Nickelodeon Helps Break Bread and Boundaries for Child Refugees

Children mingle with SpongeBob at Viacom’s Times Square headquarters during a UNICEF Refugee Welcome Dinner in partnership with Purpose and Playworks. Photo by Tatiana Cadet.

Twenty people are forcibly displaced every minute as a result of conflict or persecution. This adds up to 65.6 million people around the world, 22.5 million of whom are refugees – a person forced from their country to escape war, persecution, or a natural disaster. Unfortunately, these stateless wanderers are not always met with open arms. Many are denied a nationality and access to basic rights when the countries they flee to struggle to cope with the influx.

Companies across the U.S. have stepped up for refugees who struggle to find a community and a place to call home. Here at Viacom, Nickelodeon’s pro-social team recently participated in UNICEF’s Refugee Welcome Dinners, along with the organization’s local partner agency, Purpose, and Nickelodeon’s Worldwide Day of Play partner Playworks, which uses play to improve children’s physical health and social and emotional learning. UNICEF brought kids and families from Guatemala, Mexico, Guinea, Venezuela, Botswana, and the Central African Republic to the Lodge cafeteria at Viacom’s Times Square headquarters to join the Playworks kids for a Nickelodeon-style pizza party.

The gathering was complete with a Paw Patrol AR pictures booth, a four-square recess game, and a dancing SpongeBob SquarePants. Kid-friendly Top 40 music filled the air, and the kids showed off their best Backpack Kid dances. Tables topped with orange table cloths and piles of candy adorned the space and a Nickelodeon promo video took over the Lodge television screens.

Children mingle with SpongeBob at Viacom’s Times Square headquarters during a UNICEF Refugee Welcome Dinner in partnership with Purpose and Playworks. Photo by Tatiana Cadet.

Regardless of race or creed, each guest came together and broke bread and boundaries, in the true spirit of Viacommunity. The event in its entirety made a powerful statement about the importance of tolerance, positivity and acceptance. Above all, it showcased the true impact that joining together in play has on the wellness of children’s souls.

Nick Nostalgia Trip Continues with Hey Arnold! and Rocko’s Modern Life Movie Trailers at Comic Con

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Nickelodeon unleashed a pair of nostalgia-infused trailers at last week’s San Diego Comic Con, promoting TV movies that will revisit fondly remembered series from the 1990s and early 2000s: Hey Arnold! and Rocko’s Modern Life.

“Nickelodeon rolled into Comic-Con 2017 with the most effective weapon they could possibly unleash on millennials: nostalgia,” wrote Katie Buenneke in L.A. Weekly. “As always, Nick isn’t just catering to kids — and now they’re specifically targeting the generation of now-adult kids who grew up on Nick’s animated programming.”

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Hey Arnold!, which ran on Nick from 1996 to 2004, is set in the streets of Hillwood, a sort of Portland-Brooklyn-Seattle mash-up where fourth grader Arnold lives in an inner-city boarding house with his grandparents. Kind and unassuming, Arnold is a low-key bully-battling hero who is perpetually helpful to those in need.

This no-judgement, all-are-welcome Mr. Fix It persona endeared Arnold to a whole generation of Nick viewers. “90s kids who grew up with the show Hey Arnold! love it because main man Arnold is earnestly cool and selfless to everyone in his neighborhood and PS 118,” writes Inquirer.net’s Niña V. Guno.

It turns out that nice ages well. Fast forward to 2017. Arnold has aged one year. He is prepping to enter sixth grade. Best bud Gerald has organized a rooftop tribute to Arnold’s relentless do-goodery. And then we find out that this crew is sending their urban hero to the (fictional) Central American nation of San Lorenzo, where his parents disappeared back in the 90s.

Hey Arnold! creator Craig Bartlett talks a bit more about the characters’ updated styles and teases Arnold’s destination:

Rocko’s Modern Life, which ran on Nick from 1993 to ’96, followed the titular anthropomorphic immigrant wallaby and his crew – Heffer the steer and Filburt the turtle – through the fantasyland of their fictional city, O-Town. Despite its short-ish run, the series retains a loyal fanbase.

“The fourth Nicktoon to debut, Rocko’s Modern Life boasts a sizable cult to this day, largely thanks to the fact that it tosses a bunch of goofily animated animals straight out of a brightly colored Sunday comic strip into the midst of decidedly mundane situations, from visiting the DMV to flying on a plane to cleaning an apartment,” A.V. Club’s Todd VanDerWerff wrote more than a decade and a half after the final episode aired.

That final episode – or at least what the creators intended to be the final episode – sent Rocko and his posse deep into space, where they have been floating about (along with an impudent monkey and bunches of bananas) ever since.

