SpongeBob SquarePants’ Glittering, Inventive Set Design Wins Tony

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Glittering and inventive, a burst of pastels evoking its cartoon namesake, the set of SpongeBob SquarePants the Broadway Musical pumps riotous life into the critically acclaimed show. On Sunday evening, that backdrop, designed by Broadway veteran David Zinn, earned a Tony Award for Best Scenic Design of a Musical.

The set design, which The New York Times describes as “a bright, found-object aesthetic that mixes Pee-wee’s Playhouse, Etsy craft, classic MGM musicals and acid-house clubland,” marks Zinn’s second Tony (he earned top honors for Scenic Design of a Play in 2016 for his work on The Humans), and seventh nomination (he also earned a nomination for SpongeBob in this year’s costume design category).

The set bursts with an inventive array of found objects repurposed as SpongeBob’s undersea domain: pool noodles, floaty devices, shopping carts, umbrellas, surfboards. “In terms of influences, we referenced this sort of ’60s beach culture viewed through an ’80s sensibility,” Zinn told Time Out New York. “It was all about achieving beauty through a fun sensibility and simple materials.”

SpongeBob SquarePants, which earned a dozen total Tony nominations, is one of two current Broadway shows inspired by Viacom’s deep well of intellectual property. The other, Mean Girls, based on the 2004 Paramount Pictures film of the same name, earned 12 nominations. Both are an important part of Viacom’s deliberate strategic move into live events, where fans can connect with beloved characters in a new formats.

Both productions are ongoing in New York City. You can buy tickets to SpongeBob SquarePants at the Palace Theater here and to Mean Girls at the August Wilson Theater here.

Volunteer Spotlight: Taryn Sauthoff Uses Tech Talent for Good

Editor’s note: Viacom’s partner, Catchafire, originally published the article below on Medium. The two organizations collaborate on the Talent for Good program, which creates opportunities for Viacom employees to put their skills to work in the community.

Taryn Sauthoff, a Viacom employee in New York, is the embodiment of Talent for Good at work. She applied her web development skills to help YoungMoms, a non-profit organization that supports pregnant and parenting young women in rural Pennsylvania, build a new website. Sauthoff completed the volunteer project in a few months and continues to collaborate with the organization.

The homepage of YoungMoms, which Taryn Sauthoff helped develop.

Below is an excerpt from her testimonial:

Read More

Viacom Brands Win Five 2018 Cynopsis Social Good Awards

Viacom won five 2018 Cynopsis Social Good Awards for its civic-minded media focused on LGBT advocacy, disaster relief, and anti-bullying action, among other issues. Read about each campaign below.

Awareness Campaign/Initiative – Children’s Sector

Nickelodeon Creative Advertising – Nick SPLAT – Truth – Trivia

Cynopsis recognized Nickelodeon for Nick SPLAT Trivia, a partnership between the kids entertainment brand and nationally renowned smoking prevention organization Truth. Nick SPLAT Trivia, a lighthearted PSA in the form of a game show (complete with old-school 90s Nick graphics), educates young viewers on the ugly truth behind big tobacco.

Truth’s initiative is to get the millennial generation to take a stand against big tobacco and their profiling by using the Nick splat voice and audience.

Branded Campaign for a Digital, Broadcast or Cable TV Series

Comedy Central/Viacom Velocity – The Daily Show & Truth: Go Away Big Tobacco

On the adult front, Comedy Central’s late-night sensation The Daily Show With Trevor Noah aired a PSA, produced by Viacom’s branded content studio, Velocity, illuminating the facts about big tobacco.

Awareness Campaign/Initiative – Human Rights

MTV – #EyesOnChechnya – Awareness Campaign/Initiative – Human Rights

MTV earned the Awareness Campaign/Initiative honor, for its social media campaign #EyesOnChechnya, a multifacteted marketing crusade that shed light on the horrific treatment of LGBT citizens in Chechnya, part of Russian. In Chechnya, gay and bisexual men are persecuted – rounded up and tortured for their sexuality. MTV is preventing the world from looking away while these atrocities continue. (You can visit the website  to learn more and take action).

Read More

Channel 5 Cruises to First BAFTA Award With Jane McDonald Travel Doc

Channel 5’s Cruising With Jane McDonald is a British docu-series that features former cruise ship singer Jane McDonald as she tours lux ships around the world. Earlier this month, at the BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) Awards, the travel documentary snagged Channel 5’s first-ever BAFTA Award for Best Feature.

