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Everything You Need to Know to Make Great Children's Television
Sesame Workshop
1900 Broadway
New York, NY 10023
8th Floor
Thursday, May 23, 2019, 6:30 PM - 9:00 PM EDT
Category: New York Events

The Producers Guild, Children’s Media Association, and Sesame Workshop are joining forces to host an enlightening and entertaining evening where you can learn (almost) Everything You Need to Know to Make Great Children's Television. Participate in our lively conversation with LaToye Adams (WonderWhy Consulting LLC), Angela Santomero (9 Story Media Group), Linda Simensky (PBS KIDS), and Bob Higgins (Boat Rocker Studios). The conversation will be moderated by none other than Brown Johnson of Sesame Workshop.  As you’ll see in their bios, these are some of the leading show creators, producers, writers, and researchers working in children’s media today.

We’ll explore the various opportunities for selling content in today’s market and explore how vast the children’s space is: preschool vs. bridge; short-form vs. series vs. long-form and features; and animation vs. live-action. Find out who the gatekeepers are, learn the distinctions in pitching children’s shows, and understand how networks vary (they’re not all created equally). Also, discover the differences in producing and writing content for kids. Explore the research process and how & why it is used. And learn how to find a good partner for your project.

Ryan Dillon, the puppeteer who brings Elmo to life, will teach you how to be a puppeteer. (And bring your camera for a photo-op with posed Elmo!) 

SPONSORS: Snacks generously provided by 99Eats (of Smorgasburg) and Bohana Life. Free books generously provided by Simon & Schuster.


 About our Moderator

Brown Johnson is the Executive Vice President and Creative Director at Sesame Workshop. Johnson is responsible for the development and production of the Workshop’s domestic television content, as well as Education and Creative Services.

Johnson is an award-winning producer of some of the most successful children’s programs. She pioneered the interactive format of the groundbreaking preschool programs Dora the Explorer and Blue’s Clues. She also conceived and oversaw the development of the Nickelodeon preschool block featuring hit shows including Go Diego Go!Yo Gabba Gabba!, Team UmiZoomiThe Backyardigans, and Ni Hao Kai Lan. Johnson led the creative development to extend the preschool block online and through retail. Many of the programs she created and managed showcase characters of diverse ethnicities. Her focus on the development of multi-ethnic children’s media spurred Johnson to create fellowships in writing and animation designed to grow the next generation of diverse creators.

Before joining the Workshop, she served as President of Animation and Preschool Entertainment at Nickelodeon, where she managed development and production of more than 200 episodes of programming each year. In Johnson’s more than 20 years with Nickelodeon, she received multiple Emmy Awards, Television Critics Awards, 3 Peabody Awards, Imagen, and NAACP Image Awards.  Johnson serves on the advisory board of Peter Gabriel’s WITNESS foundation, the board of governors of the We Are Family Foundation, the Ambassador Council of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, and is a graduate student mentor for the USC John C. Hensch Division of Animation and Digital Arts.

Johnson resides in New York and has one daughter.

About our Speakers 

LaToye Adams, President, WonderWhy Consulting LLC. LaToye drives a youth-centered design process by integrating formative research throughout the production lifecycle for television content and emerging educational technology. Through WonderWhy Consulting, she supports her clients’ mission of creating developmentally appropriate, inclusive and smart experiences for children and families. Throughout her career, LaToye has worked with leading producers and developers including Sesame Workshop, YouTube Kids & Family, Google Education and Michael Cohen Group, LLC (MCG).  At MCG, LaToye served as Director of Research for Nickelodeon's Bubble Guppies and ushered new production teams at YouTube Originals Kids & Learning through the content research process. LaToye had the great joy of serving as the 2016-2018 National President of the Children’s Media Association, leading its expansion to Los Angeles and the Bay Area.
Ryan Dillon is the performer behind everyone’s favorite red monster, Elmo. Inspired by the Muppets™ since childhood, and encouraged by his family and teachers, Dillon built and performed his own original characters, performing shows wherever he could. In his senior year of high school, he was asked to join the cast of Sesame Street, and has been performing on the “longest street in the world” for the past 13 years. When he’s not working on the Street, Dillon is a puppet designer, director, and puppet consultant for television, film, and stage. His work can be seen in national commercials and other television shows including work for The Jim Henson Company and Disney’s Muppets. Dillon built and performs several original puppet characters, and with his creative partner Mark Gale, produces online puppet content for Dillongale, which can be found on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

Bob Higgins, Executive Vice President, Content, Boat Rocker Studios, Kids & Family. A long-time champion of children’s programming, Bob oversees the creative direction for Boat Rocker Studios Kids and Family business, including development, production and acquisitions of TV and digital programming.  Current programming includes The Next Step, Remy & Boo, Kingdom Force, Love Monster and Bitz and Bob.

