Having established itself as the dominant player for live-action kids programming with "High School Musical" and "Hannah Montana," Disney Channel is now challenging Nickelodeon for the crown in animated series.
Disney Channel has poached veteran Nickelodeon animation executive Eric Coleman to lead the channel's aggressive push in the area as senior vp development at Walt Disney Television Animation.
Meanwhile, Meredith Roberts, who most recently has shepherded Disney Channel's animated series development as senior vp creative affairs at Walt Disney TV Animation, is moving to DisneyToon Studios, where she will serve as senior vp and GM. In the newly created position, she will oversee the company's daily operations, reporting to Walt Disney Animation Studios executive vp production Andrew Millstein.
Coleman, who has worked at Nickelodeon for 15 years, overseeing the development and production of such hit shows as "SpongeBob SquarePants" and "Avatar," will start at Disney on Feb. 4. He will report to Disney Channels Worldwide entertainment president Gary Marsh.
"Bringing Eric to Disney is an absolute coup," Marsh said. "There is no executive in the entire television animation space who has the creative vision, the credibility and the track record that Eric does."
Coleman's mandate is to spearhead development of animated short-form and long-form series targeting kids 6-11 for Disney Channel, Toon Disney and Jetix platforms, which reach more than 219 million homes worldwide. He also will oversee Walt Disney TV Animation's casting and music departments.
In addition, he will work with Disney Channel and Walt Disney TV Animation's international partners.