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Apple is expected to have a substantial lineup of original programming arriving this fall, but it appears that at least some of the fruits of the company’s exclusive content deals will be ready to go even sooner.
Late last year, Apple signed a deal with Canadian broadcaster DHX Media, which now owns a controlling stake in the Peanuts franchise, to produce new specials and short films about Snoopy, Charlie Brown, and the rest of the Peanuts gang, with Apple reportedly looking to use the characters to create specials to build enthusiasm for STEM topics.
Even at the time, there were reports of a short that would star “astronaut Snoopy,” and now, according to Deadline, it looks like Apple will be releasing the first of these projects next month. According to the report, Peanuts has teamed with Morgan Neville and Imagine Documentaries to produce Peanuts in Space: Secrets of Apollo 10, a documentary short that will investigate Snoopy’s secret life as a world-famous astronaut — no doubt the direction his career path went in after he finally defeated the Red Baron.
The special is expected to “lightly spoof” the 1969 NASA Apollo 10 mission, and will also feature Imagine’s Ron Howard portraying himself, and Jeff Goldblum as a self-published NASA historian searching for the truth about Snoopy’s top-secret involvement in the mission. In actual fact, the Apollo 10 mission saw the lunar module skim the surface of the moon as a preliminary recon mission to scout a site for the famous Apollo 11 moon landing.
However, what may come as a surprise to some is that the mission already had a connection to the Peanuts gang: NASA and the crew — astronauts Gene Cernan, John Young, and Thomas Stafford — named the lunar module “Snoopy” since it was expected to “snoop around” the lunar surface, and by extension dubbed the command module “Charlie Brown.” In fact, NASA had approached Peanuts creator Charles Schultz a couple of years earlier to get permission to use Snoopy on the Agency’s safety materials, and in 1968 introduce the “Silver Snoopy” award to recognize employees and contractors for outstanding achievements in safety and mission success.
Schulz considered it a huge honour for his characters to be featured by NASA, and a new “Space Act Agreement” with DHX Media last year renewed the partnership between Schultz’s wunderkinds and the Space Agency, with a new focus on inspiring a passion for space exploration and STEM among kids.
So creating a documentary that places Snoopy in the role of an astronaut for the upcoming 50th anniversary of the mission, which occurred on May 22, 1969, seems like a particularly good fit both for the Peanuts gang and for Apple’s push to create educational and family-friendly content for its new TV service.
Of course, Apple still plans its major slate of original TV content in the fall, and this particular special is undoubtedly an exception due to the impending anniversary of the original mission. We’re fairly certain it’s not going to be the first Peanuts special we’ll see from Apple, however, and the company is also working on a slate of children’s shows as a result of a deal it signed with Sesame Workshop last year.