Read More

Viacom Launches Digital Studios at First NewFront, Ramping Up Online & Mobile Content Pipeline

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Laugh with Majah Hype, wake up with Nikki Glaser, cook with Snooki, get animated with JoJo – and do it all on your phone.

Viacom Digital Studios (VDS) is here, poised to deliver hundreds of hours of premium digital content that will transport digital native stars from BET, Comedy Central, MTV and Nickelodeon to the social and mobile platforms where their fans live.

This was the headline of Viacom’s spectacular first NewFront event earlier this week at Manhattan’s Chelsea Piers, where the company marched confidently into the digital realm by detailing dozens of new short-form properties to feed its massive online social footprint of more than 850 million fans, elaborating on new content deals with Snap and Twitter, and announcing an expansion of its recently acquired VidCon conference to London this February.

“The launch of Viacom Digital Studios is an amazing opportunity to reimagine our iconic brands for a new generation of young, mobile-first audiences,” said VDS President Kelly Day. “We’re bringing the power and scale of Viacom’s global content engine and storytelling capabilities to entertain and engage our fans whenever and wherever they’re consuming content.”

VDS has been steadily ramping up since Day joined Viacom late last year, jolting year-over-year social video views and minutes viewed in the U.S. upward by 70 (to 4.3 billion) and 78 percent (to 4.7 billion), respectively.

The digital studio is a lynchpin of Viacom CEO Bob Bakish’s revitalization plan, as the company moves deliberately to expand its core television business onto next-generation platforms.

“… if you can think about all the time spent on mobile and all those devices out there, I think you quickly realize what a powerful growth engine that will be for our business,” Bakish told a crowd of investors at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference in March.

While Viacom’s digital content will run across YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and other channels, the company’s NewFront highlighted new global original content deals with Snap Inc. and Twitter.

Read More

SpongeBob, Mean Girls Lead Tony Nominees With 12 Apiece as Viacom Ramps Up Live Events Business

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

After racking up impressive totals in last week’s Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards nominations, Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical and Paramount Pictures’ and Broadway Video’s co-produced Mean Girls have tied at the top of this year’s Tony Award nominations, with 12 apiece, including Best Musical.

The impressive totals among the best of Broadway showcase the ability of Viacom brands to connect with audiences across a range of formats as the company moves deliberately into the live events space under CEO Bob Bakish. As Viacom branches out beyond its core television and film business, each of its six flagship brands will host live events this year, including Comedy Central’s Clusterfest in San Francisco, Nickelodeon’s Slimefest in Chicago, and the BET Experience in Los Angeles.

The pair of musicals, both of which sprang from Viacom’s deep intellectual property library, also earned the top nominations from the Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards. SpongeBob earned 11 nominations from each institution, while Mean Girls, which is based on the 2004 Paramount movie of the same name, earned 10 Drama Desk and eight Outer Critics Circle considerations.

The full lists of nominations for each award show is below. Both productions are ongoing in New York City. You can buy tickets to SpongeBob SquarePants at the Palace Theater here and to Mean Girls at the August Wilson Theater here.

TONY AWARDS – The 72nd annual Tony Awards will air live on CBS on Sunday, June 10 at 8 p.m. ET

Best Musical

Mean Girls

SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical

Ethan Slater, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical

Best Performance by an actress in a leading Role in a Musical

Taylor Louderman, Mean Girls

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical

Grey Henson, Mean Girls

Gavin Lee, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical

Ashley Park, Mean Girls

Best Book of a Musical

Tina Fey, Mean Girls

Kyle Jarrow, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre

Jeff Richmond and Nell Benjamin, Mean Girls

Yolanda Adams, Steven Tyler & Joe Perry of Aerosmith, Sara Bareilles, Jonathan Coulton, Alex Ebert of Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, The Flaming Lips, Lady Antebellum, Cyndi Lauper & Rob Hyman, John Legend, Panic! at the Disco, Plain White T’s, They Might Be Giants, T.I., Domani & Lil’C for SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical

Best Scenic Design of a Musical

Scott Pask, Finn Ross and Adam Young, Mean Girls

David Zinn, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical

Best Costume Design of a Musical

Gregg Barnes, Mean Girls

David Zinn, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical

Best Lighting Design of a Musical

Kevin Adams, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical

Best Sound Design of a Musical

Brian Ronan, Mean Girls

Walter Trarbach and Mike Dobson, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical

