Suddenly Skipper

When I was a teen, I don't recall my cohorts being such a desirable demo. Beyond a few teen horror flicks, and an acknowledgment that youths aspire to partake of the adult world, not a lot of entertainment catered to `70s...
April 1, 1999

When I was a teen, I don’t recall my cohorts being such a desirable demo. Beyond a few teen horror flicks, and an acknowledgment that youths aspire to partake of the adult world, not a lot of entertainment catered to `70s teens-we didn’t even have a Generation label. No one was consulting us on what to put in prime time. There were no retail chains just targeting us (see ‘Selling to the tween girl market,’ page R1), and certainly not the range of options in licensed clothes, such as Harvey’s new Devil Made Me Do It line (see ‘Magic show tags teens and tweens,’ page 48).

Now whole new waves of product are living or dying based on teen blessings. In this issue, TeenScreen reports on Web activities in which teen feedback has been pivotal. And our MIP-TV report explores burgeoning teen blocks and programming. Beyond targeting a core teen demo, encapsulating teen spirit in a property seems to be an entré to a much wider audience, as both older and younger groups are swayed by product embodying the teen ethos.

Saturating the teen-entranced programming industry is product that supposedly features teens-such as Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Dawson’s Creek and Felicity-but that also draws siblings and young adults. Teens are also the new superheroes-from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to the new teen Batman Beyond. And on the junior-skewing side, teens are replacing women as little girls’ role models. Barbie (supposedly a teen model) looked like an adult, while the trendy new Generation Girl line from Mattel aims to edge the Barbie-buying age up a bracket with teen curricula vitae and dolls that exhibit the teen physique.

Growing teen populations, discretionary spending and purchase influence power are cited to demonstrate the allure of the teen market, but this market is also influencing taste. Teen product has gone beyond programming featuring the demo’s denizens to embody a distinct genre-one that can be creatively defined as original, with an edgy look and attitude. The spirit of Daria and South Park exemplify this category. These shows skew multigenerationally, winning out in some homes that have nary a teen in sight to sway the dial decision. Teens have replaced ‘grown-ups’ as aspirational role models for not just kids, but apparently a lot of adults too. Hmmm…

In unrelated teen news, we have a new TeenScreen editor. Our copy chief and new media guru Jocelyn Longworth has been promoted to assistant editor of KidScreen, and will be helming the TeenScreen quarterly.

KidScreen also has a new publisher. Shelley Middlebrook, replete with a wealth of film and TV publishing experience, is taking over from founding publisher Ken Faier. Shelley, as senior VP and group publisher is also publisher of Playback, a Canadian film and TV newspaper, and RealScreen, an international title that covers the documentary business. Also from Playback, KidScreen has acquired Marcelle Bonnano as our new sales manager.

Ken Faier has been upped to executive VP and is playing a wider managerial role at our parent company Brunico Communications. Ken still promises to play a typcially huge part in the Golden Marbles, alongside KidScreen’s founding editor Mark Smyka, who is now senior VP and producer of Brunico Events. KidScreen’s outgoing associate publisher Nicole London will also keep a hand in KidScreen activities in her new role as GM of BrunicoDirect.

Welcome and congrats to the new crew, and please say ‘Howdy’ when you bump into them along the Croisette or elsewhere at MIP-probably at some teen thing or other. . . O.K. I’ll try not to be bitter at my generation getting swarmed by Skipper.

cheers, mm

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