'Doc McStuffins' Creator Leaves Disney for Netflix Overall Deal

Chris Nee - Getty - H 2018
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Chris Nee, the award-winning creator of Disney Junior mega-hits Doc McStuffins and Vampirina, is moving to Netflix.

The streamer has signed a multiple-year overall deal with Nee, who, sources say, also wants to start generating content for adults after creating animated preschool hits for the Disney-owned, kids-focused cable network.

Under the exclusive pact, Nee will write and produce new animated and live-action series for preschool and all audiences. Netflix will also have a first-look option on feature film projects from Nee and her production company, Laughing Wild.

"The beauty of Netflix is that they don’t define me by what I’ve done in the past, but by who they think I can be in the future," Nee said in a statement. "I love that they don’t believe in boxes but rather encourage creators to dream big and swing for the fences creatively. Just as important is my ability to define the culture of my company and double down on finding and nurturing new and diverse voices. My mission is to create work that reflects the world we live in and lend a voice to the storytellers who haven’t always had access. I can’t wait to get started."

Nee spent the past eight years with Disney, for whom she created and served as showrunner on Peabody-winner Doc McStuffins and Vampirina. Both became moneymaking franchises for Disney's various other businesses, with lines of toys, clothing and more. Doc McStuffins, is currently airing its fifth and final season, which wrapped production in January. The series, lauded for featuring a black, female doctor as its lead, spawned a touring exhibit, characters at Disney Parks and Resorts and became one of the most popular preschooler properties among retailers. The series paved the way for Nee's Vampirina, which was recently renewed for a third season.

"After eight very successful years with Doc McStuffins and Vampirina, Chris told Disney Junior executives that she wants to focus her career on developing content for Adults 18-49, a 'general audience,'" a Disney spokesman said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. "As mutually beneficial as our long association has been, we understand her desire to branch out so didn’t stand in the way of her new pursuits."  

With the Netflix pact, Nee will reduce her role on Vampirina (she'll be credited as a consulting producer) and see her staff take over the series. To that end, Travis Braun — who has written multiple episodes of the Daytime Emmy-nominated series — recently inked an overall deal with Disney Channels Worldwide. That's one of at least three new overall deals that Disney's kid-focused cable networks has inked in the past few months as Netflix continues to be aggressive in building up its roster of children's programming and top creators in both the live-action and animated space. Along with Braun, Disney Channel recently inked exclusive overall deals with Sofia the First and Elena of Avalor's Craig Gerber and 10-year network veteran Eric Friedman (Bizaardvark).

Still, Nee's exit is a loss for Disney Channel, which in the past few years also saw Alex Hirsch, the award-winning creator of its Gravity Falls, depart for an overall deal at Fox before signing what sources say is a rich exclusive pact with Netflix in August as part of his larger goal of creating adult animated series. (Neither Nee, nor Hirsch had an overall with Disney at the time of their departures.)

"Chris is an absolute master at crafting characters that kids want to spend time with and telling stories that are representative of all different types of families and communities," Netflix vp kids and family Melissa Cobb said. "She is among the very best and most prolific artists working in kids content today and we are so honored that Chris has chosen to make Netflix her creative home."

For Netflix, the pact arrives not long after the streamer is poised to invest in the $1 billion range to create a kids-focused universe after securing rights to famed author Roald Dahl's works including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and more. Netflix is also doubling down on animation, both for kids and adults, and is launching an in-house studio to scale back on outsourcing the costly animation process to third-party companies as part of a larger goal to own and produce all of its content.

Nee, meanwhile, won an Emmy for her work on Peabody winner Little Bill. She also has experience in the documentary and unscripted space, and was a producer on the first season of Discovery hit Deadliest Catch, among others. She started her career at Sesame Street International and worked for the Sesame Workshop. Nee is repped by UTA.