Disney Interactive targets moms with original series
Margie Gilmore, vice president of online originals, told a group of media buyers gathered for a Digital Content NewFront presentation Thursday at SoHo House that the shows strive to remain true to the Walt Disney Co.'s heritage of storytelling -- while offering an honest, open and authentic voice that some within the company found "a little uncomfortable."
"There's not a lot of pixie dust in the world of parenting," Gilmore said. "We have to strike a balance between being Disney and being relevant and real."
The new digital shows build on Disney's considerable portfolio of assets targeting moms, including Babble Media, with its extensive roster of mommy bloggers dispensing parenting advice, and iParenting Media, which operates a network of websites geared to parents.
One series, "Moms of," features interviews with the mothers of accomplished athletes, musicians, inventors and teachers. One vignette Disney screened focused on 2009 Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram, whose mother, Shonda Ingram, advises, "As mothers we don't have all the answers ... you just have to keep fighting and working hard to raise your child."
Other shows, "That's Fresh" and "Thinking Up," fall into the self-help category -- leavened with humor. The cooking show is hosted by Chef Helen Cavallo, who describes herself as "50% Italian, 50% Colombian and I'm 100% New York." Each episode features one fresh ingredient that can be prepared in multiple ways.
"Moms are looking for answers. 'What's for dinner?' 'How can I feed my kids in healthy ways, in the time that I have?'" said Gilmore, who was an executive producer for Food Network. "We're working with the irresistible Helen Cavallo. ... She's so funny and so warm, and she's the kind of person the kids won't look away from, and the moms won't look away from."
"Courtney is like no one else I've ever met -- an embodiment in how to be a creative adventurer with and for your kids," Gilmore said. "She's a mom who can so easily access what it means to be 8 or 9 years old."
As with other media companies, Disney indulged in a bit of celebrity sizzle: comedian Ali Wentworth filmed an episode of "Daily Shot" -- a show mixing news, celebrity gossip and topical issues sprinkled with wit -- at SoHo House, instead of its typical setting at her kitchen table.
"As you can see, we're not in my kitchen," Wentworth joked in her opening. "I'm here with a bunch of really really close friends, some family, some in-laws. ..."
-- Dawn C. Chmielewski
Photo: Ali Wentworth, shown at the 39th Annual Chaplin Award gala in New York City, is host of the Disney Web series "Daily Shot." Credit: Jason Kempin/Getty Images