News

GOLD MEDAL PARALYMPIAN WINNER VICTORIA ARLEN JOINS UNIVERSAL KIDS’ “AMERICAN NINJA WARRIOR JUNIOR” AS A CO-HOST FOR SEASON TWO

FAN FAVORITE HOSTS MATT ISEMAN AND AKBAR GBAJABIAMILA RETURN

Inspiring Kids Competition Series Begins Production in July

New York, NYJuly 8, 2019Universal Kids, the TV network that playfully celebrates kids’ everyday adventures, has tapped Victoria Arlen, former champion Paralympian swimmer and TV broadcaster, to co-host season two of American Ninja Warrior Junior with hosts Matt Iseman and Akbar Gbajabiamila. Following the success of season one, this next generation of “American Ninja Warrior” is giving young fans another opportunity to compete in this worldwide phenomenon for a chance to be crowned Junior Champion. American Ninja Warrior Junior” production commences in July in Los Angeles, CA and will premiere in early 2020.

"I am so honored to join the ‘American Ninja Warrior Junior’ family,’ said Victoria Arlen. “I’m a longtime fan of ‘American Ninja Warrior’ and I’m excited to co-host alongside the amazingly talented Matt and Akbar. To share and celebrate these remarkable kids' stories is inspiring and a tremendous honor. I can't wait to cheer them on!"

American Ninja Warrior Junior shows real kid athletes taking on the iconic course with dedication and skill. More than 140 boy and girl Junior Ninjas from across the U.S. will face off on head-to-head courses in three age brackets: 9 & 10, 11 & 12, and 13 & 14 year-olds. The courses will feature brand new iconic Ninja Warrior obstacles and each age bracket will be mentored by All-Star Ninja Mentors - Drew Drechsel, Najee Richardson, Barclay Stockett, Meagan Martin, Grant McCartney, and Jessie Graff. Three final winners (one per age bracket) will be crowned American Ninja Warrior Junior Champions.

"Victoria Arlen exemplifies the 'American Ninja Warrior Junior' spirit," said Arthur Smith, CEO of A. Smith & Co. Productions and Executive Producer of the 'American Ninja Warrior' franchise. "In this brand new season, she will use her unique voice and life experience to inspire a new generation. Get ready to witness the remarkable feats that kids can accomplish, defying the odds of what is possible and striving to be their best."

About Victoria Arlen

ESPN broadcaster and Paralympian swimmer, Victoria Arlen defines perseverance. At the age of eleven when she developed Transverse Myelitis and Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis leading her to slip into a vegetative state where she spent four years being written off as a lost cause. In 2010 she began the nearly impossible fight back to life and learned how to speak, eat and move all over again. Defying the odds, Arlen is fully recovered. She won a Gold medal in swimming in the 2012 Paralympic Games before joining ESPN as one of their youngest on air talents. In 2018, she chronicled her life’s journey in the book “Locked In” and was the subject of the ESPN Films documentary of the same name that premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. She also continues to be the face of Jockey, a relationship that also got under way in 2018.

American Ninja Warrior Junior was nominated for three Daytime Emmys in 2019: Outstanding Children or Family Viewing Series, Outstanding Daytime Promotional Announcement – Topical, and Outstanding Technical Team. The American Ninja Warrior series is based on the global hit “Sasuke” from Tokyo Broadcasting System Television, which has had 36 seasons in Japan. The series is executive produced by A. Smith & Co. Productions founders Arthur Smith and Kent Weed along with Matt Cahoon.

For more information please visit www.universalkids.com and join the conversation at #ANWJR.

About A. Smith & Co. Productions

A. Smith & Co. Productions creates some of the most innovative, highly rated and high-quality programming for the domestic and international television marketplace. The company has produced more than 4,500 hours of award-winning programming, with budgets totaling well over one billion dollars across more than 50 networks and platforms. Current productions include “American Ninja Warrior,” "The Titan Games," “American Ninja Warrior Junior,” American Ninja Warrior: Ninja vs. Ninja,” “Hell’s Kitchen,” “Mental Samurai,” “Unsung,” “Inside the Label,” “SciJinks,” “NFL Pro Bowl Skills Showdown,” “The Dunk King” and “Death by Magic.” Past hits include “Kitchen Nightmares,” “Ellen’s Design Challenge,” “Full Throttle Saloon,” “Wizard Wars,” “Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura,” “UFC Countdown,” “Joe Rogan Questions Everything,” “Paradise Hotel,” “I Survived a Japanese Game Show,” “The Swan,” “Trading Spaces,” “Celebrity Duets,” “Pros vs. Joes,” “American Gangster,” “The Game of Dating,” “Skating with Celebrities” and many others. For more information, visit www.asmithco.com.

About Universal Kids

Universal Kids represents the world of NBCUniversal family brands. As a kid-focused ecosystem with great TV content at the center, Universal Kids is programmed for the 2-12 year old audience, with a fresh mix of animated content, unscripted entertainment, and proven international hits. Launched in September 2017 and available in over 59 million homes, Universal Kids is available for kids and families across all platforms, including on air, online, On Demand and via mobile with the Universal Kids app.

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Universal Kids Contacts:

Rebecca Boswell

818-684-2510

Rebecca.Boswell@nbcuni.com

Jamie Greenberg

212-664-5276

Jamie.Greenberg@nbcuni.com