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Huffington Post - Disney Junior's novel approach to testing "Sofia the First" 's storybook world

Huffington Post - Disney Junior's novel approach to testing "Sofia the First" 's storybook world

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Disney's novel approach to testing "Sofia the First" 's storybook world

When it came to finding out if there actually was an audience out there for "Sofia the First," Disney Junior decided to go by the book. Literally.

"When you're developing a new animated series, you typically do a pilot," explained Nancy Kanter, the senior vice president of Original programming and General Manager at Disney Junior Worldwide. "But in this case, given that we were doing a show which was set in the storybook world, we decided to do something different. Find a unique and fun way to introduce the character of Sofia to the world."


Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

So Nancy had 200 "Sofia the First" picture storybooks printed and bound. She then had these hardcovers distributed to mothers all over Southern California with some very specific instructions.

"We told them 'Read this book to your child as you would any other picture storybook,' " Kanter continued. "We then asked those Moms to get back to us about what their kids had said about 'Sofia the First.' Whether they actually liked this new storybook world which we'd created and all of the characters who lived there."


(L to R) May Chao looks on as Nancy Kanter shares some "Sofia the First" concept
art to the students at ABC Little School in Van Nuys, CA. Photo by Todd Wawrychuk.
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

Mind you, Nancy took an active role during the testing of this proposed television series. Even going so far as to slap on a tiara and then getting down on the carpet with the kids at ABC Little School in Van Nuys, CA. Just so Kanter could personally introduce Disney's newest princess to these preschoolers.

"And what was great about all of these picture storybook tests is that -- time and again -- we got to hear the kids say that they genuinely connected with the character of Sofia. That -- while Sofia may be a princess -- she's also a real little girl," Nancy said.


Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

And what it is exactly that makes "Sofia the First" so relatable to kids in the real world? Kanter is quick to credit Craig Gerber, the co-executive producer of this new Disney Junior animated series, with coming up with the key creative concept that drives this show.

"Think about it: There are thousands of blended families out there nowadays. So you've got all of these kids who are trying to figure out how they should interact with their new siblings, how they should deal with their new mom or dad. Not to mention the stress of going to a new school or moving to a new town," Nancy stated. "So what Craig did was take Sofia, this average little girl, and then drop her into the storybook world equivalent of this modern-day situation."


Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

So what happens next in this storybook world? And which Disney Princesses will soon be showing up on this Disney Junior show to help Sofia deal with her problems at the palace? To get the answers to those questions, you can either click on the headline at the very top of this page or follow this link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jim-hill/sofia-the-first-show_b_2451168.html?utm_hp_ref=tv

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