Best Direction of a Musical

Tina Landau, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical

Casey Nicholaw, Mean Girls

Best Choreography

Christopher Gattelli, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical

Casey Nicholaw, Mean Girls

Best Orchestrations

John Clancy, Mean Girls

Tom Kitt, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical

SpongeBob SquarePants – The Broadway Musical for Everyone

DRAMA DESK AWARDS – TheaterMania will present the 63rd Annual Drama Desk Awards at 8:00 p.m. ET on June 3, 2018 at New York’s Town Hall

Read More

My First “Job”: A 9-Year-Old’s Experience at Viacom’s Take Our Daughters & Sons to Work Day

Editor’s note: On Thursday, April 26, 2018, Viacom offices in Miami, Hollywood, Chicago and New York invited a total of 350 children ages 9 to 15 to attend Take Our Daughters & Sons to Viacom Day, where they could see what a career in media and entertainment looks like behind the images flashing by on TVs and smartphones. Viacom has celebrated this occasion as part of the national Take Our Daughters & Sons to Work Day initiative for more than 25 years, but this was the first year that my daughter, Waverly, was old enough to participate.

Activities rambled over Viacom’s Times Square headquarters, with exactly the sort of creative experimentation and jamming after-party you would expect to find here, but the kids were not here for a carnival – they came to work as young professionals. Waverly’s assignment for the day was to write a guest blog that would take our readers through a day in the life of a Viacom kid. She nailed it (she is used to writing and has a blog of her own, Kids’ News NYC). Here, lightly edited, is Waverly’s day:

Starting my day

My day started with my dad waking me up. I was in Brooklyn, which I don’t usually sleep there on school nights. I brushed my teeth and went upstairs because my little brother was calling me. My dad and I ate a quick breakfast and I packed my stuff up. We went to the subway to get to our destination. I usually walk to my school since I live in Manhattan. But today I wasn’t going to school. I was going to my dad’s job at Viacom for Take Your Daughters & Sons to Viacom day!

I am always tired in the morning, but today I woke right up. When we got to 1515 Broadway, which is what my dad says the people who work here call this building, we checked in. The check-in room had a big blue table filled with badges and boxes. There was also was a setup that looked like it belonged to a band of some kind… it had a microphone and many other items. I wonder what that could be for?

After that, we went to get breakfast in the cafeteria. We put it in cartons and we went to the elevators. I was at first confused by how my dad knows what the elevator numbers were. Then he showed me four halls of elevators and that each hall went to different places. When we got to floor 50, my dad unlocked his office and we went inside. He showed me the websites he runs and we ate our delicious breakfast.

The Viacom lobby in Times Square is so cool – it has these giant screens that welcomed all of us kids to Take Our Daughters & Sons to Work Day!

Activity 1: Share your inspiration on social media

When we finished breakfast, we took the elevator to floor 30. We went to the art room for mood art. The room was empty at first, but then it slowly filled up with excited kids ready for a fun activity. When the Catalyst workers came (Catalyst is a group within Viacom that designs things, even the logo for Take Our Daughters & Sons to Viacom Day!) they said it was time for us to gather around the table.

They showed us a mini slideshow of examples of mood art and what we’ll need to do this project. We all took a piece of construction paper. There was all different colors, but I chose yellow. The category was what you are excited for this summer. I put space-decorated washy tape diagonally across the page. On the bottom side, I cut bands so they were one straight line and stuck them on with colorful summer stickers. On each side of the washy tape I put stickers of cake, ice cream, drinks, and other summer treats. On the same side as the bands, I put a picture of Switzerland because I am going there after my school lets out. On the other side, I put a different-colored washy tape and cut it up as confetti because my birthday is during summer. After I finished the project, we took a picture with it and went to the next activity.

Holding the mood art that the Catalyst team helped me create in their cool art room.

Activity 2: Create your own animation for Nickelodeon’s Do Not Touch app

After I finished my mood art, my dad came and got me and we went to the 31st floor and room 7 for an animation activity. When we got there, I sat down at a table filled with stickers, pens, sticky notes, and white paper. My dad left, and a worker showed us the steps to making an animation for Nickelodeon’s Do Not Touch app.  

