Snapchat Exec Cheryl Idell Snapped Up for Post at WarnerMedia

WarnerMedia Entertainment has named former Snapchat exec Cheryl Idell EVP and chief research officer of WarnerMedia Entertainment and Direct-to-Consumer.

She will report to Bob Greenblatt, chairman, WarnerMedia Entertainment and Direct-to-Consumer.

Idell will be responsible for overseeing the functional areas of research across WarnerMedia Entertainment, centralizing expertise in viewership, content, and strategic market research; insights; and analytics. Her purview will also include product research and all aspects of research for the upcoming WarnerMedia Direct-to-Consumer offering HBO Max.

“As the evolution of video consumption continues to move at a rapid pace, staying at the forefront of technology, consumer trends and future capabilities is imperative for our success,” Greenblatt said in a statement. “Cheryl’s background in technology and entertainment makes her the perfect candidate to lead our research teams and build an industry-leading research practice that will take us into the future.”

“I could not be more excited about the opportunity to work for Bob and alongside the exceptional executives and creators at WarnerMedia,” Idell said in a statement. “It is such a thrilling time to be working in this business and WarnerMedia Entertainment has emerged as one of the biggest, boldest players through creativity and innovation. The company’s best-in-class brands, networks and programs make this a truly irresistible opportunity. I can’t wait to lead this incredible research team and help shape the future of audience insights and engagement through a combination of linear, streaming and direct-to-consumer data, research and analytics.”

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Idell most recently served as head of U.S. vertical measurement at Snap Inc. where she led Snapchat’s measurement strategy and the resulting execution across all U.S. advertiser clients. Idell’s team was responsible for providing solutions and strategic guidance to advertisers on measurement and optimization of the online and offline impact of Snapchat advertising.

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Before her stint at Snapchat, Idell led Mindshare’s West Coast offices, working with clients across a diverse array of sectors including studio/entertainment, consumer packaged goods, spirits, retail and travel/hospitality. She was also the EVP of client solutions for Nielsen, holding leadership roles focused on driving Nielsen’s revenue growth through development of media analytics and research products, solutions, strategies and practices. Prior to joining Nielsen, Idell held executive level positions at 20th Century Fox, IAG Research and Initiative Media.

 

Jim Henson Company Expands Role of Exec Anna Moorefield

The Jim Henson Company has expanded the responsibilities of long-time executive Anna Moorefield, VP of global distribution, to head all content distribution strategies for the company across all platforms.

Moorefield’s new scope of responsibilities include overseeing sales of all forms of media across TV, cable, home video and theatrical in all territories.

She reports to Chris Lytton, COO and EVP of strategy and business affairs.

Based at The Jim Henson Company headquarters in Hollywood, Calif., Moorefield oversees the distribution of current preschool hits such as “Dinosaur Train,” “Dot.,” “Doozers,” “Splash and Bubbles” and “Word Party,” as well as classics such as “Fraggle Rock” and “The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss.” Moorefield also manages the distribution of primetime fantasy/sci-fi properties, including Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal, “The Storyteller” and “Farscape.”

Most recently, Moorefield was responsible for the launch of numerous Jim Henson Company classic and other properties on Prime Video. Through Amazon Prime Video Direct, a service that enables filmmakers and studios to reach Amazon’s global audience, she spearheaded the creation of a one-stop destination for viewers of Henson properties.

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“Anna joined us with a strong background in digital distribution, and her efforts have made a tremendous impact on our overall digital strategy, including the roll-out of new brands as well as re-introducing our revered catalog of classics to existing fans and new audiences,” said Lytton in a statement. “Anna is deeply passionate about our content, and her dedication and enthusiasm make her especially well-suited to take the reins of our global distribution business.”

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Before joining the Jim Henson Company in 2015, Moorefield served as an account manager for the international television and digital distribution team at Lionsgate. In addition to building partnerships with platforms such as Netflix, iTunes and Google Play, she also worked closely with her counterparts in linear and digital distribution to develop and execute broader sales strategies in the Latin American and Asian markets.

Veronica Rogers Appointed SVP of Business Opps at Sony Interactive Entertainment

Veronica Rogers will oversee global business operations as the new SVP of business operations for Sony Interactive Entertainment, the company responsible for the PlayStation brand and family of products.

She will report to president and CEO Jim Ryan and will lead Sony Interactive Entertainment’s go-to-market organization globally. Rogers will help drive business growth, lead strategic initiatives, and evolve the culture of business operations from its previously regionalized structure into a single global system.

“Veronica brings a wealth of experience leading global sales organizations, managing strategic partnerships, developing innovative business models, and building world class teams,” said Ryan in a statement. “She will play a crucial role in scaling the business and I’m thrilled she has brought her expertise to the PlayStation family.”

