It's Eisner on the other side

Former Disney CEO touts his new series for Nick as cable upfronts begin

Michael Eisner helped kick off the springtime cable upfront presentation season Thursday as the former Disney CEO took the stage at New York's Hammerstein Ballroom to talk up a series he has developed for former rival Nickelodeon.

Supporting his weight on crutches, his left ankle encased in a plaster cast — he later joked that he had injured himself while "fighting with (Viacom topper) Sumner Redstone over a parking space at Bank of America" — Eisner pitched to the assembled throng of media buyers "Glenn Martin, DDS," his new stop-motion- animated series that will bow in the summer on Nick at Nite.

Eisner said he is "having fun" with the series, adding that the project has allowed him to focus on something other than the cratering economy. "I'm not worried about the meltdown … I'm worried about this show," he said.

Eisner noted the irony of his association with Nickelodeon, which he characterized as "a once-distant rival that is now in (Disney's) face."

Nickelodeon president Cyma Zarghami touted another upcoming animated Nick series from a former top Disney exec (and former Eisner rival), DreamWorks Animation's Jeffrey Katzenberg. His "The Penguins of Madagascar" premieres March 28.

Also appearing at the presentation were "Slumdog Millionaire" star Dev Patel, who toplines the upcoming Paramount/ Nickelodeon Movies feature "The Last Airbender," and former Nickelodeon star Nick Cannon, who is returning to the network with a new two-year deal.

Under the pact, Cannon has been named honorary chairman of the N as it transforms into TEENick, where he will serve as a creative consultant on development and have an on-air presence. Cannon also will host and exec produce TEENick's Halo Awards, a new hourlong special celebrating teens who make a difference.

Anthony Crupi is senior editor at Mediaweek.
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