Nickelodeon lifer and The Adventures of Pete and Pete co-creator has a brand new position, created just for him.
Chris Viscardi, 53, is now the senior vice president of content development for Nickelodeon franchise properties, in charge of “creative strategies” for the network’s players like SpongeBob SquarePants, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Dora the Explorer, and other aging cartoon stars. Nickelodeon has tasked Viscardi with rebooting and spinning off its vast library in a bid to recapture their former pop-cultural glory.
This likely means that Viscardi and Nickelodeon’s initial development — a new original Hey Arnold! TV movie, in collaboration with series creator Craig Bartlett — is merely the first of many reboots to come. It makes sense to expect that Nickelodeon’s multi-platform throwback block, The Splat, isn’t the last reboot we’ve seen of Viacom’s big-ticket properties.
“Chris is a creator who innately understands the Nickelodeon DNA and our audience because of his long history with us,” said Russell Hicks, Nick’s president of content development and production, to whom Viscardi will report. “As someone who has worked on two generations of Nickelodeon hit shows, Chris is the perfect person to manage our most important franchises and reimagine stories and characters from our library for today’s kids and for the Millennial generation who grew up on them. It’s also incredibly exciting to pair Chris with another master storyteller, Craig Bartlett, to bring our iconic Hey Arnold! back to life in a new, modern way.”
Working out of Burbank, Viscardi will work with Bartlett, who will executive produce and write the new Hey Arnold! movie, which will “resolve unanswered questions and plotlines” about Arnold’s parents left hanging after the series wound down in 2004. For his part, Viscardi remains an executive producer of Sanjay and Craig, now in its third season, mentoring creators and co-executive producers Jim Dirschberger and Jay Howell.
With Will McRobb, the veteran Viscardi co-created The Adventures of Pete and Pete, which first launched on Nick in 1989 as humorous interstitials, before evolving into a surreal half-hour series running from 1993 to 1996 and attracting the likes of Iggy Pop, Debbie Harry, Adam West, Steve Buscemi, Janeane Garofalo, Chris Elliott, J. K. Simmons, Michael Stipe, and more to its cast. McRobb and Viscardi also co-created Nick’s animated variety series Kablam!, and also co-wrote the screenplay for Universal’s CGI adaptation of Kate DiCamillo’s lyrical fantasy novel, The Tale of Despereaux.
But the future is where Viscardi may yet have the biggest impact, as he works with Nickelodeon’s library and talent to reboot the network’s cultural capital. Whether that includes recharging The Ren and Stimpy Show, for which McRobb wrote eight episodes, or the essential Rugrats and Invader Zim, time will tell.