While it’s not surprising for a show about wrestlers to be breaking bones in the ring, it is unique for them to also be breaking down DEI barriers.
When the animation studio behind the Web3 show “The Gimmicks” took stock of fan response to their first season, they realized they had a breakout character on their hands. Since the show is fueled by fan participation, a clear fan favorite was Chico el Luchador, voiced by wrestling champion, Rocky Romero. Chico is beloved just as much for his relentless optimism as his backbreaking moves in the ring. The second season, called “House of Chico,” continues “The Gimmicks” world, with a focus on Chico’s family and homeland, in an industry first Latino, adult-animated comedy telenovela.
MarComm External Relations is hosting a panel discussion featuring “The Gimmicks” creators on Dec. 1 at the Playa Vista Campus.
“We realized that there wasn’t an adult comedy show with Latinx cast and creators,” said Luisa Huang, COO and co-founder of Toonstar. “We invited Latino influencers to join the team, many of them first-timers to animation. The cast and crew are Latinx, and the community is excited about the direction they chose. This season represents the potential of Web3 to bring meaningful opportunities to a new generation of storytellers.”
“The Gimmicks” is a Web3 enabled, community-driven animated NFT story universe that puts control in the hands of the creators and the NFT holders. Described as “South Park meets WWE,” the adult animated comedy series centers on a group of washed-up wrestlers trying to regain their status. Written by comedy veterans “The Daves” – Dave Ihlenfeld and David Wright (“Family Guy,” “The Simpsons”) – “The Gimmicks” utilizes NFT technology to give fans a chance to participate in character and storyline development. At the end of each episode, a “choose your own adventure” option lets NFT holders influence future episodes and character arcs.
“As veterans in the animation industry, we know how invested the audience can get in storylines and characters,” said John Attanasio ’94, Toonstar’s CEO and co-founder. “Working on the blockchain gives us a chance to engage with the community in ways never possible before. This kind of engagement with the community is what mainstream Hollywood is yearning for now.”
For an LMU alumnus with bachelor’s degrees in business and philosophy, it’s not surprising that he would be involved in such a groundbreaking endeavor. But his early career is rooted in traditional media, working in the studio system for such companies as Warner Bros and Dreamworks. He and future partner Luisa Huang hatched initial plans for super-fans to create their own content by launching an internal incubator to create digital content at Warner Bros. The initiative didn’t get off the ground as studios were dismissive of emerging digital communities like YouTube, which have come to dominate audience attention.
While experimenting with Web2 animation, they quickly saw Web3’s potential to drive audience participation and to launch new creators. “Web3 at its highest level is not about day trading and cash grabs. It will use blockchain technology to take interactive storytelling and immersive community experiences to a whole new level,” said Attanasio. “Web3 will fundamentally transform how stories are produced and experienced. And for studios, Web3’s unique interactive possibilities through NFT tokens means direct community building, deep engagement, and ongoing fan participation.”
As Chico’s story unfolds during its second season, “The Gimmicks” innovative and diverse creators continue to break down barriers, both in DEI and in the way we watch the show. And, of course, they still break plenty of bones.
Register here to Join LMU experts and Web3 entertainment studio Toonstar co-founders for a panel discussion on the future of the industry for a live panel discussion Thursday, Dec. 1 at
6 p.m. at the LMU Playa Vista Campus. The discussion will be moderated by Carol Costello, LMU special advisor, journalism instructor, and former CNN anchor. Panelists include: John Attanasio ’94 and Luisa Huang, co-founders of Toonstar; Rochelle Webb, clinical assistant professor of entrepreneurship at LMU College of Business Administration; and Jay Williams, senior lecturer at LMU School of Film and Television.