8:00am PT by Kimberly Nordyke
Disney Channel Continues Overall Deal Push With 'Elena of Avalor' Creator (Exclusive)
Craig Gerber, the Emmy-winning writer-producer behind Disney Junior's animated hit series Sofia the First and Elena of Avalor, has signed an overall development deal at Disney Channels Worldwide.
Under the new agreement, he'll create and produce animated and live-action series and movies for Disney Channel and Disney Junior platforms around the world.
Gerber is credited with helping bring a "modern perspective" to fairy tales over the past seven years as well as creating relatable and diverse worlds that include representation of Latin culture and blended families. His shows also are credited with telling stories that break gender stereotypes and communicate positive lessons about leadership, resilience, diversity, compassion and the importance of family and family traditions.
"As a storyteller, Craig has the magic touch when it comes to creating unique, heartfelt characters for our audience," said Nancy Kanter, executive vp content and creative strategy at Disney Channels Worldwide, and general manager, Disney Junior Worldwide. "His instincts for comedy, adventure and emotionally resonant stories are what's fueled his success and helped define ours at Disney Junior and Disney Channel. I couldn't be more excited to know that we will have Craig working alongside us in making sure we continue to tell the kinds of stories that will matter to kids and families in the way Disney's content always has."
The news comes on the heels of Disney Channel announcing last week that writer-producer Eric Friedman (Bizaardvark, Crash and Bernstein) had signed an overall deal to develop new projects exclusive for the network. The deals keep top talent in the company as the kids space becomes more competitive with Netflix, Amazon and others pushing aggressively into the children's arena.
With Gerber as executive producer in 2012, Disney debuted its first little girl princess character in Disney Junior's Sofia the First. In 2016, Gerber created and executive produced its spinoff series, which introduced Elena of Avalor, a princess inspired by diverse Latin cultures and folklore.
Gerber won an Emmy for the Sofia the First theme song with composer/lyricist John Kavanaugh and, under his tutelage, the series won an Annie Award, an Emmy and a Humanitas Prize. Elena of Avalor won an Emmy and an Imagen Award and was nominated for a Writers Guild of America Award.
Each series created opportunities for other Disney businesses, including Disney Parks & Resorts, which features both Sofia and Elena characters as part of the popular Disney Junior Live on Stage! attraction at Disney California Adventure park at the Disneyland Resort and Disney's Hollywood Studios at the Walt Disney World Resort. Sofia and Elena also are included in the national stage show Disney Junior Dance Party on Tour.
Disney Consumer Products also has product lines inspired by each of the series, including toys, apparel, room decor and party supplies. The series also have hundreds of book titles, including the New York Times best-seller Sofia the First. Gerber co-authored many of the Sofia storybooks, including Sofia the First: The Curse of Princess Ivy, Sofia the First: The Floating Palace and Sofia the First: The Enchanted Feast. He has also co-written a book based on Elena called Elena and the Secret of Avalor.
Previously, Gerber wrote for the Disney Fairies film franchise and screenplays for Rogue Pictures, Radar Pictures and Intrepid Films. His comedic film short Hang Time won best narrative short at the Sonoma Valley Film Festival and best digital short at the Sedona Film Festival in 2003.
Gerber is represented by APA talent agency and by the law firm Bloom Hergott.