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SpongeBob SquarePants Follows Season 12 Renewal With Voyage to Broadway

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

The power of positive thinking has been working out pretty well lately for SpongeBob SquarePants. The eternal optimist will star in his third movie in 2019. Last month, Nickelodeon greenlit a 12th season, which will correspond with the show’s 20-year anniversary when it debuts in 2019. America’s favorite talking sponge continues to be the most popular cartoon on the block, scoring the top ratings slot among core kids demographics.

And now, there’s even more to celebrate:

The play – in which an unnamed savior rises to save Bikini Bottom from volcanic annihilation – moves east after a successful run in Chicago, landing at Broadway’s Palace Theatre, which sits just a couple blocks north of Viacom’s global headquarters in Times Square.

“We could not be more thrilled to bring Nickelodeon’s iconic SpongeBob SquarePants to the theater in an original musical conceived specifically for Broadway,” said Nickelodeon President Cyma Zarghami. “We are also incredibly honored to be in such a gorgeous house as The Palace, where audiences will be immersed in the fun and surprising world of Bikini Bottom.”

SpongeBob is pretty happy about it too:

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And so are the folks who watch Broadway for a living: “While we’ve been so excited about plenty of other great plays for kids, this one surely takes the cake,” writes Time Out New York’s Allie Early.

There’s a lot to be amped up about. The Chicago run was well-reviewed, with high praise for many of the disparate parts that seamlessly merge into a big-time stage production. Let’s take a look at a few highlights.

The story

SpongeBob has built a reputation as an all-ages crowd-pleaser, and the musical continues that tradition.

In his television review for Chicago local station WGN 9, Dean Richards observed, “Instead of kid-like dialogue,  the story is multi-layered for kids and adults. It all adds up to one of the most fun, well-produced, and best-acted shows Chicago has seen in a long time.”

And while the plot is relatively simple – a volcano is about to destroy their world, how do we save it? – the production’s subtext is ground in a greater, unnamed sophistication that addresses the issues of the larger troubled world we all actually inhabit.

Writing in the Chicago Sun-Times, Hedy Weiss noted, “Part allegory of the precarious world in which we all now dwell, and part satire on everything from the bureaucratic babble of modern-day politicians to the hunger for moneymaking, the bloated egos of pop music groups, messianic leaders and the eternal lure of stardom, the show is full of wildly energetic performers and playful, imaginative stagecraft that might best be described as one part lavish Dollar Store ingenuity, one part Cirque du Soleil and one part childlike invention.”

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Nick’s Number One! (And Number 2, and Number 3, and Numbers 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10…)

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Behind a wide-ranging slate of live-action and animated shows, Nickelodeon swept ratings compilations of the top 10 children’s programs for the first quarter of 2017 among kids 2-11 and 6-11.

The accomplishment continues a torrid winning streak for Nickelodeon, which marks its third year as the top kids’ network among kids 2-11 and preschoolers. This is Nick’s seventh consecutive quarter winning those two demos, and its second in a row among kids 6-11. Ratings grew among all three demos during the quarter.

By locking in the top 10 children’s shows in two core demos, Nick pulled net double digits ahead of its competition. The net also owns four of the top five shows among kids 2-5: number one PAW Patrol; number two Shimmer and Shine; number four Team Umizoomi; and number five Blaze and the Monster Machines.

Underscoring Nick’s deep influence on kids’ culture, its annual Kids’ Choice Awards was the top-rated show for the week ending March 12 among kids 2-11, kids 6-11 and tweens 9-14.

Scroll down to see the 10 Nick shows that won the quarter in both the 2-11 and 6-11 demos:

Kids 2-11

#1 The Thundermans

#2 Nicky, Ricky, Dicky and Dawn

#3 SpongeBob SquarePants

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The Best-Dressed Pineapple Under the Sea: SpongeBob Goes Gold With Six International Designers

Top fashion bloggers, designers, celebs and SpongeBob himself were in attendance at the SpongeBob Gold fashion collection launch party at London Fashion Week on Saturday Feb. 18.

To kick off a year-long SpongeBob Gold international campaign, Nickelodeon and Viacom Consumer Products have collaborated with six international designers on an innovative fashion collection. Featuring designs from Peter Jensen, Bobby Abley, Salar, Maria Francesca Pepe, Suecomma Bonnie and Bad Denim, the SpongeBob Gold fashion collection includes clothing for men and women as well as footwear, accessories and jewelry. SpongeBob Gold will be available at retail exclusively outside of the U.S. beginning in May.

