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Streaming Round-up (2/12/21): Mindy Kaling Voicing ‘Velma’ For HBO Max, Netflix Adapts Fantasy Hit ‘Redwall’

Fern Siegel

HBO Max has ordered three animated series for adults, including a 10-episode more adult-themed animated series “Velma,” about the “Scooby-Doo” brainiac, voiced by Mindy Kaling (“The Office”). There is also “Clone High,” a reboot of the hit series, with a two-season order. The final show, “Fired on Mars,” is a workplace comedy voiced by Pete Davidson (“Saturday Night Live”).

Plus, the streamer picked up more seasons of “Close Enough,” as well as an eight-episode order for the half-hour comedy series “RAP SH*T” (working title) from Issa Rae (HBO’s “Insecure” and “A Black Lady Sketch Show”). “RAP” is about high-school friends from Miami who reunite to form a rap group.

Debuting on Nat Geo on March 21 at 9 p.m — a four-night event series “Genius: Aretha.” Award-winner Cynthia Erivo (“The Color Purple”) stars as Aretha Franklin, the “Queen of Soul.” The eight-episode season will air in pairs, two episodes over four nights, with all available to stream on Hulu on March 25.

“Genius: Aretha” will explore “Aretha Franklin’s musical genius and incomparable career, as well as the immeasurable impact and lasting influence she has had on music and culture around the world,” said Nat Geo.

Here’s a look at other deals and upcoming projects:

  • The popular “Redwall” books are being adapted by Netflix into a feature film and TV series. Patrick McHale, creator of Cartoon Network’s “Over the Garden Wall,” will write the feature film. There are 21 books in Brian Jacques’ fantasy series, which have sold more than 30 million copies. All the heroes and villains are animals. The film is based on “Redwall,” the first book.

  • Claire Danes will take the lead in “The Essex Serpent” to stream on Apple TV+. Based on the book by Sarah Perry, the story is set in Victorian England and concerns a local superstition about a mythical creature. Danes takes over the role originally assigned to Keira Knightley, who left the project over concerns about the ongoing pandemic.

  • Alex Gibney is creating a two-part documentary about the opioid crisis in the U.S. for HBO. Over 500,000 people have overdosed on opioids since 2000. The film will include testimony from whistleblowers, insiders and experts. Gibney also directed “The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley.” His latest doc is “The Crime of the Century,” about Big Pharma and government regulations that allowed the abuse of opiates.

  • “Own the Room” streams on Disney+ on March 12. It chronicles five students from various countries — Nepal, Puerto Rico, Kenya, Greece and Venezuela — as they take their business ventures to Macao, China, to compete in the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards. Filmmakers Cristina Costantini and Darren Foster produced the feature.

  • “Game of Thrones” creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss will adapt Richard Powers’ “The Overstory” for Netflix. Hugh Jackman will be an executive producer on the project. It is described as “a sweeping work of activism and resistance about a magnificently inventive world that a handful of people learn how to see and are drawn into.” The duo also has “The Three-Body Problem” and “The Chair” in development with the streamer.

  • Disney Television Studios has a new division to acquire rights to books, podcasts, news stories, theater and other intellectual-property options for its networks, including streamers Disney+ and Hulu. It will be led by Elizabeth Newman, vice president of Disney Television Studio’s new creative acquisitions department, and Jordan Moblo, director of creative acquisitions.

“Genius: Aretha” trailer

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