Disney Channel President Worldwide Gary Marsh told THR. To what do you attribute the steep ratings decline at Nickelodeon? Look, people thought Disney Channel was going to fall off the cliff when Hannah Montana went away because it was such a defining show. There was concern in external corridors and even a whisper campaign internally, and we were so aware of that that we made sure we stacked the deck. We built not one or two but four series that we all thought would take over the lifting, and they have. If you know there’s a fall coming, prop yourself up, create a cushion.
What qualities do you look for in kids to ensure they are fit for Disney Channel stardom? When you look at a Shia LaBeouf, Selena Gomez or Demi Lovato, there’s a quality of transparency, and you can connect with them across the room. It comes from a confidence and a certain kind of charisma. When Miley Cyrus came in the room at 12½, she was as green as the grass, but something was beaming through her eyes that made us feel like we have to take a shot.
For Hannah Montana, it had come down to her and another girl, who was a skilled sitcom actress, and there was an absolute split vote. Many of the people who had to make the show wanted the sure thing, the girl who could hit the jokes, land the laugh. But I wrote an e-mail to everybody that said: ‘Our job is not to make shows, it’s to build franchises and stars. We may have a drink a few years from now and talk about whether we made the right choice, but I’m saying to you that we’re going to hire Miley.’