Nick Cannon puts ‘halo’ on teen heroes with new awards show; talks about new job, marriageBy Nekesa Mumbi Moody, AP
Thursday, December 10, 2009
TeenNick’s Cannon puts a ‘halo’ on kid heroes
NEW YORK — At 29, Nick Cannon has been a standup comedian, movie star, TV show host, comedy show star, producer and rapper — he may have Diddy beat for the title of mogul with the most hats.
Cannon has been working hard at his latest job, chairman of TeenNick — the younger version of Nickelodeon — that recently became a 24-hour network.
In an interview this week, Cannon talked about the TeenNick Halo Awards, what it’s like to be a network chairman, and trading ideas with his wife, Mariah Carey. But he’s already mapping out his next job after his entertainment days are over.
“I think after I accomplish what I want to in entertainment, then it’s philanthropy — try to make the world a better place,” says Cannon, nattily dressed in a gold-colored pinstriped suit.
He’s getting a head start with the Halo Awards. Instead of yet another awards show feting celebrities, stars like Justin Timberlake and LeBron James pay tribute to amazing teens doing amazing things. Alicia Keys and Hayden Panettiere also participate in the show, which premieres Friday (8 p.m. EST).
AP: It must have been hard deciding on which teens to honor. What made you pick out these kids?
Cannon: The most difficult part about the Halo Awards was choosing only four recipients. I mean, we did our research and found hundreds and thousands of amazing teens, young people doing remarkable things in their community to uplift people and inspire people. To say that we whittled it down to four, I think we kind of created this squad across the nation of “Halo agents” … agents of change. These are just the first four you are going to see … it’s like the teen Nobel Peace Prize.
AP: What pressures do you have to deal with as chairman of TeenNick?
Cannon: I don’t really recognize any of the pressures, to me it’s a fun job. I mean it’s definitely challenging to take a network to the next level and to wanna be in the same level as the MTVs and even the older Nickelodeon. … There’s definitely people watching me to see what I’m gonna do — “Is he gonna take this job serious? Is it just a vanity thing?” … There are those little things, but I don’t pay attention to any of that, I’ve just got to stay focused, keep my eyes on the prize.
AP: Do you feel that you have to prove yourself because so many artists have vanity projects?
Cannon: Early on, when I first took the job, I wanted people to understand that this isn’t just some gimmick or this isn’t just some game. I wanna really do it, so even in my everyday life, I had to change a bunch of stuff about the way I presented myself — take my artist hat off and put my business hat on. When I have my artist hat, I want to show up an hour late, and be relaxed and kind of do whatever, but when you’re running a company, you have to show up on time, you have to dress the part and be the part, you gotta pay attention to everyone around you and focus on being the leader instead of being the focal point.
AP: You are on Twitter a lot, do you worry that you ever go too far?
Cannon: I always go too far on Twitter. … I feel like it was kind of built for me. … I’m so real and there’s so many different sides of me, that one minute you might get an inspirational Bible quote from me and one minute you might get a quote from the movie “American Pimp.” … I think everybody has that and I think that’s what people are realizing from these social networks and being able to connect with celebrities and artists and people in the entertainment community directly … for the followers, they get to see who you really are.
AP: Mariah says you gave her suggestions on her album, does she ever give you suggestions on your job?
Cannon: Absolutely. I mean, we’re partners in every sense. I could never play a part in her music career, I always say I’m not even worthy to be in the studio with her, so I try to keep my opinions to a minimum. But we’re two creative people all the time, so if she sees me doing something in the studio or working on a script or something like that, she’s always given quick little thoughts and little ideas and vice versa.
AP: You are on the verge of 30. How are you going to keep in touch with your TeenNick audience?
Cannon: I’m old! I’m gonna be 30! Man! It’s weird. I mean, I feel no different from when I was 19 years old, and I think that’s another area me and Mariah kind of have (in common), that youth thing going on. … It’s all about having fun. I don’t do anything unless I’m having fun with it … I have to enjoy it. … You’re as young as you feel, and I’ll always been that silly little kid who’s trying to play pranks on people.
Nickelodeon is owned by Viacom Inc.
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