Okay, okay, Nancy Kanter isn’t really my new BFF (I wish!) but she was awesome enough to sit down and share her life story with us at the first ever WiCM Red Chair Series.
And yes, there was indeed a red chair. Two, in fact.
Amy Friedman moderated as Nancy Kanter, Vice President of Disney Junior Worldwide shared the story of her storied career and gave us a sneak peek of the launch of the new 24 hour Disney Junior channel.
From any early age, Nancy knew she didn’t want a conventional life. Her dad was a director on Your Show of Shows and worked in advertising and her mom owned a preschool so the makings of a master of kids’ TV was in the works from the start. But Nancy had other lofty plans: she wanted to be a translator at the UN. That is, until she heard that there is a high suicide rate among folks with that profession. Yikes.
So she decided to go into TV and film. She started out as an editing intern and worked with D.D. Allen and as an apprentice editor on Dog Day Afternoon. She continued working as a film editor and then realized she wanted more creative control.
She produced “Stood Up” an ABC afterschool special (Remember those?), met Arlene Sherman and starting doing shorts for Sesame Street. When her husband had to move to LA for his work she started at Disney. At the time the network was struggling with preschool, they had done Bear in the Big Blue House and Rolie Polie Olie but there was no testing with kids and certainly not the extensive preschool presence Disney has today.
Which brings us to the present and the launch of Disney Junior. They needed to find a way to differentiate Disney Junior from PBS or Nick Jr. and what they really thought about is that Disney already means so much to people. Disney has been touching people’s hearts through their movies, characters, theme parks, etc. for years and Disney Junior’s shows had to have the same amount of heart. When they did focus group testing and asked kids who Mickey was they found that most kids simply answered “my friend.”
We then got a sneak peek of a wonderful new lineup that includes some familiar faces from Disney TV and movies (Mickey and the gang, Peter Pan, princesses) as well as new friends. I don’t want to give anything away, you’re just going to have to tune in to see.
All in all, there is just too much information to report. The Red Chair Series is one of my favorite WiCM events ever, it was so nice getting to know a bit about Nancy, not just her resume but about her as a person and the path she’s taken to get where she is. At the conclusion of the event, we retired to the bar next door for drinks and were encouraged to introduce ourselves to Nancy. That really blew me away, that Nancy would take the time to talk with us so openly and honestly and say hello to each one of us personally.
And finally, the question you most wanted to know. What Disney character does Nancy think she is? Daisy Duck. She has good shoes and is a bit of a diva. See? I am her BBF. That’s so something only a BFF would know.
Main Takeaway: There are so many roads to take in life and everything teaches us a lesson and helps us get to where we belong.
Personal Takeaway: Everyone makes mistakes, you just have to get through them. Nancy told a wonderful story about when she was taking a rough cut of Dog Day Afternoon to Paramount to be screened by the execs and Al Pacino and a bus ran over the film. Luckily, the film itself wasn’t damaged. But really, yikes.
Inappropriate Takeaway: Amy told us that she’s taken her red chairs with her throughout her career. I gotta steal me some office furniture.