Do you think there were ever any conflicts between Herb Scanell and Cyma Zarghami?

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TheMisterManGuy

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Oct 23, 2014
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Long time Nickelodeon fans will often cite the early 2000s as the beginning of a decline for Nickelodeon. While I don't think I'd go that far, I would agree that it was a very awkward transitional phase of the brand. 2000s Nick is very much this weird middle ground of the Janky, surreal, and edgy Nick of the 90s, and the slick, bland, and corporate Nick of the 2010s. Through out most of the 2000s, you notice that Nickelodeon was struggling to hold to its original identity as the edgy rebellious Children's brand it was in its golden age, as a more calculated Disney-esque mentality began creeping its way into the platform.

I wonder if this awkward middle-ground phase of Nick was the result of some potential corporate conflicts within upper management. Specifically between President of Nickelodeon, Herb Scanell, and then Executive Vice President and General Manager, Cyma Zarghami. Nickelodeon as a brand was sprawling and complex by the time the 2000s hit, so there needed to be more leaders managing different parts of the company. Herb was the head of the entire Nick brand, overseeing the entire mini-empire, including the movies division, licensed products, website, its various digital cable spin-offs (Nick GaS, Noggin, etc.), and even Nick at Nite and TV Land, among other ventures. Cyma Zarghami was put in charge of the flagship TV Network, overseeing specifically its programming, on-air branding, scheduling practices, and content development. Basically her position was similar to that of "Entertainment President" position most broadcast Networks have.

It always felt like to me, that Herb at the very least, still knew what made Nickelodeon as a brand unique, especially compared to other Children's brands at the time like Disney. Nickelodeon wasn't just a brand for kids, It was a company that felt like it was run by kids. Filled with all the stuff kids actually wanted at the time, even if it wasn't a massive franchise. I think Herb wanted Nickeldoeon to stay that way. Cyma however, I feel had other plans. We all know Cyma is a bad executive. But I don't think many discuss exactly why she was so bad. My thinking is simple, she wanted Nickeldoeon to mainstream. She wanted to franchise the brand far beyond what it extended to at the time, and create a platform that only launched mega franchises that sell toys and other merchandise. She essentially wanted to take a company designed to be the anti-Disney, and turn it into a Disney-lite.

Cyma tried to exert this desire first over at the flagship network. It was under her that Nickelodeon began its poor practices against its creative talent. Quietly changing the pay-rates of the creators in her favor. She also pushed against the proper unionization of their animated talent, as that means less money from merchandise to be made. How do we know this? Because these were all the reasons a show called Constant Payne never got made, on top of not getting picked up due to "action shows making kids terrorists" apparently. This is also ironic, because much of the reasons Constant Payne was dropped, also happened to define one of Nick's most successful shows this era, Avatar: The Last Airbender. A serious, mature story that often defied the conventions of the network it aired on. Oh, so now its okay for Nick to make action shows?

Again, I'd like to chalk that up to potential power struggles. It felt like Herb wanted to maintain the unique identity of the Nickelodeon brand, but Cyma wanted to homogenize it. Herb's position meant that Nick still tried as hard as it could to maintain its trademark attitude during the 2000s, even as Cyma tried to eliminate as much as she could of it from the flagship network. And again, the 2000s were a strange transitional period to the Nick of today. While Disney Channel style sitcoms and teen pop did start to make its way into Nick's regular programming. The channel was still regularly airing weird, off-beat shows like Action League Now! And Ned's Declassified.

In 2006, after Nick's parent company, Viacom split from CBS, Herb resigned from his position as Nick President. Cyma, who's influence had been limited to just the TV Network up to this point, was given the reign of the entire Nickelodeon empire. And that's when Nickelodeon went into overdrive. Every terrible aspect and practice the brand had become infamous for, was all accelerated by Cyma's leadership. The SpongeBob standard, over-reliance on Dan Schnider, bland Disney-esque tween singing shows. It all happened under Cyma, and was further developed by Cyma. This was also the point where Nickelodeon rolled out its current logo, which infected not just the network, but all aspects of the brand, including its digital cable spin-offs who, up to that point had enjoyed a large degree of autonomy from the flagship network. Not anymore. Nicktoons, Nick Jr., and TeenNick all became homogenized dumping grounds for shows that Nickelodeon kicked off the air.

While Herb tried to maintain Nickelodeon's roots, while making conservative expansions, Cyma over-franchised the brand and ran it into the ground as a result.
 

TheJLeeTeam

Slacker Musketeer
Sep 9, 2018
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I highly doubt it.

In defense of the Zarghami era, It wasn’t all bad. While so much wrong happened with it such as poor treatment of cartoons, I think they were still taking bold risks and were very experimental in the stuff they greenlit. Which might have led to a gem like Harvey Beaks being greenlit. While they gave it terrible treatment and marketing at the very least it was greenlit and it has 52 episodes I can still rewatch if I want. Other stuff they greenlit were Sanjay & Craig, The Loud House (Which I’m not a fan of but a lot of people are), Legend of Korra, Welcome to the Wayne, the Hey Arnold, Zim, and Rocko movies (They didn’t just do Rugrats which they already milked), and even the recent Pony and Glitch Techs. If literally the only content they greenlit during this era was web show adaptations I wouldn’t like this era at all.

And honestly Harvey Beaks getting screwed over might be a blessing in disguise if that means they won’t ruin it by milking it in stupid ways like making a live action Harvey Beaks Movie? No Thanks.
 

Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
Let me be blunt: I don't see how that specific thing is anybody else's business. You ask me what kind of underwear they wear or if they cheat on their spouses I'll throw you the same level of side-eye. That's nasty gossip that doesn't effect or have anything to do with anyone on this board.

Edit: Just to be clear, I am not truly blaming the thread starter for asking the question. This is all stuff TMZ and "Blind Items" have taught society to normalize and think is perfectly fine. I'm here to offer the true perspective that it isn't. Because you won't hear a ton of people saying it.
 

ToonsJazzLover

Active Member
Jan 31, 2010
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I doubt it, most of Nick’s flaws has been showing as early as the Herb Scannell presidency, such as screwing shows over, and delaying new episodes for a long period of time, etc. It wasn’t until Cyma’s presidency that those flaws become more prominent.
 

TheMisterManGuy

Well-Known Member
Oct 23, 2014
1,216
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I doubt it, most of Nick’s flaws has been showing as early as the Herb Scannell presidency, such as screwing shows over, and delaying new episodes for a long period of time, etc. It wasn’t until Cyma’s presidency that those flaws become more prominent.
I'd like to think most of that was Cyma's doing. Remember, she was still running the main network at the time, even if she was working under Herb.
 

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