Former Disney chief promotes Nick at Nite show

The unpredictable post-Disney career of Michael Eisner took him Wednesday to the Nick at Nite panel at the Television Critics Assn. confab, where he made the case for the network’s upcoming primetime series, “Glenn Martin, DDS.”

The stop-motion animation comedy stars Kevin Nealon, Catherine O’Hara and Judy Greer and will premiere Aug. 17 at 8 p.m. The former Disney chairman-CEO co-created the series with Eric Fogel (“Celebrity Deathmatch”) and Alex Berger (“K-Ville”) and cold-called Nickelodeon/MTV Kids and Family Group prexy Cyma Zarghami to pitch the show to her.

“I’m so glad we liked it,” Zarghami said, “because I really didn’t want to have to say no.”

Since leaving Disney at mid-decade, Eisner has been peripatetic enough that one reporter at TCA asked him, “Are you trying to find yourself?” Eisner’s Tornante Co. has invested time and funds in a variety of areas, from new-media studio Vuguru to Topps trading cards, and he has hosted the business and entertainment program “Conversations With Michael Eisner” for CNBC.

Eisner said the germ for “Glenn Martin, DDS” had roots in the Rankin-Bass holiday specials that he saw develop in the 1960s.

“I had an idea — it’s no different than what I’ve done my whole career,” Eisner said. “But instead of having 120,000 people at Disney to help me, I have to figure out how to get it done.

“I believe this show will bring stop-motion animation back to the forefront,” he added. “I think this is going to change once again what the audience craves … because it’s funny.”

“Glenn Martin, DDS” will air firstrun episodes on four consecutive nights during its premiere week, then rerun those episodes in a two-hour block on sister Viacom net Comedy Central Aug. 21. It will ordinarily air on Mondays.

Zarghami, who described the tone of the series as “a cross between ‘Family Ties’ and ‘National Lampoon’s Vacation,’ ” is hoping the series will unite Nick’s older and younger viewers in the way that reruns of such shows as “Malcolm in the Middle” have.

“While there seems on the surface to be a veneer of cynicism,” she said, “there’s a lot of heart in those sitcoms, and I think that’s what appealing about this.”

Also on Wednesday, Viacom nets MTV, TV Land and Comedy Central presented their latest offerings. MTV introduced “Gone Too Far” with Adam “DJ AM” Goldstein, as well as “The Buried Life,” a sort of “Bucket List” for the younger generation. Joan Rivers, hit-and-miss riffing to the early morning TCA crowd, tubthumped her “How’d You Get So Rich?” for TV Land, and Comedy Central promoted “The Jeff Dunham Show,” which will premiere Oct. 22.

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