By Patrick Hipes
September 13, 2021
Cartoonito, WarnerMedia Kids & Family’s new preschool programming block, launched Monday on HBO Max and Cartoon Network and used the occasion to reveal that it has set casts for a pair of animated projects — a Batwheels series that will feature Ethan Hawke as the voice of Batman and its Mo Willems one-hour rock opera Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Underground Rock Experience. It also greenlighted the first preschool animated series starring Tom and Jerry.
The news came today as part of a live virtual event celebrating the new block, which features a fall slate of 20 new series. Within two years, the company said, the slate of originals will reach 50 shows.
Warner Bros Animation’s Batwheels will feature the voices of Hawke as Batman, AJ Hudson as Duke Thomas/Robin, Leah Lewis as Cassandra Cain/Batgirl and Cobra Kai‘s Jacob Bertrand as Bam the Batmobile in the action-adventure comedy series about the iconic vehicles from the Batman DC comic series. Also in the cast is Jordan Reed as Redbird, Robin’s sports car; Madigan Kacmar as Batgirl’s motorcycle; Noah Bentley as Buff, a Bat-styled monster truck; Lilimar as Batwing; Kimberly D. Brooks as The Batcomputer; and Mick Wingert as Moe, Batman’s robot repairman.
Batwheels is produced by Warner Bros Animation. Sam Register (Looney Tunes Cartoons) serves as executive producer. Michael G. Stern (Doc McStuffins) is co-executive producer, Simon J. Smith (Baymax Dreams) is supervising producer and Steven Fink is producer.
As for Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Underground Rock Experience, the voice cast bringing children’s book author Willems’ story to life will be Jordan Fisher as Wilbur, the sensitive, curious and brave mole rat; Yvette Nicole Brown as Grande, a member of Mole Rat society’s popular crowd and front mole of the Tunnel’s Rock Band; Kate Micucci as Tall, a rule-follower with a heart of gold; Kevin Michael Richardson as Venti, a big lug that needs just two things in life: rocking out with his bandmates and being stark raving naked; and Carol Kane as Grand-Mah, the larger-than-life matriarch of the Mole Rat society.
Also in the cast: Ron Funches as Les Pants the Weather Mole, Thomas Lennon as Stark Naked the News Mole, and Jenna Ushkowitz as the Secret Service Mole.
The one-hour musical, based on Willems’ bestselling book and theatrical experience and hailing from WarnerMedia Kids & Family and Stampede Ventures, will debut sometime next year. Willems and Tom Warburton co-wrote the script with original music by Willems and composer Deborah Wicks La Puma; the songs are produced by Dan Petty, Doug Petty and Michelle Lewis. Willems and Warburton will executive produce alongside Stampede’s Greg Silverman and Jay Judah. Megan Alrutz will produce for the Mo Willems Workshop.
Cartoonito on Monday also said today that it has greenlighted Tom and Jerry Time, to be produced by Warner Bros Animation. Presented as a series of animated musical shorts, the program will introduce preschoolers to the iconic cat and mouse’s comical mischiefs while also teaching key social and emotional skillsets, lessons in independence, as well as early math and literacy skills, and other key preschool educational concepts.
Register is executive producer. Will Finn (Tom and Jerry in New York) serves as showrunner and co-executive producer. Denise Downer (Stillwater) is story editor.