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Rogers will be responsible for global alignment in sales operations, both physical and digital, as well as lead PlayStation subscription services. She has nearly 20 years of experience leading business development, strategic planning, and sales operations at large global organizations including Microsoft and Dell Technologies.

“The PlayStation brand is one of the most beloved in the world and I am excited to join a company that has such a passionate community, legendary history, and an amazing leadership team,” said Rogers in a statement. “My experience leading global sales organizations will help excel the PlayStation business and deliver the best gaming experiences to fans across the world.”

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Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) is responsible for the PlayStation brand and family of products and services. The 25-year-old PlayStation brand includes PlayStation 4, PlayStation VR, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Store, PlayStation Plus, PlayStation Video, PlayStation Music, PlayStation Now, PlayStation Vue, and PlayStation software titles from SIE Worldwide Studios. The PlayStation 5 game system, which includes a UHD Blu-ray player, is scheduled to debut in the upcoming holiday season.

Jori Arancio Named to Communications Post at HBO Max, TNT, TBS and truTV

Jori Arancio has been named EVP of communications for HBO Max, TNT, TBS and truTV.

She will report to Kevin Brockman, EVP of global communications for WarnerMedia Entertainment and Direct-to-Consumer.

Arancio was previously SVP of communications at ABC and ABC Studios.

In her new role, Arancio will be the communications point person for the entertainment units under Kevin Reilly, chief content officer of HBO Max, and president of TNT, TBS and truTV, working closely with his teams.  Her first day in the new job will be Jan. 6.

“I had the unique pleasure of not only working with Jori for 21 years while we were both at Disney, but also promoting her into a variety of jobs where she never failed to impress,” Brockman said in a statement. “She is one of the most strategic, thoughtful, and progressive communication executives in the business, and I’m thrilled that she’ll now bring her expertise to bear on behalf of our new streaming service and cable networks. It’s great to be working with her again.”

“From the moment I met Jori, I knew she had the unique mix of strategic focus and personal flair that makes her uniquely qualified to lead our communications and successfully collaborate with our executives and creative talent across our portfolio of media networks, while simultaneously nurturing the critical launch and growth of HBO Max,” Reilly said in a statement. “Jori will make a great addition to the senior team.”

“I am honored to be entrusted to lead the fantastic communications teams at HBO Max, TNT, TBS and truTV,” Arancio added in a statement. “I look forward to working with them to launch the streaming service and to continue to drive awareness of the great programming at the cable networks. I’m especially excited to work with Kevin Reilly, a known trailblazer with a clear vision for his brands who knows how to create cultural impact with content, as well as the talented executives on his team.  It is also a privilege to have the opportunity to once again work with Kevin Brockman.  He is an incredible leader who brings out the best in people, creates successful teams and garners impactful results. I look forward to starting this new chapter in January.”

Arancio worked for the Walt Disney Co. for 21 years. Most recently, as SVP of communications for ABC Entertainment and ABC Studios, she was responsible for all strategic corporate communication efforts, consumer press campaigns, awards outreach and talent relations for the two business units. During her tenure in this position, she shaped critical strategy and creative consumer campaigns for “The Bachelor” franchise, “Grey’s Anatomy,” “A Million Little Things,” “The Conners,” and “Live in Front of a Studio Audience,” among others. She also helped launch the No. 1 comedy of 2018, “Roseanne”; “The Good Doctor”; and a successful relaunch of “American Idol.”

Allied Vaughn VP Richard Skillman to Retire

Richard Skillman, VP of manufacture-on-demand service Allied Vaughn Entertainment, has announced that he will retire.

“It is with bittersweet news that I share with you the news that I will be retiring at the end of this month,” he wrote in its latest newsletter. “I recently celebrated my 40th year with the Allied Vaughn organization and have been proud to be involved in its evolution from the early days of film processing to today’s leading technologies in entertainment distribution. I am looking forward to traveling in the coming year with my family, many know my passion for film location adventures around the world, so you may hear from me around the locations of a famous film secret agent.

“I have treasured my working relationship with all our customers and wish you all the best of success in 2020.”

Allied Vaughn creates on-demand Blu-rays and DVDs for a long list of studios in the home entertainment market.

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Roku CFO to Step Down

Roku Dec. 16 announced that CFO Steve Louden plans to step down after helping the company hire his successor.

Louden joined Roku as CFO in 2015 and “played an important role in establishing Roku as a fast-growing public company,” according to a company press release.

“He intends to return home to the Seattle area with his family after assisting with a smooth transition,” according to the release.

“Steve has been a valuable member of our leadership team. He managed our finances through our transition to a public company and rapid expansion into new areas of streaming,” said Anthony Wood, Roku founder and CEO, in a statement. “I look forward to working with Steve during the transition as we hire our next CFO and continue to execute our strategy and build value for our customers, employees and shareholders.”

