Former longtime Nickelodeon President Cyma Zarghami has unveiled her new venture, MiMO Studio, a full-service production and consultancy focused on kids and family content spanning live-action, animation and preschool.
As the venture’s name — short for mini movies — suggests, a main focus is being put on TV length original movies which kids respond to and which encourage co-viewing.
Zarghami took a little time to think about what she wanted to do next after leaving Nickelodeon last year. She ultimately opted to stay in the kids arena. “After spending 33 years entrenched in the kids business, I thought, in today’s incredibly disruptive universe, wouldn’t it be fun to be an entrepreneur, a maker and serve the same audience,” Zarghami told Deadline.
She is betting on herself and is self-funding the New York-based MiMO Studio for the first year, including its first project, a live-action movie based on Matt Christopher’s popular children’s book The Kid Who Only Hit Homers, which began production earlier this month. The contemporary take on the book centers on 13-year-old protagonist Sylvester Coddmeyer III (aka SYL), and a female pitcher.
“I found this property that I thought was such a great calling card for the kinds of projects that I want to make and the way I want to bring content to this audience,” Zarghami said.
Because of the film’s theme, she wanted to have it ready for baseball season, which led to the decision to move ahead with production instead of going through pitching and network development. Once there is footage to put together a trailer, Zarghami will take the project to the marketplace.
“It’s going to be easier to sell it when people see what it is,” she said.
Going forward, “I’m looking for partners, I’m looking for funding, I’m looking to do interesting deals with people who are interested in the same audience in the way I am,” Zarghami said.
Her company will work both with existing and original IP. Zarghami and her team have identified five other properties for development. MiMO’s slate will employ fast-to-market approach, emphasizing projects that inspire positive family values, driven by diverse storytelling. In addition to TV size movies, that includes limited event series, and series of stand-alone specials with recurring characters.
“MiMO Studio will be at the forefront of building a new franchise model for kids’ content in what is seeming more and more like a post-broadcast world,” Zarghami said. “It has been very rewarding to personally select IP that will come to life in keeping with my vision to super serve kids 11 and under in a new media landscape, one that is being primarily designed for the adult audience.”
MiMO plans to target both traditional and digital distribution platforms in the kids and family space.
“There is a lot of movement toward streaming now but there are plenty of people who still like linear TV, Zarghami said.
Potential buyers could even include her old network, Nickelodeon.
“We are interested in selling to anyone that would put our content in front of a kids audience,” she said.
With Zarghami at the helm, Nickelodeon logged a 22-year run as the number-one basic cable network for kids and total viewers. Properties with franchise potential that she put on the air at the Viacom net include SpongeBob SquarePants, iCarly, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Dora the Explorer and PAW Patrol.