Sacha Baron Cohen is teaming with King of the Hill duo Greg Daniels and Mike Judge for an animated special called Chelm: The Smartest Place on Earth.
Geared toward younger audiences and set to air on both Cartoon Network and its streaming sibling HBO Max, the special is being written by Nathan For You co-creator Michael Korman and shares the absurdist humor and interpretive questioning that is a nod to Jewish intellectual traditions. The project is set in the mythical “Town of Fools” and originally told in Yiddish. Baron Cohen, who narrates, will present a fresh take on the silly antics and exaggerated conflicts of the town, while also preserving the essence and heart of the classic folktales.
“This pitch was so hilarious; we just knew the HBO Max audience needed to get a dose of this original brand of storytelling. Chelm: The Smartest Place on Earth is a perfect pairing of comedy and satire, and no one does that combination better than Sacha, Greg, Mike and Michael,” said Amy Friedman, head of kids and family programming at Warner Bros. “This unique project will breathe new, hysterical life into the nonsensical Chelmic wisdom that originated from this imaginary city of folks who aren’t quite the sharpest tools in the shed.”
Baron Cohen, Daniels, Judge and Korman are developing the story and will exec produce the special. The comedy hails from Bandera Entertainment, the newly launched animation company formed by Daniels and Judge. Bandera president Dustin Davis will also exec produce.
The goal for Bandera, which was unveiled in January, is to expand animation into as many different genres as live-action originals. Daniels and Judge, who have remained close since King of the Hill ended its run more than 25 years ago, already have more than a dozen animated projects in various stages of development. Those include Freeform’s Praise Petey, Netflix’s Bad Crimes and Exploding Kittens as well as projects from the likes of Silicon Valley alum Zach Woods, Jimmy O. Yang of Daniels’ Space Force, tattoo/graffiti artist Mr. Cartoon, Alison Bechdel’s iconic Dykes to Watch Out For with Carrie Brownstein, and, while they’re not ready to share official details, the return of former Fox favorite King of the Hill. Several others, including a show Daniels describes as “if Breaking Bad was a half-hour comedy,” are in the works.
Daniels and Judge teased Chelm in an exclusive interview with The Hollywood Reporter in which they discussed the launch of Bandera.
Sacha Baron Cohen, Greg Daniels, Mike Judge Set Animated Comedy at HBO Max