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Build-A-Bear Characters Inspire Animated Series ‘Kabu’ Based On Kawaii Culture; Mike Mariano Among Writing Team

EXCLUSIVE: Build-A-Bear’s stuffed animal characters have inspired development of animated series Kabu.

Build-A-Bear Entertainment, Foundation Media Partners and Montreal toon maker Laughing Dragon Studios are working up a 10-part show, aimed at 7-11s, and release an exclusive first look at the upcoming Kidscreen Summit.

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Mike Mariano, writer and producer on network sitcoms such as Raising Hope and My Name is Earl, is writing alongside Drew Gormley (Family Guy), Claire Ross Dunn (Degrassi: The Next Generation, Nina’s World), Brian Clark (Glisten and the Merry Mission) and Monica Kelly (Cocomelon).

Build-A-Bear President and CEO Sharon Price John and Foundation Media CEO Patrick Hughes executive producing the series.

The show is billed as a “stylized, colorful new offering with a fun ensemble cast of a variety of ‘stuffed animal’ friends,” with the creative influenced by the popularity of kawaii styling and each episode utilizing “an entertaining, sometimes ‘wacky’ way of exploring concepts ranging from creative problem solving to friendship where the viewer goes on adventures with the cadre of critters who learn that working together and staying positive leads to the best result.”

The ensemble cast will include actors voicing popular and new Build-A-Bear characters.

Diamond White (Moon Girl, Boo!: A Madea Halloween) plays Bearnice, Sean Giambrone (The Goldbergs, Ralph Breaks the Internet) is Bearnard, social media personality Thomas Sanders is Bearemy, Priah Ferguson (Stranger Things, The Curse of Bride Hollow) is Catrina, Ryan Potter (Big Hero 6, Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous) is Monkgomery, Brec Bassinger (StarGirl, VC Andrews’s Dawn) is Pawlette, Lilah Fitzgerald (Monster High, Lucky Hank) is Pandamona, Margie Mays (American Idol, Call Me Kat) is Poodella and Frankie McNellis (Honey Girls, 13: The Musical, Blackish) is Catlynn.

Diamond White is represented by Objectively Good and CESD Talent Agency. Brec Bassinger is represented by Work Management and Industry Entertainment. Lilah Fitzgerald is represented by Premiere Talent Management. Sean Giambrone is represented by Thruline and CESD Talent Agency. Thomas Sanders is represented by Direct Artists Management and CESD Talent Agency. Priah Ferguson is represented by Range Media Partners and CESD Talent Agency. Ryan Potter is represented by CESD Talent Agency. Frankie McNellis is represented by Mattie Management and Stewart Talent. Margie Mays is represented by Artists & Representatives.

Kabu is the first animated series from Build-A-Bear Workshop’s multi-year strategic partnership with Foundation Media Partners, which spans marketing and aims to leverage the awareness and power of the Build-A-Bear brand to increase consumer engagement and business opportunities.

“We are thrilled with this new animated series which is designed to have some of the fun tone of Spongebob with the spontaneity of Amazing World of Gumball to create a world of entertaining twists and surprises while still delivering a wholesome message,” said Patrick Hughes, CEO and founder of Foundation Media. “The multi-level smart humor, impressive cast and amazing perfect balance of writers create an amazing co-viewing experience.”

Foundation’s projects include The Bad Guys, which is based on Aaron Blabey’s book franchise and was released by Dreamworks Animation and Universal Pictures; Thelma the Unicorn, another Blabey adaptation currently in production with Jared Hess for Netflix.

For Build-A-Bear, the show comes as part of a push into branded entertainment that has included live-action music-based movie Honey Girls, animated theatrical release Glisten and the Merry Mission and doc Unstuffed: A Build-A-Bear Story, a pic from director Taylor Morden that we first told you about in September.

“As an organization grounded in over 25 years of creating memorable moments with ‘retail-tainment,’ entertainment is a natural extension for the brand,” said John. “The provision of new and fun ways to engage with fans and guests on multiple levels across the organization’s eco-system is expected to be a value enhancing proposition.”

Kabu means ‘cub’ in Japan’s kawaii culture, which celebrates the cutesy and childlike.

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