Company Launches, Partnerships & Deals
Kiliaen Van Rensselaer is leaving Fox Television Group to launch Insurrection Media, a digital TV studio with a goal to create content to be shopped to OTT providers as the first window of distribution. Allen DeBevoise’s Third Wave Capital Partners made an equity capital investment in Insurrection, and will serve on the board of advisors.
Disney’s Maker Studios has acquired start-up Instafluence as a way to connect social influencers with advertisers. Instafluence reports 10,000 sponsored posts on popular networks, resulting in more than 150 million engagements for brands including PacSun, Crossmedia and VH1.
Vice Media inked a multiyear deal to provide content for Verizon’s upcoming Internet TV service, including exclusive programming. Verizon’s new service is expected to launch later this year, with Viacom, AwesomenessTV, Scripps Networks Interactive, as well as ESPN and CBS Sports for college sports programming. They’ve also recently locked in deals with Spotify, Samsung and Snapchat.
Comcast and Electronic Arts (EA) have partnered to develop an HD gaming platform on X1 called Xfinity Games. It will be streamed over the Internet to customers’ X1 set-top boxes and the games would count under Xfinity Internet data plans.
The Wall Group, an artist management and consulting agency has been acquired by WME | IMG. The agency also advises commercial and luxury brands such as P&G, Unilever, Target, and Chanel. The Wall Group will continue to operate as a separate entity with its leadership team, including Founder Brooke Wall and Directors Ali Bird and Kate Stirling, continuing in their current roles.
Alchemy has acquired ANconnect and Anderson Digital and has formed a strategic alliance with ARC Entertainment. As part of the deal Charlie Anderson has become an investor in Alchemy. Distribution company Alchemy is an aggregator for Walmart and Target with an annual content flow to more than 1,300 films and 3,000-plus television episodes. ARC is a family and faith-based supplier to Walmart among others. In addition, Alchemy will financially support the Bentonville Film Festival.
Forrest Lucas and Ali Afshar have partnered together to launch ESX Entertainment, a production company with an aim to develop and finance three to six commercial projects a year across feature films and digital/TV series. This is Lucas’ first foray into film. He is the founder and owner of Lucas Oil Products, MAVTV and Lucas Cattle Company. Afshar’s pre-existing ESX Productions will fold into the company with its upcoming films including the drama The Wrong Side of Right with Lea Thompson, the coming-of-age story The Wizard starring Jon Voight and Born To Race films.
VOD platform MUBI has signed a multiyear distribution deal with Sony Pictures Television exclusive to the UK market and will feature classic titles including Taxi Driver, Closer, Dr.Strangelove and Snatch. MUBI’s USP is offering viewers a selective service like an online film festival, with a new film highlighted every day. MUBI has recently partnered with eOne, Icon and StudioCanal.
Keshet International (KI), the global distribution and production arm of Keshet Media Group, has established Keshet Studios, the company’s new LA-based studio which will oversee development, production, packaging, promotion and sales of KI’s scripted programming activities in the US. Veteran television executive Peter Traugott has been named Keshet Studios’ President of Scripted, while Rachel Kaplan also joins as EVP. Traugott joins Keshet Studios directly from TBD Entertainment, a television production company he founded, and will oversee the new studio’s slate of scripted projects with Kaplan, who also comes from TBD. Keshet Studios is represented by WME’s Rick Rosen and Marc Korman.
Broad Green Pictures has tapped Dave Saxena as Chief Investment Officer of Broad Green Investments, the studio’s new private equity and venture capital arm. He will run the company’s investment efforts focused on media, technology and entertainment businesses that are complementary to the studio’s core creative and distribution operations. Marc Danon has been named the company’s President of Acquisitions & Co-Productions. He was previously Lionsgate’s SVP of Acquisitions & Business Development.
Athina Rachel Tsangari has become the third filmmaker in residence at the Film Society of Lincoln Center. During her residency, Tsangari will be working on White Knuckles, described as a screwball action-thriller that centers on two criminal sisters. Her newest feature, Chevalier, a buddy comedy set aboard a luxury yacht astray on the Aegean Sea, will have its world premiere in August at the Locarno l Film Festival.
Stuart Brown has been named the Head of Programming & Acquisitions at the BFI to report to Creative Director Heather Stewart. He was promoted from his post as Head of Events. His new aim will be to maximize the cultural and commercial performance of BFI cinemas and BFI distribution across UK theatrical, non-theatrical, DVD, VOD and international tours of BFI programs.
Kori Bernards will be leaving Universal Pictures after seven years as chief communications strategist and lead spokesperson. Universal hopes to announce a new head of communications in the coming weeks. Bernards will be staying on for the transition and will continue to serve as an advisor through the process.
Starz has tapped TWC’s CMO Jeffrey Hirsch to be their President of Global Marketing and Product Planning. He’ll report to Starz CEO Chris Albrecht and oversee new products and services, boost awareness of Starz’ original programming, and help with strategy and distribution.