The Do Not Touch app is where you point your phone or tablet toward a flat surface and a button appears there (ed: through augmented reality) and you push it. Every time you push it, a surprise comes. It is very good to do when you’re bored or even when you aren’t.

Each table got a helper. Our helper helped us when we needed ideas. We all brainstormed ideas for what could happen when someone touched the “do not touch” button and then jotted them down on a sticky note. Then we put them on our board.

The ideas I came up with were a lion getting a Brazilian blowout, a tiger getting eaten by a mouse, snakes coming out of holes and tangling themselves together, and one that I didn’t even have time to write: a tiger and a shark wrestling, but they combine and turn into a tiger shark! Our table gathered around the board and picked our four favorites, including an armadillo on a zipline, a lizard that turns into a disco ball, and my lion getting a Brazilian blowout. We presented them to the others. The helpers told us that some of them might even actually appear in the Do Not Touch app one day!

Two of my ideas for Nickelodeon’s Do Not Touch app!

Read More

Viacom to Launch Nickelodeon’s Preschool Video Subscription Service, NOGGIN, available on Amazon Prime Video Channels

Viacom will further accelerate its expansion on next-generation platforms by teaming up with Amazon to bring Nickelodeon’s NOGGIN to Amazon’s Prime Video Channels this May.

For $7.99 per month, young fans will be able to enjoy NOGGIN, an OTT product that provides curriculum-driven content to preschoolers, including: short-form videos; educational content; music videos featuring preschoolers’ favorite Nick characters; and over 1500 full-length library episodes of PAW Patrol, Dora the Explorer, Peppa Pig, Blue’s Clues, Max & Ruby, Go, Diego, Go! and Peter Rabbit, among others.

PAW Patrol episodes are featured on NOGGIN. Image courtesy of Nickelodeon.

“Our audiences continue to enjoy Viacom content in more places and with more flexibility than ever before,” said Tom Gorke, Executive Vice President, Head of Distribution and Business Development for Viacom.

“The availability of NOGGIN on Prime Video Channels will be a great new way for Nickelodeon fans to watch and interact with the best in preschool content on the popular Amazon platform.”

Along with the rapid growth of Viacom Digital Studios and recent acquisitions of influence marketer WHOSAY and online video conference mecca, VidCon, NOGGIN’s expansion on Prime Video Channels is another way that Viacom is strengthening its presence on key next-generation digital platforms.

Nickelodeon launched NOGGIN as a stand-alone app in February 2015, and the ad-free platform has since topped the charts of Apple and Google, ranking as one of the Top 10 Kids Apps on the App Store’s Free Apps chart, as well as being the no. 1 grossing app for Music and Video in the Family Category on Google Play.

Viacom Celebrates Its Annual Global Day of Giving Back: What’s Planned for Viacommunity Day 2018

Today, thousands of employees across Viacom and its brands pause from their work week and join together to make a difference in our communities around the world. Viacommunity Day 2018, now in its 22nd year, puts the full weight of the company behind social causes through volunteerism led in partnership with non-profit and civic advocates.

With employees in 25 countries participating, it’s a truly global tradition, underscored by this year’s theme of All Good All Around.

To celebrate Viacommunity Day, employees will take part in a wide variety of charitable activities, from educating young people and providing professional legal guidance to beautifying public spaces and assisting those in need, among other acts of giving. Viacom and its partners have organized more than 125 projects worldwide.

“Viacommunity Day brings out the very best of our organization to help better the communities where we live and work, and to make a positive impact for the many audiences we serve,” said Viacom President and CEO, Bob Bakish. “It’s one of my favorite Viacom traditions – one that I look forward to every year –  and it embodies the values that define our culture in a truly meaningful way.”

To get updates about Viacommunity Day 2018, follow #ViacommunityDay on Twitter and Instagram.

Here are some examples of Viacommunity Day projects occurring across the company this year:

Read More

Viacom’s KCA Ticket Winner on Her Experience, Instagram-able Pets and Viacom Pride

Alexandra Neri, who works as a dubbing manager for Paramount’s Worldwide Distribution group, is the latest lucky Viacom employee to score free tickets to a tentpole awards show.

Below, she tells us what it’s like to win an employee sweepstakes, how impressed she was by the Nickelodeon’s “top notch” production, and why she’s proud to work for a company that let’s its employees engage in the magic of live events.

This interview has been condensed for clarity.

Facebook post courtesy of Alexandra Neri.

Read More