As Senior Vice President of Playhouse Disney Worldwide, Nancy Kanter knows children's programming. She supervises the development of top-rated shows including Handy Manny, Imagination Movers, Little Einsteins and Higglytown Heroes, and knows the secret to making high quality children's programs.
Nancy Kanter recently spoke with Jeana Lee Tahnk to tell Mommy Tracked readers about what it takes to create a successful kid's program as well as inform us that Disney will be premiering a Handy Manny Health Public Service Announcement on Friday, December 11 to educate kids on proper flu prevention.
Can you tell us a little bit about the upcoming "Handy Manny" health PSA that you will be issuing regarding this flu season? What prompted you to choose Handy Manny as the spokesperson of choice?
Because we have kids' eyes and ears, as well as parents on our programming, we are always looking for opportunities to provide timely and topical messages that are relevant to families with young children. The impetus for the Handy Manny flu prevention interstitial that shows what kids can to do lessen their chances for catching the flu came out of a meeting that I had with the White House Office of Public Engagement. We met with that team a few months ago and were told just how important it was to get the message out to as many kids and families as possible as the flu season was about to start.
We came back and thought about what would be the most effective way to do that and recognized that Manny and his tools would be able to deliver that message in a positive, non-threatening and entertaining way. Manny is the perfect model for a caring, involved, patient parent and the tools add the right element of childlike inquisitiveness and humor. And, of course, we know our audience is watching this show in big numbers so it gave us the best chance to reach the biggest audience and thereby make the most impact.
You began your career as a film editor. What made you decide to enter the foray of children's programming?
I left film editing to become a producer, mostly because I was growing restless about sitting in dark rooms for hours on end, and I found myself becoming more interested in stories that related to kids, because by then I had a couple of my own. Everything I've done has really been about telling stories. It's just the audience that's different.