Netflix is taking on a Dr. Seuss classic for its biggest original children’s series bet to date, giving 13-episode order to Green Eggs and Ham from executive producers Jared Stern, Ellen DeGeneres, Jeff Kleeman, Mike Karz, David Dobkin and Warner Bros. Animation. Wreck-It-Ralph scribe Stern, who has worked on The Lego Movie sequel, is writing the adaptation.
It will take three years to make the series — production is slated to begin in May for a 2018 premiere. I hear the project, distributed by Warner Bros. TV, is expected to be the highest-end, most expensive animated program ever produced for television. There are no current plans for DeGeneres, known for her great work in Finding Nemo, to voice a character. She announced the series to her audience at the end of today’s taping of her syndicated talk show, to air tomorrow.
“This show is gonna combine two of my favorite things – Dr. Seuss and binge watching,” she quipped. Here is the video:
Green Eggs and Ham took a long road to the screen. I hear Stern, a animation film writer, originally pitched an idea for a Green Eggs and Ham feature to Warner Bros. years ago. The project was developed with Dobkin, his then-producing partner Kleeman and Karz. For one reason or another, the feature adaptation didn’t take flight. Kleeman switched mediums with a new job running DeGeneres’ WBTV-based company A Very Good Production. He revisited Green Eggs and Ham, this time looking to adapt it as a TV series, an idea that was embraced by DeGeneres. The team was reassembled, with Stern, Kleeman, Dobkin and Karz, whose company Gulfstream Television just inked an overall deal with WBTV, redeveloping the pitch as a 13-episode half-hour series of 6 mini-movies.
With a 45-minute pitch in place, Stern and Kleeman drove down to San Diego to meet with Dr. Seuss’ widow Audrey Geisel. The two were taken to Dr. Seuss’ house where they were given 5 minutes with Geisel. She ended up hearing the full 45-minute pitch and giving them her blessing, along with notes, which the project’s producers incorporated.
The series was taken out to one place only, Netflix, as I hear the team felt that was the only place that could do the series at the budget and timetable (3 years of production) needed for them to fully realize their vision. Numbers are kept under wraps but I have heard $5-6 million an episode mentioned. The deal was completed after months of negotiations.
First published in 1960, Green Eggs and Ham, written using 50 words, follows an unnamed protagonist followed around by the chirpy Sam-I-Am who is pestering him to try green eggs and ham.
Netflix’s team had some fun with the announcement, providing a rhymed press release written as an homage to Dr. Seuss.
NETFLIX ORDERS GREEN EGGS AND HAM
THIRTEEN EPISODES FOR THE WHOLE FAM
In 2018, This Classic Book
Comes to TV with a Whole New Look
Beverly Hills, Calif., April 29, 2015 –
Issued from Netflix headquarters.
Delivered straight to all reporters.
We’d love to share some happy news
based on the rhymes of Dr. Seuss.
Green Eggs and Ham will become a show
and you’re among the first to know.
In this richly animated production,
a 13-episode introduction,
standoffish inventor (Guy, by name)
and Sam-I-Am of worldwide fame,
embark on a cross-country trip
that tests the limits of their friendship.
As they learn to try new things,
they find out what adventure brings.
Of course they also get to eat
that famous green and tasty treat!
Cindy Holland, VP of Original Content for Netflix
threw her quote into the mix:
“We think this will be a hit
Green Eggs and Ham is a perfect fit
for our growing slate of amazing stories
available exclusively in all Netflix territories.
You can stream it on a phone.
You can stream it on your own.
You can stream it on TV.
You can stream it globally.”
Green Eggs and Ham is from A Very Good Production, A Stern Talking To and Gulfstream Television in association with Warner Bros Animation, and distributed by Warner Bros. Television.
ICM Partners reps Ellen DeGeneres, A Very Good Production and Dr. Seuss Enterprises. Stern is repped by Marc Provissiero, Helena Heyman, WME and attorney Karl Austen.