Before Boat Rocker, Bob served as EVP of FremantleMedia Kids & Family for eight years, growing that division into an industry leader with over a dozen series produced, including Danger Mouse, Kate & Mim-Mim and My Babysitter is a Vampire. Bob was also Chief Creative Officer at WILDBRAIN, where he Executive Produced the Emmy nominated The Ricky Gervais Show for HBO and is the former Senior Vice President, Programming and Development for Cartoon Network’s kids’ businesses, where he managed the development, production, acquisition and programming departments and oversaw new original animated series, shorts, Cartoon Network features and specials. 

Angela C. Santomero is an original Co-Creator, Executive Producer and Head Writer for the breakthrough and award winning Blue’s Clues. Angela is also the Creator, Executive Producer and Head Writer for the smash hit Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood (PBS), as well as Super Why! (PBS), Creative Galaxy (Amazon Studios), Wishenpoof! (Amazon Studios), and Charlie’s Colorforms City (Netflix). Malcolm Gladwell referred to Blue’s Clues as "One of the stickiest TV shows EVER made" in The Tipping Point.

Angela is the Chief Creative Officer of 9 Story Media Group. As CCO, Santomero leads the creative content strategy across all of 9 Story, with facilities in Toronto, New York, Dublin and Manchester. The appointment follows 9 Story’s recent acquisition of Out of the Blue Enterprises, which was co-founded by Santomero.

Described by Joanne Rogers as “a modern day Fred Rogers,” and by Fatherly.com as “the driving force behind the best educational programming for children,” Angela’s work has won the prestigious Peabody award, two TCA awards, 30+ Emmy nominations, and numerous Parents Choice Gold and Silver Awards. Angela's legacy is forever changing the way in which preschoolers watch television by presenting them with unique, challenging programs that enable them to learn through play, humor, and respect– changing the world one preschooler at a time!

Angela has dedicated her life to teaching that when you treat yourself and others with warmth, empathy, and respect, life changing benefits follow. Which is why her latest book, Radical Kindness: The Life-Changing Power of Giving & Receiving (Harper Collins 2019), explores the importance of kindness and how it can change your life in this essential guide and tie-in to the PBS special, The Power of Radical Kindness (March 2019). Foreword by Deepak Chopra.

Angela has a B.A. from The Catholic University of America, which awarded her a Young Alumni Merit Award and her Masters degree in Child Developmental Psychology and Instructional Media & Education from Columbia University (Teacher’s College), which awarded her with their 1999 Early Career Award. Angela’s children’s education background coupled with her unique knowledge of kids media and production allow Angela’s work to successfully integrate education, entertainment, and active participation which enable children to learn through play.

Angela’s book, PRESCHOOL CLUES: Raising Smart, Inspired and Engaged Kids in a Screen-Filled World (Simon and Schuster’s Touchstone 2018) explores the benefits of screen time, a healthy media diet, and how parents can use strategies from screen time to promote their children’s educational, psychological, and social development.

When she’s not writing, Angela likes to spend time with her daughters, Hope and Ella, her husband, Greg, and their puppies, Oreo and Samoa. She can be found online @AngelasClues.

As Vice President of Children’s Programming at PBS, Linda Simensky collaborates with producers, co-production partners, PBS station programmers, and distributors throughout the development, production, post-production, and broadcast phases for PBS KIDS programming.  

Since joining PBS in 2003, Linda has worked with renowned producers to develop hit shows ranging from Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and Wild Kratts to Odd Squad and Nature Cat. Linda is currently working on the PBS KIDS creativity-themed series, Pinkalicious & Peterrific with WGBH, Luna Around The World with Joe Murray, and several pilots.

Before joining PBS, Linda was Senior Vice President of Original Animation for Cartoon Network, where she oversaw development and series production of The Powerpuff Girls, among others. She began her career working for nine years at Nickelodeon, where she helped build the animation department and launch the popular series Rugrats, Doug, and The Ren & Stimpy Show.

Linda also teaches Animation History at the University of Pennsylvania.