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“I’m very proud of Roku’s accomplishments,” Louden said in a statement. “Given the company’s strong financial position and exciting growth plans and my desire to relocate with my family back to Seattle, this is the right time for me to help Roku bring on a new financial leader.”

Disney+ Appoints Chris Loveall to International Content Post

Disney+ has appointed international programming executive Chris Loveall to the position of VP of content — international.

Loveall will report into Matt Brodlie, SVP of international content development, working closely with him and Disney Direct-to-Consumer and International’s regional teams on the development and production of original scripted and unscripted series, as well as acquisitions for all markets outside of the United States.

“Chris has great instincts and a deep understanding of storytelling opportunities in the international marketplace,” Brodlie said in a statement. “He will be a tremendous asset as we grow a rich, diverse slate of original content that builds on the Disney+ storytelling ethos in ways that are unique to each of our international markets.”

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“I’m excited to be part of the Disney+ team and look forward to working with them to identify and develop stories that resonate with fans of the service around the world,” Loveall said in a statement.

Loveall most recently served as VP of international programming for AMC Networks, including AMC, SundanceTV and BBC America, and was responsible for the development of original international commissions and co-productions as well as select acquisitions for each network. For SundanceTV, he oversaw the co-productions “Liar” with ITV and “Rosehaven” and “Cleverman” with the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Prior to joining the AMC Networks group, Loveall served as VP of original programming at Pivot, developing scripted drama, comedy and animation projects, as well as overseeing international co-productions including “Fortitude” with Sky Atlantic and “Please Like Me” with the Australian Broadcasting Corp. He has also held a number of programming-focused positions at ABC Signature Studios, The CW and other production companies.

EMA Elects Officers, Appoints Board Members

Cameron Douglas, VP of home entertainment, Fandango, has been re-elected chairman of the home entertainment trade group the Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA). Douglas will be serving his second term as chairman.

Joining Douglas as officers are vice chair Suyin Lim, senior director, content acquisitions and partnerships, PlayStation Video; secretary Pedro Guiterrez Jr., director, digital stores movies and TV business and category management, Microsoft Corp.; and treasurer Michele Edelman, head of growth, Premiere Digital Services.

Eric Opeka

Bill Kotzman, Google/YouTube’s partner product manager, TV and Film; Erick Opeka, president, Cinedigm Digital Networks; and Jason Peterson, CEO of GoDigital Medial Group, will also serve on the association’s executive committee as at-large members.

Amazon returns to the EMA’s board, now represented by senior product manager Jude Fitzmorris.

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Other returning board members are Amit Balan, head of marketing at Vudu, and Marty Graham, SVP at ComScore.

Three members newly appointed board members are Opeka, Edelman and Elissa Brown, VP of finance and operations at Movies Anywhere.

“The companies on EMA’s board of director reflect the variety of delivery mechanisms and business models in our vibrant industry,” said Mark Fisher, EMA president and CEO. “Each director brings an important perspective, and their wealth of experience will benefit the membership as EMA continues to be the forum for the home entertainment industry.”

The EMA is a not-for-profit international trade association. Members include digital retailers, MVPDs, AVOD and SVOD networks and channels, platforms, companies creating and/or distributing content for these channels of distribution, and companies providing services or technology for the use of others in this community. EMA was established in April 2006 through the merger of the Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA) and the Interactive Entertainment Merchants Association (IEMA).

More ViacomCBS Execs Announced

CBS and Viacom Nov. 18 announced additional senior appointments to ViacomCBS corporate leadership, effective upon closing of the merger.

Alex Berkett, SVP, corporate development and strategy, Viacom, will become EVP, corporate development and strategy, leading ViacomCBS’ efforts to identify, pursue and execute strategic growth opportunities, including acquisitions, partnerships, investments and joint ventures, across all of ViacomCBS’ businesses and geographies.

Nancy Phillips will serve as EVP, chief people officer, and lead the ViacomCBS global human resources organization. Phillips joins the company from Nielsen, where she served as chief human resources officer.

Marva Smalls, EVP, global head of inclusion strategy, Viacom, will serve as EVP, global head of inclusion of ViacomCBS, driving initiatives and fostering partnerships that promote and advance diversity and inclusion for ViacomCBS enterprise-wide both with internal and external stakeholders globally. In addition, she will retain her public affairs responsibilities for Nickelodeon as EVP, public affairs, kids and family entertainment brands, ViacomCBS Media Networks.

Jose Tolosa, chief transformation officer of Viacom, will expand his responsibilities as EVP, chief transformation officer. In this role, he will continue to oversee integration efforts for the combined company, with a focus on accelerating the evolution of its businesses. Tolosa will also lead ViacomCBS strategic planning, helping to set the company’s strategic priorities and support cross-company projects for senior management. Additionally, he will oversee the Global Business Services and Global Sourcing divisions, which will expand their scope, providing enterprise-wide services and helping drive synergies.

