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Disney explores systemic racism with Zoe Washington adaptation

Disney Branded Television is developing an original movie based on the book From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks, which was published in 2020.

Multi-award-winning actress Kerry Washington and Oscar-nominated Pilar Savone, both of Simpson Street Productions, and Effie T Brown of Gamechanger Films are set to executive produce.

The movie centres on a middle-school pupil and aspiring pastry chef who begins to learn about systemic racism when she hears from her prison inmate father who may have been jailed unjustly.

With the help of her grandmother and her friend, she embarks on a quest to set her father free.

“Marks’ book does a beautiful job of delicately weaving together the challenges and triumphs of life and the enormity of social injustice and systemic racism through the lens of an almost-seventh-grader,” said Ayo Davis, executive VP of creative development and strategy at Disney Branded Television.

“This is a perfect example of the type of premium storytelling that will not only entertain but will touch our audience on many levels as they see these topical issues reflected on the screen.”

In related news, Disney has extended its overall deal with Travis Braun while greenlighting the writer and producer’s preschool series about an all-dog construction company.

Pupstruction will air on Disney Junior and comes as the Mouse House taps Braun to continue developing and producing both animated and live-action content across linear and streaming platforms for Disney Branded Television.

The deal includes a first look at any of Braun’s projects for other Disney-owned platforms, including additional streaming and theatrical releases.

Braun is also currently developing an as-yet-unannounced Disney Channel original movie.

Pupstruction centres on an innovative young corgi, who might be the smallest pup in the all-dog construction crew but proves you don’t need big paws to have big dreams or big ideas.

Braun is the series creator and executive producer. Vic Cook (T.O.T.S.) also serves as executive producer and Robyn Brown (Muppet Babies) is coproducer and story editor. Abigail Nesbitt (T.O.T.S.) is supervising director.

The series is produced by Titmouse in association with Disney Junior and is slated to premiere on Disney Junior and Disney+ in 2023.

Braun currently serves as creator and executive producer on Disney Junior series T.O.T.S. His other credits include the Disney Channel limited series Fast Layne and Disney Junior’s Vampirina, Puppy Dog Pals and Muppet Babies.

His past animation writing credits include Netflix’s original series Turbo FAST and the animated short Charlie & Mr Two, which he created for Nickelodeon. He previously worked on the CBS drama Criminal Minds.

Meanwhile, Disney Junior has greenlit a second season of Marvel’s Spidey & His Amazing Friends following the recent launch of the show, which is the first full-length Marvel series for preschoolers.

The show follows the adventures of Peter Parker, Gwen Stacy and Miles Morales as they team up with Hulk, Ms Marvel and Black Panther to defeat foes including Rhino, Doc Ock and Green Goblin and learn that teamwork is the best way to save the day.

The series is produced by Disney Junior and Marvel Entertainment in association with Atomic Cartoons.

Joe D’Ambrosia, senior VP of original programming and general manager at Disney Junior, said: “After just a week and a half into the launch of Marvel’s Spidey & His Amazing Friends we are already seeing how well the series is resonating with preschoolers and their families.”

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