side hustle nickelodeon crossover

Live-action crossover event signals a bigger ‘Nickelodeon World’

The co-heads of Nick and Awesomeness live action discuss why they believe cross-pollinating characters works so well for today's audiences, and why we're likely to see more of it in the future.
April 21, 2022

Nickelodeon is testing out an all-encompassing “Nickelodeon World” this week, where live-action shows are not strictly siloed, and characters join forces across timeslots.

Ahead of the kidsnet’s new When Worlds Collide crossover event, Shauna Phelan and Zack Olin, co-heads of live action at Nickelodeon and Awesomeness, tell Kidscreen what inspired them to look at the bigger picture. The special episode of Side Hustle will also feature characters from Danger Force, That Girl Lay Lay, Tyler Perry’s Young Dylan and Warped! when it debuts tonight (April 21).

Phelan and Olin say crossovers work particularly well for kids shows because of the malleability in how young viewers perceive fictional worlds and their characters. “We believe audiences, more than ever, have a deep relationship with the characters that extends beyond the individual shows. Our audience’s lives aren’t siloed, so why should their shows be?”

Although the shows deal with different subjects—from crime-fighting superheroes, to creative money-making schemes—their shared foundation as comedies helped maintain consistency in the creative development of the special episode.

“You need to pair reverie for the brands with a worthy story, which Dave Malkoff, Ron Hart and John Beck have done,” say Phelan and Olin, highlighting the complementary overlap of creative talent involved. “Dave created Side Hustle but also worked on Henry Danger and Danger Force.  Ron and John both executive produce on Side Hustle and That Girl Lay Lay, where Young Dylan has also guest-starred.”

The popularity of each of the Nickelodeon live-actioners involved inspired the net to consider a strategy for bringing the shows together with a more ambitious scope than a typical crossover, which usually involves only two to three shows, they explain. “We reframed [our thinking] from looking at individual shows to a view where we can realize the opportunities of one big ‘Nickelodeon World’ and thus deliver fans a uniquely epic experience.”

Nick has promoted the stunt on air as well as on social platforms like Twitter and Instagram, with behind-the-scenes candids of the cast becoming friends on set and teaser videos where the cast lets fans know what to expect. This making-of approach was the whole focus of the campaign, feeding social platforms with insider content as opposed to focusing on clips of interactions between each show’s characters, which is the more traditional strategy.

As for whether Nickelodeon is preparing to launch more crossovers in the near future, Phelan and Olin say it’s too early to comment. “But we have some exciting things in the works that we’re looking forward to sharing soon.”

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