Comscore CFO Departing

Comscore CFO Greg Fink is leaving the company “to pursue new interests,” the company announced.

Fink, who joined the media research firm in 2017, will depart at the end of August 2021. Comscore has retained a leading executive search firm to identify a new CFO, and Fink has agreed to provide support during the search process to ensure an orderly transition, according to Comscore.

“I thank Greg for his many contributions toward helping set the company on a course for success,” said Comscore CEO Bill Livek in a statement. “He has built a strong team, which I am confident will carry on the foundational work that enables us to continue our evolution to provide the best modern measurement services for the future of media.”

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“Over the last four years, we have developed a strong finance team, rebuilt our processes, implemented a new ERP, and refinanced our balance sheet.  I’m proud of the work we have done, and grateful for the opportunity to work with this team,” said Fink in a statement.

Lionsgate Names Ryan Lowerre President of Domestic TV and Digital Distribution

Ryan Lowerre has joined Lionsgate as president of domestic television and digital distribution.

His appointment completes the reconfiguration of the company’s Worldwide Television & Digital Distribution Operations.

Lowerre will be responsible for overseeing the distribution and licensing of Liongate’s 17,000-title film and television library, feature films and first-run television series to clients in the SVOD, AVOD, basic cable and free TV space across the United States and Canada.

“The demand for premium content is increasing all the time as more new buyers emerge to compete in the domestic marketplace,” Lionsgate president of worldwide television distribution Jim Packer, to whom Lowerre will report, said in a statement. “Ryan’s past work experience and business relationships make him the perfect candidate to help Lionsgate capitalize on the growing opportunities of an ever-changing media environment. He understands the needs of our buyers and brings a fresh and invigorating perspective to the team and our domestic business.”

“Lionsgate is an entrepreneurial content leader at the forefront of innovative and bespoke distribution models, with a slate of current releases and a robust library that reach every corner of the world,” Lowerre said in a statement. “I’m proud to join Jim and the Lionsgate family in positioning the Company as a partner of choice to domestic streaming and linear buyers as their appetite for content continues to grow exponentially.”

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Prior to joining Lionsgate, Lowerre served two stints at Amazon Prime Video, most recently as head of licensed content, U.S., where he was overseeing the licensed content portfolio. During his tenure at the streamer, Lowerre’s responsibilities also included licensing first run TV series as well as leading the company’s content acquisition efforts for international expansion into the VOD/EST space. Lowerre also worked at Hulu where he oversaw content investment of hit television series such as “Black-ish,” “Power,” “The Good Doctor” and “Golden Girls.”

Lowerre began his professional career at 20th Century Fox in International Television Distribution with roles in finance and deal valuation as well as licensing deal negotiations in international markets for premium pay TV and SVOD. He holds an MBA from USC’s Marshall School of Business and a Bachelor of Science in finance from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

Former Dreamworks and Pixar Exec Kerry Phelan Joins Genius Brands as EVP and GM

Genius Brands International, a global brand management company that creates and licenses multimedia entertainment content for children, has appointed Kerry Phelan to the newly created position of EVP and GM of global franchise management.

Phelan will report to both Andy Heyward, chairman and CEO, and Harold Chizick, president of global content sales, marketing and consumer products.

In her new role at Genius Brands, Phelan will be responsible for global management of the company’s existing IP across licensing, merchandising, retail and promotions, including Stan Lee’s “Superhero Kindergarten,” “Shaq’s Garage,” “Stan Lee Universe” and “Rainbow Rangers,” as well as properties currently in development.

A 30-year consumer branding executive, Phelan successfully launched the “Star Wars” brand at Lego Systems and was recruited directly to Lucasfilm, where she led the global consumer products and promotional licensing business for the multi-billion-dollar “Star Wars” franchise in more than 60 countries worldwide. She then joined Pixar Animation Studios, reporting directly to Steve Jobs, where she launched, in concert with Disney Consumer Products,  the original “Cars” consumer product program, which became franchise totaling more than $8 billion in retail sales. Following her stint at Pixar, Phelan spent seven years at DreamWorks Animation as head of consumer products and licensing, driving the development of franchise management plans for the studio’s film and television properties, including “Shrek,” “Madagascar,” “Kung Fu Panda” and “How to Train Your Dragon.” At DreamWorks, she managed the retail consumer products business and doubled the consumer products revenue in just three years.  Most recently, she served as president of global franchise management at Lionsgate Entertainment, where under her leadership, the studio created brand extensions spanning location-based and live entertainment venues, consumer products, licensed merchandise, brand partnerships and an array of promotional ventures for such blockbuster franchises as “The Hunger Games” and “Twilight.”

