Busy mogul Nick Cannon finds time for pillow talk with Mariah
By Leslie Bruce
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Don't call him Mr. Mariah.
Nick Cannon is one of the busiest men in Hollywood. He just extended his term as chairman of the teens-only TeenNick network through January 2012. He hosts summer's No. 1 show, NBC's "America's Got Talent," as well as his New York-based CBS Radio show, "Rollin' With Nick Cannon." And in his spare time, he produces and manages the pop group School Gyrls, makes his own music and travels on a U.S. comedy tour.
AT 29, DO YOU FIND IT A STRUGGLE TO CONVINCE OLDER EXECUTIVES TO TAKE YOU SERIOUSLY?
Nick Cannon: Instantly, people see me as talent. They don't want to see me as a businessman. If I come in here with jeans, tennis shoes, jewelry and a hat to the back, I look like I'm 17. I dress in a suit to make sure you can separate me from the interns. If I dress as an executive, people react to that. And I just switched to a Blackberry. I used to have my Google device, but everybody would ask why I'm carrying a toy around.
YOU JOINED THE FORMER N NETWORK IN MARCH 2009 AND SPEARHEADED ITS REBRANDING AS TEENNICK. WHY THE INTEREST IN RUNNING A NETWORK AND DEVELOPING PROGRAMING FOR TEENS?
Cannon: If Oprah can have her own network, why can't I? Seriously, though, Viacom has been my family since I was a kid. I was the youngest staff writer on television at 17. By 19, I was executive producing. I represent that teen tastemaker, that MTV generation. I felt like I could take the network to another level. Ultimately, I told them that they should let me run this channel. They could have said, "Nick, what are you smoking? We're not going to give you a network." But they took the gamble.
DO YOU FEEL PRESSURE TO CREATE RESPONSIBLE YET RELATABLE TELEVISION FOR TEENS THAT ISN'T "JERSEY SHORE?"
Cannon: I definitely feel that responsibility, and I take this job extremely seriously. We're focusing on the transition period of what kids are watching in between "SpongeBob" and "Jersey Shore." I wouldn't want my 13-year-old watching that show. We share the same demographic as MTV, so we can push the envelope. We'll talk about teenage pregnancy, but in a way where it's educational. We won't exploit it or glamorize it. We just document life as it actually happens. We're the responsible MTV. Continued...