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WIRE Buzz: SpongeBob musical airing live on Nick; Studio Ghibli to stream on HBO Max; and more

By Josh Weiss
SpongeBob the musical

Nickelodeon's award-winning SpongeBob SquarePants musical will enjoy a live performance on television this December, the kid-friendly network announced today.

“What better way to celebrate the 20th anniversary of SpongeBob SquarePants than to bring this wildly imaginative Broadway musical to Nickelodeon for a wider audience?" said Rob Bagshaw, Executive Vice President of Nickelodeon Live Action Unscripted and Live Events. "We could not be more excited that fans and families of all ages will now have the opportunity to experience live actors portraying these beloved characters in a whole new way with The SpongeBob Musical: Live on Stage!"

Currently touring North America, the SpongeBob musical spent about a year at Broadway's Palace Theater. It ended up tying with the stage production of Mean Girls for the most Tony nominations at the 72nd ceremony last year. In addition to a Tony win for Best Scenic Design of a Musical, it has also won Outer Critics Circle Awards and Drama Desk Awards.

“I’m so thrilled to be able to revisit the show in a new light and with our original cast members," said director Tina Landau. "The whole creative [team] and I are excited to go back into the world of Bikini Bottom and discover its new life in TV broadcast form. But above all, I’m deeply grateful for the opportunity to share the joy and spirit of our show with a wider audience. That’s what matters most to me – the joy.”

NBC kickstarted the trend of live musical performances, a format now being emulated by Nick and ABC.

The films of Studio Ghibli are coming to the world of streaming. Today, HBO Max announced that it had gained the exclusive U.S. rights to all of the beautifully-crafted movies conceived by the mind of famed Japanese animator, Hayao Miyazaki.

Spirited AwayMy Neighbor TotoroPrincess MononokeHowl’s Moving CastleKiki’s Delivery Service, and more will be available to stream when the service launches in the spring of 2020.

"Studio Ghibli films are visually breathtaking, completely immersive experiences," said Kevin Reilly, Chief Content Officer, HBO Max and President, TNT, TBS, and truTV. “Exciting, enchanting, and deeply humanistic, these wonderful films have captured people’s hearts around the world, and we are proud to showcase them in an accessible way for even more fans through HBO Max."

My Neighbor Totoro

"We are excited to be working with HBO Max to bring the complete collection of Studio Ghibli films to streaming audiences in the U.S. As a premium content brand, HBO Max is an ideal home for our films,” added Koji Hoshino, Chairman of Studio Ghibli. “Upon launch of the service this spring, existing Ghibli fans will be able enjoy their favorites and delve deeper into the library, while whole new audiences will be able to discover our films for the first time.”

This is a big notch in HBO Max's belt. With the world of streaming services about to explode in the coming months, each platform must have enough incentives (be it original or syndicated programming) to entice subscribers to shell out for the service. In addition to new series like DMZ and Secrets of the Mogwai, HBO Max will also have access to the entire WarnerMedia library.

With a few weeks to go until Disney+ goes live around the world, the streaming service is getting folks excited for its mixture of original programming and massive back catalog of existing properties. Along with The Mandalorian and Marvel's Hero Project, a docu-series about the Imagineers at Disney's theme parks, will also make its global premiere on Tuesday, Nov. 12.

“The story of Walt Disney has been told. The story of animation has been told. But the story of Imagineering lies deep within the essence of Disney, starting with its founder, Walt himself,” reads the official synopsis revealed by Entertainment Weekly. “Three narrative threads intertwine through the decades — the spirit of the designers, the skill of the craft, and the drama of the theme park business.”

Check out the trailer below:

The Imagineering Story will cover the creation of Disney Parks' latest creation, Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge.