Ellen DeGeneres’ ‘Woke’ animated show targeting a young preschool audience is being canceled and episodes that were already created and scheduled for release will be “shelved indefinitely” according to reports. Jennifer Skelly, the co-creator of “Little Ellen” found out by reading the news that her show would be removed from HBO Max earlier this month. As Warner Bros. Discovery purges the HBO streaming platform in order to reduce costs, she’s witnessed dozens of other series meet the same chopping block these last few days.
The first two seasons of the animated show centered around a young Ellen DeGeneres are now gone from HBO Max. And not only that but also 20 fully completed, unreleased episodes, comprising the next two seasons, will not be released. “It’s really devastating. I’ve worked on a million things that have never seen the light of day, but it’s pretty rare that you get this far down the pipe, it’s literally done, and it’s still not going to see the light of day,” Skelly said.
Skelly was already told that Warner Bros. Discovery was planning on holding it until 2023, despite the 10-episode Season 3 of “Little Ellen” being set for release in June 2022. The team found out just in August that both Seasons 3 and 4 would be shelved indefinitely, reported Variety.
“In the streaming culture, I don’t know everything about how that process is done. But to me, it seems like, ‘Well you’ve got them. Just flip a switch. They’re done and they’re delivered.’ But obviously, there’s so much corporate stuff going on in terms of what that means for them financially,” Skelly continued.
Warner Bros. Discovery wants to cut back on paying residuals, so that is one of the main reasons for this content bloodbath. But creators aren’t expecting their shows to suddenly disappear when they sign pacts with streamers. The creatives don’t own the distribution rights to their work, and as physical releases are largely a thing of the past, the only way for people to watch many of the recently shelved series is to illegally pirate them. These shows essentially now cease to exist, as a result of Warner Bros. Discovery deciding that certain series are not worth keeping on HBO Max.
“There were writers who had their first episodes in that back 20, and there were directors who got their first shot at directing. We had a lot of firsts on our crew, and they won’t get to see those episodes on TV and see their credit. It’s really tough,” Skelly added.
“I don’t think people are going to avoid working with that studio or even necessarily be able to know what to ask for in the contract to protect themselves, because the parameters in a year-and-a-half are going to be different again,” Skelly said when asked if she thinks creators will be wary about working with Warner Bros. Discovery moving forward.
“Little Ellen” faced turbulence from not only the Warner Bros. Discovery merger throughout its run but also the downfall of DeGeneres, the series’ own subject. “We were a perfect storm of many things because the Ellen brand has also suffered in the last few years. Our show wasn’t going to be getting a ton of love anyway for that reason. We started out at the high point of her career, but by the time it was animated — because it takes forever to get something done in animation — her brand was in a really different place, and her show was ending,” Skelly said.