A new musical comedy series developed by Cartoon Network Studios about two gifted dancers will have a decidedly Chicago tone.
Cartoon Network Studios will collaborate with Academy Award-winning filmmaker and Northwest Side native Matthew A. Cherry and DePaul alumnus Chaz Bottoms to create “Battu,” an animated series following the lives of two dancers in Chicago — Otis and Jada — whose independent streak runs afoul of mainstream dance gatekeepers.
The project is based on Bottoms’ animated short film, “Battu: An Animated Musical,” that is currently in production.
Bottoms met Cherry while the Loyola Academy alumnus was in the middle of a press tour for “Hair Love,” his short film that won an Oscar last year.
Cherry says “Battu” will be Chicago-based, as will be “Young Love,” his animated series based on the aforementioned short film. “Young Love” is scheduled to debut on HBO Max in 2022.
“When we had that guy who shall not be named that was in office [President Donald Trump], Chicago was always on his lips, and it was always a negative depiction,” said Cherry. “Being from the city [we’re] trying to center projects that speak to a level of a more positive representation of the city — and all it represents. Hardworking individuals, strong middle class, and a lot of incredible contributions like art, entertainment, dance, and hip hop. I think the show really represents all of that.”
Bottoms, a director, animator, writer and owner of CBA Studios, envisions the series, like Cherry, as a tribute to the city.
“Thinking ahead, I knew I was moving to Los Angeles, and I was feeling down that I was leaving the city of Chicago because that’s been my home for the past five years,” said Bottoms. “I wanted to create a project that was — in a lot of ways — the love letter to the city’s creatives who live there. The hustle of the people that are from Chicago.
“When it comes to musicals in Black representation and animation, it was really important for me to show diversity across the board. Dancers come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. I wanted to try to create a mosaic of Chicago that could be fun and inviting. Hopefully, we get the audience to see Chicago through my eyes and how I see the city.”