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Gary Marsh: Life after Miley

Youth Impact Report 2011: Channeling Talent

Impact: Promoted to the top of Disney Channels Worldwide in September as president and chief creative officer.
Next: Several series and movie premieres, but no launch more important than that of Disney Junior as a separate 24-hour network in early 2012.
Causes: City of Hope. “It’s the intersection of great medicine and great humanity,” Marsh says.

The ancient portion of Gary Marsh’s resume includes a stint helping to craft media for Walter Mondale’s presidential campaign, so perhaps there was always a twinkle of Fantasyland in Marsh’s eye. But one wouldn’t necessarily have assumed that would translate into a fruitful 23-year career at Disney, capped by Marsh’s promotion to president and chief creative officer of Disney Channels Worldwide in September.

“What kept me here is a better question than what drew me here,” Marsh says. “People say, ‘Don’t you feel stuck in a box creatively?’ I say, ‘Every network has a box.’ The box at Disney is about helping kids grow up healthier and happier, creating positive family experiences, replicating the joys of ‘Wonderful World of Color.’ I like this box. It fits me, it fits my sensibility, it fits my creative, cultural, ethical aesthetic.”

Suffice it to say, the feeling’s mutual, with Marsh’s promotion reflecting the company’s faith in his ability to capitalize on Disney’s enviable success in television and related platforms, domestically and globally.

For starters, Disney Channel has achieved all-time Stateside highs in total viewers, as well as with the 6-11 and 9-14 demos, despite Miley Cyrus’ farewell from the network in January.

“I think a lot of people assumed that the end of ‘Hannah Montana’ meant the end of our success,” Marsh says. “If anything, 2011 proved that we have strength coming from many, many series and movies, not just ‘Hannah Montana.’?What we all challenge ourselves to do on a daily basis is to reinvent what we’ve done successfully, to avoid the complacency of success.”

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