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Interview With Nancy Kanter: Mom in Charge of Playhouse Disney Programming

When your child sits down to watch Playhouse Disney, you aren't the only mother in the room. Behind the screen, the script, and the concept, there's Nancy Kanter, Senior Vice President of Playhouse Disney Worldwide and mom of three. Though her children are grown, the television exec still has babies she nurtures from concept to creation — shows like Handy Manny, Little Einsteins and Imagination Movers. It's an exhaustive process that involves educational, curriculum and cultural consultants, focus groups of moms and children, research, feedback and reworking. Each social message and its delivery is carefully crafted since youngsters are likely to replicate what they watch in the real world. The Mouse doesn't just put things on air. We recently had the chance to chat with Nancy via phone.

LilSugar: Your job is in television, but you are also a mother. What's an acceptable amount of TV?
Nancy Kanter: It's always about the balance in your life and your activities with your kids. I don't think anybody would advocate that you put your kid in front of the television for endless hours on any given day. It's a family decision. There's no magic number. We target preschoolers children two to six on Playhouse Disney. Often our programming is the first TV experience that kids have. We are thrilled with parents that pay attention to what their kids are watching, and it's our responsibility to give them really well conceived, entertaining shows. And, in the preschool world to give them something that is of value developmentally.

LilSugar: What is the time from concept to airing a show?
Nancy Kanter: It can certainly vary depending on how well the initial stage of developments go, but it's usually between a year and a year and a half in development before we say this is in good enough shape to go ahead and make a pilot and present it. From the pilot stage to finally hitting the air, that's usually a year and a half to two years.

To see what Nancy said sets Disney programming apart and if there will ever be a collaboration with Sesame Street, read more.

LilSugar: What sets Disney programming apart from that of competitors?
Nancy Kanter: Disney is recognized and has certainly made a legacy out of strong storytelling, very strong, engaging and lasting characters, and that is something that we do outstandingly well and that we try to bring to every project. It's hard because of the expectation — if something has the Disney name on it, you're expecting something very special in the same way that families save up all year to be able to go to the theme parks. You walk through those gates, and you feel like you've entered something very unique and magical. That is what the Disney brand is about so we try and bring that to our stories and our series, and we do that in a way that is sometimes a bit different than anybody else. We also know for this age group, the learning piece is very important. We try to leave that in a way that feels very organic and a part of the entertainment rather than something that pops out and isn't part of the core.

LilSugar: You have history (as an executive producer) with Sesame Street. These days, every big name like Michelle Obama is making their way there. Will a Disney character ever be a guest star?
Nancy Kanter: Most of our Disney characters are animated so it's a little hard to travel them to the live action world of Sesame Street. And, they've never asked. If they do, we'll have to think about it.

©(Disney Channel/Adam Larkey)

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