (Marvelous and the Black Hole, The Astronauts, Are You Afraid of the Dark), Kai Cech (The Longest Sleep) and Michelle Krusiec (Hollywood, Hawaii Five-O). It is being produced by MarVista Entertainment and written by May Chan (Surfside Girls, The Astronauts, An American Girl Story: Ivy & Julie 1976).

The second American Girl special will debut in 2023.

“Mattel Television is excited to partner with HBO Max and Cartoon Network to introduce our new American Girl special featuring  the 2022 Girl of the Year, Corinne Tan,” said Fred Soulie, senior VP and general manager of Mattel Television. “Corinne is a strong role model, encouraging viewers to be their true, authentic selves. We are proud to bring her rich story to life and inspire television audiences of all ages.”

“This diverse portfolio of live-action projects captures the sweetness, the funniness, the chaos and the messy imperfect genius of growing up and becoming who you are,”  said Amy Friedman, head of kids and family programming at Warner Bros. “Let’s face it, most of us can still relate to all those feelings, which makes this content so resonant. These projects are a reflection of our commitment to bring in more girls and teens to HBO Max and Cartoon Network with authentic, fun, courageous and emotional stories that speak to kids’ lives now.”

Hannah Pillemer, executive VP of creative affairs at MarVista, added, “MarVista is proud to join Mattel Television and HBO Max in bringing the American Girl franchise to life with American Girl: Corinne Tan. Corrine’s story really resonated with our team as an inspiring reflection of what many young adult females are grappling with today. Set against the beautiful backdrop of a Colorado ski town, Corinne perseveres through challenging changes in her family dynamic with help from her younger sister Gwynn and a spirited search and rescue pup named Flurry. What’s not to love?”

Also on HBO Max’s upcoming live-action slate is Home Sweet Rome, a music-filled comedy from three-time Emmy nominee Michael Poryes, creator of Hannah Montana and That’s So Raven. The series sees 13-year-old Lucy move from California to Rome with her dad and stepmom, who happens to be an Italian pop star. It is being developed and written by Degrassi alums Matt Huether and Courtney Jane Walker and produced by Italy’s Red Monk Studio, a Superprod Group company, and Canada’s First Generation Films.

“Michael Poryes has created beloved global teen and tween hits from Hannah Montana to That’s So Raven,” said Friedman. “Home Sweet Rome will add to that list of iconic female leads, and this time… in Rome! We’ll explore all the most authentic and hilarious tween issues like new friends, new stepmom, new life, against the beautiful backdrop of the food, fun and fashion of Rome and shot entirely on location. I have never had more executives insist on a set visit.”

Poryes said, “Coming up with the idea to follow this young girl as she’s adjusting to a new culture where everything is different felt like a perfect narrative to capture the humor and awkwardness of this pivotal age. I’m looking forward to seeing where Matt and Courtney take Lucy’s challenging story as they explore these funny, heartwarming moments of unfamiliar situations and attitudes and how they all boil down to universal emotional truths of being a young teen.”

HBO Max has also acquired a trio of live-action series, including Hank Zipzer, My Babysitter’s a Vampire and The Next Step.

Based on the New York Times best-selling book series Hank Zipzer: The World’s Greatest Underachiever co-written by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver, Hank Zipzer centers on a smart and resourceful boy with dyslexia. All three seasons will debut on HBO Max on May 13.

My Babysitter’s a Vampire, produced by Toronto-based Fresh TV and distributed globally by Boat Rocker, sees a boy and his friends get dragged into a world of supernatural battles when it turns out his babysitter is half-vampire. It is slated to bow on HBO Max in October.

Lastly, HBO Max acquired the Boat Rocker-produced The Next Step, which follows the highs and lows of an exceptional group of dancers as they learn to bet on themselves. Seasons five through seven will become available on the streamer this summer, with season eight set to premiere in 2023.