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The leadership announcements follow the previously announced appointments of Christa D’Alimonte as EVP, general counsel and secretary; Anthony DiClemente as EVP, investor relations; DeDe Lea as EVP, global public policy and government relations; Julia Phelps as EVP, chief communications and corporate marketing officer, and Christina Spade as Executive Vice President, CFO.

“We now have in place the entire senior management team for ViacomCBS, ensuring we will hit the ground running when the transaction closes in just a few weeks,” stated Bob Bakish, Viacom president and CEO, who will serve as president and CEO of ViacomCBS upon closing. “Working together, these leaders will help us realize the full potential of our considerable assets and competitive strengths.”

The merger of Viacom and CBS remains subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to close by early December.

Netflix’s Melissa Cobb Honored With Women in Animation Diversity Award

Netflix VP of original animation Melissa Cobb accepted the Women in Animation Diversity Award Oct. 24 at the SPARK Animation Festival.

“When I think about the legacy that I want to leave to my daughter, Lena, who is here with me tonight on a break from her first year at college, this is what comes to mind,” Cobb said while accepting her award, according to a Netflix release.

Presented in partnership with the Spark Computer Graphics Society, the WIA Diversity Awards recognize individuals, films and organizations that have made a significant impact in expanding the diversity of voices in the animation field. Cobb was chosen for her work supporting female creators at Netflix. Founded in 1993, WIA’s goal is to bring together animation professionals from around the world to empower and support women in the art, science and business of animation.

“WIA’s mission of affecting change in the animation industry and celebrating the organizations and artists who are making a difference is a noble one, and one that we’re very dedicated to at Netflix Animation,” Cobb said.

Cobb, who joined Netflix in 2017, has spearheaded an animated feature film slate that includes upcoming female-backed projects such as My Father’s Dragon, directed by Nora Twomey (The Breadwinner); Pashmina, helmed by Gurinder Chadha (Bend It Like Beckham); and Over the Moon, featuring the work of production designer Celine Desrumaux (The Little Prince).

Debuting on the service Nov. 15, Klaus marks the directorial debut of Despicable Me co-writer Sergio Pablos. It was while working on the film that WIA VP Jinko Gotoh saw Cobb’s passion for championing new voices first-hand. Gotoh served as a producer on Klaus, which marks Netflix’s first original animated film.

When announcing Cobb had been selected to receive the 2019 Women in Animation Diversity Award, Gotoh recalled when the Netflix executive asked for recommendations of female directors a year earlier.

“I gave her a list of three first-time filmmakers,” Gotoh said, in reference to Trisha Gum (The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part), Clare Knight (the Kung Fu Panda franchise) and Wendy Rogers (The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian). “They’re all now at Netflix. How empowering and cool is that?”

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In addition to first-time filmmakers such as Gum, Knight, Rogers and Pablos, Cobb has also championed many new female show runners on the animated series side, according to Netflix. The upcoming slate for animated kids and family shows includes “City of Ghosts from Elizabeth Ito (“Adventure Time”), “Centaurworld from Megan Nicole Dong (How to Train Your Dragon 2), “Raise the Bar! from Fernanda Frick (Here’s the Plan), and “Mama K’s Team 4 from Zambian writer Malenga Mulendema. “Mama K’s Team 4 marks Netflix’s first original African animated series.

When the series was ordered earlier this year, Netflix also announced a partnership with the show’s producing partners, Cape Town-based Triggerfish Animation Studios and London-based CAKE, to launch a continent-wide search for local female writing talent to add to the series’ creative team.

“Her commitment to diversity — including hiring many first-time filmmakers and showrunners — is greater than any other studio executive in the past year,” Gotoh said of Cobb.

“It is so important for kids all over the world to be able to see themselves reflected in animated content and to inspire them, by example, to become the storytellers of tomorrow,” Cobb said.

Netflix Animation also has several overall deals with female creators, including Oscar winner Darla Anderson (Coco) and “Doc McStuffins creator Chris Nee.

“In order to make meaningful change in the number of women working in animation we must hire and empower female creators,” Cobb said in her speech. “Hiring female showrunners and directors leads to more inclusive hiring throughout the productions and to more diverse storytelling.”

In addition to content for kids and families around the world, female creators such as show runner Shion Takeuchi (the upcoming series “Inside Job”) and director Jen Yuh Nelson (season two of David Fincher’s “Love Death and Robots”) are producing content in the adult animation arena.

In April, Netflix and Women in Animation partnered for a panel at Netflix designed to give female animators insight into the creative process for series at the streaming service. The event featured four female show runners from animation, including Dong, Ito, Nee and Takeuchi.