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 18: A general view at Nickelodeon's SpongeBob Gold 18th Anniversary at LFW in collaboration with the LFW Design collective: Bobby Abley, Pete Jenson, Salar Milano, Maria Francesca Pepe, Suecomma Bonnie & Bad Denim on February 18, 2017 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Nickelodeon)

LONDON, ENGLAND – FEB. 18: A general view at Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob Gold 18th Anniversary at LFW in collaboration with the LFW Design collective on Feb. 18, 2017 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Nickelodeon)

Designer Maria Francesca Pepe, who designed a range of charm-adorned SpongeBob jewelry, said of her involvement in the collection, “I’ve always felt the concept of pop defined the core of my creations. Developing an exclusive capsule collection of jewelry featuring the pop sensation SpongeBob felt such a match.”

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It’s the Kids Turn to Vote as Nick Releases 2017 Kids’ Choice Award Nominees

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Hey kids, it’s your turn.

For about four years now, American adults have been obsessed with a presidential election that happens… every four years. And though Nick gave you the chance to have your say in that race, they decided that they won’t make you wait another four years to stamp another ballot – it’s time to cast your votes for the 2017 Kids’ Choice Awards (KCA).

The awards show will hit your screens on Saturday, March 11, but voting is already going on across 28 categories, including some pretty cool new ones, including “Favorite Frenemies,” “Most Wanted Pet,” and “#Squad.” Start voting right now by clicking here. Want more KCA? There’s plenty here.

You can preview all the categories and nominees below, then vote. WWE superstar John Cena will host the event from Los Angeles. We’re not ready to announce who else will be there yet, but we can promise this much: there will be slime.

While you’re at it, check out Cena’s top five reasons why he’s pumped up to host the awards:


Nominees and categories for Nickelodeon’s 2017 Kids’ Choice Awards (*new categories):

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History Echoes and Present Zooms at Nick’s New Burbank Studio

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

In a rousing ribbon-cutting attended by Viacom executives and the real-life embodiments of SpongeBob and Squidward, Nickelodeon opened a vast expansion of its Burbank studio earlier this month, planting a modern and well-appointed workspace for 700 employees at the heart of one of the world’s entertainment capitals.

“The opening of our new offices in Burbank is a significant moment for Nickelodeon,” said Nickelodeon Group President Cyma Zarghami. “We are ushering in a new era of creative excellence and increased collaboration for everyone who works here. Since we first planted our flag on the West Coast in the early ‘90s, Nickelodeon in Burbank has been a beacon to the creative community, and our new complex now signals our increased commitment to giving our creators and employees the very best environment and resources to be successful.”

(L-R) Actor Benjamin Flores Jr. from Game Shakers, voice of SpongeBob SquarePants Tom Kenny, Mayor of Burbank Jess Talamantes, President of Nickelodeon Cyma Zarghami, President and CEO of Viacom Inc. Robert Bakish, Vice Chair of the Board Shari Redstone, voice of Patrick Star Bill Fagerbakke, and actor Cree Cicchino from Game Shakers attend the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony to celebrate the Grand Opening of Nickelodeon's State-of-the-Art Complex on January 11, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Nickelodeon)

(L-R) Actor Benjamin Flores Jr. from Game Shakers, voice of SpongeBob SquarePants Tom Kenny, Mayor of Burbank Jess Talamantes, President of Nickelodeon Cyma Zarghami, President and CEO of Viacom Inc. Robert Bakish, Vice Chair of the Board Shari Redstone, voice of Patrick Star Bill Fagerbakke, and actor Cree Cicchino from Game Shakers attend the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony to celebrate the Grand Opening of Nickelodeon’s State-of-the-Art Complex on January 11, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Nickelodeon)

The more-than 200,000-square-foot space expands upon Nick’s adjacent legacy studio with room to host more than 20 show productions, including smash hits The Loud House, SpongeBob SquarePants and Shimmer and Shine.

The building distills the essence of Nick’s kid-centric brand into a grown-up workspace dotted with customizable work stations and ample collaborative spaces. Archival libraries warehouse the brand’s deep well of iconic work, while rotating galleries showcase the best of contemporary artists’ efforts from both inside and outside of the company. Threaded throughout the five-story space is an 88-seat screening room, voiceover studios, a café, and rooms dedicated to fitness, music and gaming.

