Sending me to Las Vegas is not a good idea. It’s not the temptations that will get to me, I’ve never been a gambler, and infidelity has never been my cup of tea. No, I have a different problem, I am easily over-stimulated. My mind is about the size of a thimble and having even two e-mails open at the same time is usually enough to cause the thimble to overflow. I can only imagine what the Chex Mix of neon, slot machines, and Licensing Show will do to me. My staff has already pinned a note inside my tan blazer that reads, “If found, please return to Little Airplane.”
So why am I going? Two reasons: Small Potatoes and 3rd & Bird. Both of these Little Airplane shows will be launching soon on Disney Junior in the U.S. and, like any good creator, I want to make sure they are as successful off-screen as they are on-screen. In the past, I’ve waited patiently on the sidelines while others squeezed the products out of my preschool shows. Well, those days are gone. I made the decision this year to become as hands-on with the licensing of my beloved preschool brands as I have always been with our scripts, our designs and our music. Why? Because I’ve seen time and time again that it’s very hard to create a great preschool show but it’s very easy to mess one up. The path between a show and a shelf is a minefield and one misstep, from off-model plush to poor marketing, can explode your entire brand. And, as much as I wish it weren’t the case, great ratings no longer matter when it comes to making more than one season of a preschool show. It’s all about the consumer products. Period.
Admittedly, Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas is not exactly the most natural environment for a guy like me who studied poetry at Sarah Lawrence College. And, so, I am not going alone. I will have a small bevy of colleagues and friends accompanying me to advise me on everything from our music to our toys to our film. I feel about as protected and pumped as a quarterback heading into his first Super Bowl.
Will me and my potatoes get the stuffing kicked out of us in Las Vegas? Perhaps. But I am nothing if not tenacious. One of my favorite scenes from any movie is in “An Officer and A Gentleman” when Louis Gossett Jr. is trying to get Richard Gere, a.k.a. “Mayo,” to drop out of the Air Force training program. Mayo is being forced do push-ups on a cliff while his friends are out partying in a boat. He’s exhausted and very close to his breaking point, and Louis Gossett Jr. asks him why he doesn’t just quit? “I have nowhere else to go,” says Mayo. Well, neither do I.