Annie Murphy, John Cho & Christine Baranski Star In Animated Series ‘Praise Petey’ From Anna Drezen For Freeform As Network Takes Another Crack At Genre

Praise Petey
Courtesy of Freeform

Freeform has ordered an animated comedy series about a New York City It girl starring Annie Murphy, John Cho, Christine Baranski.

The youth-skewing network has handed Praise Petey (w/t) from SNL head writer Anna Drezen, who created the series, and exec producers including Monica Padrick, Mike Judge and Greg Daniels a series order.

It comes as the Disney-owned network takes another crack at animation, having previously developed a number of series in this space.

Praise Petey follows Petey, voiced by Schitt’s Creek star 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.

Cowboy Bebop star Cho voices Bandit, a potential love interest for Petey and a cult member since childhood whose mother was a high-ranking member. The Good Fight’s Baranski voices White, Petey’s mother, a magazine editor, Manhattan society woman and a terrifying perfectionist who’s never eaten, tasted or seen ketchup.

The Flash’s Kiersey Clemons voices Eliza, a bartender at the local bar and reluctant BFF to Petey, working at her new cult. Magnum P.I.’s Amy Hill voices Mae Mae, Bandit’s Southern mama oozing with Southern hospitality who happens to be the right-hand woman of a cult leader. Barry’s Stephen Root voices 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.

Praise Petey will begin production in early 2022.

It is exec produced by Central Park’s Monica Padrick, along with Bandera Entertainment’s Mike Judge, Greg Daniels and Dustin Davis, and ShadowMachine’s Alex Bulkley and Corey Campodonico. The series is produced by 20th Television Animation, with animation by ShadowMachine.

Anna Drezen said, “I can’t believe I get to make this show with so many funny and smart people. 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.”

Jamila Hunter, EVP Programming & Development, Freeform, told Deadline, “It’s kind of the A-team. It was a spec script that we bought and Annie Murphy got attached early on. We’ve had such a great opportunity to attract talent because Anna [Drezen’ is so incredibly funny and smart. Animation has a great opportunity to be funny and thought provoking. That’s what we love about it.”

The network also has two other animated projects in development – SupaShawty Girls, Funkamatic BangBang and Wallflower.

SupaShawty Girls, Funkamatic BangBang comes from writers and executive producers Adamma and Adanne Ebo, and exec producers Tiffany Haddish and Melanie Clark.

It follows Yeze and Tule when a freak laboratory accident turns the twin college students into dopeass superheroes, and 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.

Wallflower comes from writers and executive producers Ben 10 writer Julia Edelman, Solar Opposites co-exec producer Danielle Uhlarik, and New Yorker cartoonist Olivia de Recat.

It 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.

Both projects are produced by 20th Television Animation.

Hunter has said that animation is an area that has done well with its core demo of younger viewers. “We are not solely doing things that are female-focused but the animation space does tend to be dominated by male protagonists so the fact that the first three things that we have coming up in the animatic stage, they do all have young female protagonists, there definitely not your traditional leading women, that’s something we’re very excited about, because I hope it’s something that can make a bit of noise in this landscape.”

Freeform has dabbled in animation development before. In 2019, it was working on millennial comedy Betches, written by Rachel Koller and produced by Emma Roberts, and Woman World, based on a graphic novel, written by Aminder Dhaliwal and exec produced by The Guild’s Felicia Day. Neither project ended up going to series.

Hunter expects these new projects to be the first of many. “We do have a slate of others that aren’t yet at the steps of animatics and artwork and we’re continuing to buy. The goal is for this to continue to be its own pipeline of Gen Z and millennial stories for the Freeform brand,” she said. “We’ve been very aggressive about going out to the town to procure more projects.”

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