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony To Celebrate Grand Opening…
Ribbon Cutting Ceremony To Celebrate Grand Opening…
Stuart Stuart

attends the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony to celebrate the Grand Opening of Nickelodeon's State-of-the-Art… Read More

Nickelodeon Animation Studio
Nickelodeon Animation Studio
Stuart Stuart

Nickelodeon Animation Studio, Burbank, CA. Photo: Bruce Damonte/NICKELODEON© 2016 Viacom Internation… Read More

Nickelodeon Animation Studio
Nickelodeon Animation Studio
Stuart Stuart

Nickelodeon Animation Studio, Burbank, CA. Photo: Bruce Damonte/NICKELODEON© 2016 Viacom Internation… Read More

Nickelodeon Animation Studio
Nickelodeon Animation Studio
Stuart Stuart

Nickelodeon Animation Studio, Burbank, CA. Photo: Bruce Damonte/NICKELODEON© 2016 Viacom Internation… Read More

Nickelodeon Animation Studio
Nickelodeon Animation Studio
Stuart Stuart

Nickelodeon Animation Studio, Burbank, CA. Photo: Bruce Damonte/NICKELODEON© 2016 Viacom Internation… Read More

Nickelodeon Animation Studio
Nickelodeon Animation Studio
Stuart Stuart

Nickelodeon Animation Studio, Burbank, CA. Photo: Bruce Damonte/NICKELODEON© 2016 Viacom Internation… Read More

Nickelodeon Animation Studio
Nickelodeon Animation Studio
Stuart Stuart

Nickelodeon Animation Studio, Burbank, CA. Photo: Bruce Damonte/NICKELODEON© 2016 Viacom Internation… Read More

Nickelodeon Animation Studio
Nickelodeon Animation Studio
Stuart Stuart

Nickelodeon Animation Studio, Burbank, CA. Photo: Bruce Damonte/NICKELODEON© 2016 Viacom Internation… Read More

Nickelodeon Animation Studio
Nickelodeon Animation Studio
Stuart Stuart

Nickelodeon Animation Studio, Burbank, CA. Photo: Bruce Damonte/NICKELODEON© 2016 Viacom Internation… Read More

Nickelodeon Animation Studio
Nickelodeon Animation Studio
Stuart Stuart

Nickelodeon Animation Studio, Burbank, CA. Photo: Bruce Damonte/NICKELODEON© 2016 Viacom Internation… Read More

Nickelodeon Animation Studio
Nickelodeon Animation Studio
Stuart Stuart

Nickelodeon Animation Studio, Burbank, CA. Photo: Bruce Damonte/NICKELODEON© 2016 Viacom Internation… Read More

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Comedy Central Leads Viacom’s 29 Emmy Nominations

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Behind raucous talent Amy Schumer and the momentum of an enduring South Park, Comedy Central led a roster of diverse and rich Viacom programming that tallied 29 nominations for the 2016 Emmys.

Comedy Central has become a perennial Emmy standout – last year, the network notched 26 nominations and eight wins for its irreverent work. Nickelodeon, Spike, Logo, MTV, TV Land and BET also earned nominations.

In addition to the recognition of outstanding work from wholly owned Viacom programming, our Paramount TV division earned 14 nominations, 11 for its collaborations with FOX, most notably the spectacular Grease Live special, which drew 10 nominations after totaling more than 12 million viewers during its February airing.

The full list of Viacom nominations is below, along with a look at a few of the properties up for the honors. Some of the clips contain graphic or adult language.

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Gettin Our Comic Con On

The annual San Diego Comic Con is home to diehard fans celebrating their favorite comic books, movies, TV shows, and characters with outlandish costumes, fan activations, and packed panel discussions. With deep stables of iconic properties, Viacom’s MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon helped drive the festival’s excitement, giving hardcore fans a close-up dose of their favorite shows. Viacom booths integrated fans into their worlds while panel events with cast members and producers connected them with beloved characters. And all three brands teased upcoming or current shows, including MTV’s Scream, Comedy Central’s Moonbeam City, and Nick’s Pig Goat Banana Cricket.

Check out what each brand served up to its fans during the event:

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Marva Smalls on Record Turnout for ‘Worldwide Day of Play’

by Chanel Cathey, Viacom
Nick Cannon Lights The Empire State Building Orange In Honor Of Nickelodeon's 10th Annual Worldwide Day Of Play

SpongeBob, Nickelodeon Executive Vice President Public Affairs Marva Smalls, Nick Cannon, and Dora the Explorer turn the Empire State Building Orange for 10th Annual. (Photo: Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Nickelodeon)

Nickelodeon’s 10th annual Worldwide Day of Play (WWDoP) was the largest to date with more than 50,000 kids and families from all 50 states and abroad uniting to get up, get out and play. WWDoP staged its flagship event in Brooklyn’s iconic Prospect Park. Stars like SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles joined over 35,000 kids and families to enjoy a day of activities and games, including football, tennis, dancing, double-dutch and a live concert with Big Time Rush and Ariana Grande headlining. Read More