Alec Botnick has been named the VP of Comedy Development at CBS TV Studios. He was previously an agent of Scripted TV at WME.
Chris Salvaterra is now a Production Executive of Miniseries at HBO. He was previously a producer at Katonah Pictures.
Eli Shibley has been tapped by IM Global’s TV division as their new President, International Distribution and Co-Productions. He will work with IM Global founder and CEO Stuart Ford and IM Global TV president Mark Stern. He will oversee sales of their scripted slate as well as acquisitions of third-party scripted and unscripted projects from U.S., UK, and international content partners.
Chanel Carmona has been promoted from manager to associate director of development, original series at CNN. Lizzie Kerner is the new VP of Original Series at CNN and was upped from Sr. Director.
Jocelyn Hamilton has been named the President of eOne TV. She was previously the VP of Original Programming & Production, Corus Entertainment.
Dean Possenniskie is taking over for Tom Davidson in his role as A+E Networks UK Managing Director after his departure July 20. Possenniskie is a board member of the A+E/Sky joint venture and will continue in that role along with his new responsibilities.
Eli Shibley has been named the President of International Distribution & Co-Productions, IM Global Television. He was previously the SVP of International Media & Formats at Electus.
Shelly Tseng has been upped from exec. assistant to manager of talent development and programming at GSN.
Jonathan Hewes has been named the CEO of Mentorn Media and Pioneer Productions in London. He was previously the head of International at Wall to Wall.
Angelique Mais is the new VP of Creative Services, TV One. She was formerly the Creative Director, Brand Creative at A&E Networks.
Christel S. Miller has been upped from Manager to Director of Current Programming, NBC Entertainment.
BBC Worldwide North America has tapped Dawn Williamson to be their SVP, Advertising Sales and Tim Wastney to VP, Advertising Sales. Williamson will handle the delivery of ad sales revenues for BBC.com in North America and global sales originating from the U.S. for BBC.com and BBC World News, along with TopGear.com and bbcgoodfood.com. Formerly a VP at BBC Advertising, Wastney will drive ad sales across all the BBC’s key businesses both nationally and internationally.
Kerri Hendry has been named the VP of Current Programming at Lionsgate Television. She was tapped from eOne TV where Kerri was Director, Current Programming.
Jane Rimer has been named the Chief of International Business & Creative Development, Insight Productions. She was previously a consultant there.
Hannah Wyatt has been upped from Creative Director to Managing Director of Boundless Productions in London.
Vivian Yin has been named FremantleMedia China’s CEO. She was previously the VP of Production and Chief Representative for Star China.
Management, PR, Agencies
Entertainment agency United Entertainment Group has promoted Mary Scott to president of sports and brand experiences and Robby Wells to CSO. Scott had been managing director, while Wells was previously executive vice president of strategy and creative development. The agency has also brought on Gabe Banner as SVP of brand experiences, Nicole Bradley as VP of communications, Dave Santaniello as SVP of rights and partnerships and Melanie Washington as VP of brand experiences.
ICM Partners has hired Hilary Baum McQuaide, formerly a partner at Skouras Agency, as an agent in their Motion Picture Production Department. Rebecca Ewing, previously of Intellectual Artists Management was tapped as an agent in ICM’s Motion Picture Literary Department. Taryn Ariel, formerly a comedy agent based in APA’s New York office, has been tapped as a talent agent focusing on comedy development. Kati Kolben has been promoted to agent status and has been with ICM since 2011.
United Artists Media Group, the joint venture from Hearst, MGM and producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey has tapped William Eide as their SVP Corporate Development and he will report to CEO Burnett and COO Brian Edwards. In his new role he will evaluate and execute new growth initiatives including organic opportunities, acquisitions and investments.
Music, Digital, Publishing, Misc.
The Chernin Group hired Mike Kerns as President of Digital. He will also join the board of Otter Media, the company’s venture with AT+T. Kerns was previously at Yahoo, where he was Senior Vice President of Product, Homepage and Verticals.
Deborah K. Bothun formerly the Entertainment, Media & Communications U.S. Leader at PwC has had her role expanded from U.S. to Global.
Jeff Ivers has left Participant Media as their COO. No word yet on his next role.
Polly Auritt has been named the VP of Scripted Programming at Fullscreen. She hails from MTV where she was VP of Scripted Series Development.
Mashable has hired Juana Summers as a politics editor ahead of the 2016 elections, a new position at the website. Summers previously covered Congress at NPR.
Adam Soldinger has been hired by The Huffington Post as VP in charge of video programming and operations. Previously he served as the head of business development and strategic partnerships for Say Media’s digital magazine publishing platform Tempest and prior to that he was a VP at Complex Media.
Don Steele, previously the SVP of Fan Engagement & Multi-Platform Marketing at Comedy Central has been tapped by Tumblr as their new head of Audience Development. Evan Minskoff is coming onboard as well as the new Head of Marketing & Operations.
Damon Williams has been upped from VP to SVP of Programming Strategy & Partnerships at Music Now.