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“Kerry’s pedigree and reputation in entertainment branding is unparalleled as she has driven the global revenue streams of some of the most lucrative franchises in history,” Chizick said in a statement. “In the coming year, we have multiple properties launching into the global retail marketplace, including Stan Lee’s ‘Superhero Kindergarten,’ which just premiered on Kartoon Channel!, as well as ‘Shaq’s Garage’ and ‘Stan Lee Universe’ plus more categories coming to market around ‘Rainbow Rangers.’ Kerry’s leadership and strategic guidance will be instrumental in driving the growth of our brands around the world. She is a dream executive to have on board to help us achieve our long-term goals.”

“The majority of my career has been spent building properties into global franchises, specifically in the children’s space.  Having had a peek at the coming pipeline, I am excited about the future at Genius Brands and the opportunity to build bigger brand ecosystems around their properties,” Phelan said in a statement.

Kaleidescape Hires New VP

Kaleidescape, a designer and manufacturer of home movie servers and players, has hired Heather Olson Grundeman as VP of customer engagement.

Heather Olson Grundeman

“Heather brings a unique set of skills to Kaleidescape as she championed at home experiences across several media companies including Sony Pictures, 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros. Studios,” Tayloe Stansbury, CEO of Kaleidescape, said in a statement. “In addition, she has pioneered, built, launched and managed innovative in-home entertainment experiences like pay-per-view and video on demand, and helped redefine digital storefront experiences to enhance the way customers engage with content.”

In her new role, Grundeman will be responsible for optimizing and enriching customer experiences across movie prioritization, licensing and merchandising, as well as developing analytics-driven integrated customer engagement campaigns.

She worked with Kaleidescape for several years while at 20th Century Fox.

“Over the years I have been a huge advocate of Kaleidescape and admire its entrepreneurial spirit in driving innovations in digital media experiences,” Grundeman said in a statement. “Kaleidescape has a unique opportunity to grow both its customer base and engagement with its players, and I believe my competitive and industry insights will help drive its leadership position in digital media.”

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Previously, Grundeman was VP of global digital accounts at 20th Century Fox, where she licensed content and designed customer engagement strategies for tech companies such as Apple, Facebook, Oculus, Amazon and Google. She also constructed digital content strategies at the company. As executive director of international marketing at Sony Pictures, Heather pioneered international marketing campaigns and executed strategies across more than 150 territories. She also led analytics and marketing teams, synthesizing data and overseeing catalog strategy and the pricing lifecycle for Sony Picture film library releases.

Heather holds a B.S. in business administration and marketing from California State University, Northridge, and was elected to an elite group of future leaders at Sony’s Global Business Leadership University program.

FilmRise Promotes Trey Durst to VP

New York-based TV and film studio and streaming network FilmRise has promoted Trey Durst to VP of digital content programming.

Previously serving as senior director of digital content programming, Durst will oversee all of FilmRise’s OTT programming activities, including the digital syndication of all FilmRise content domestically and internationally. He will also seek out and assist in negotiating new partnership deals with platforms worldwide. He will continue to be responsible for growing FilmRise’s FAST (Free Ad-supported Streaming TV) channel offerings and points of distribution, managing FilmRise’s key accounts, while organizing the team to leverage editorial opportunities throughout the calendar year.

“Trey has been an extremely valuable asset to our Sales team,” Melissa Wohl, SVP and head of sales at FilmRise, said in a statement. “His promotion exemplifies the company’s growth at a thrilling rate, and his contribution has been enormous.”

Durst joined FilmRise as AVOD content programming manager in 2018. Since then he has been responsible for curating offerings for partner platforms and maximizing revenue. He has cultivated an expertise in the emerging FAST channel marketplace by overseeing the growth of FilmRise’s portfolio of digital linear channels. He combines content monetization and performance optimization to provide FilmRise’s partners with high-value programming.

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Prior to joining FilmRise, Durst was with TEGNA as an OTT account manager, where he managed OTT ad campaigns for Premion’s Dallas and Los Angeles markets as well as their Chevy national campaign.

Imax Board Appoints New Chairman, Member

The board of directors of Imax Corp. has elected longstanding board member Darren Throop — founder, CEO and president of Entertainment One (eOne) — its chairman.

At its annual and special meeting of shareholders June 9, Imax shareholders also elected Steve Pamon, former president and chief operating officer of Beyoncé’s Parkwood Entertainment, to join the Board.

Both appointments are effective immediately.

“Darren has been a strong, influential leader on the IMAX Board, expanding on his brilliant career in building eOne into a global content force from the ground up,” Rich Gelfond, CEO of Imax, said in a statement. “Darren’s expertise in maximizing the value of global brands, scaling businesses and navigating the evolving content landscape will continue to be instrumental to our growth strategy.

“Steve is a seasoned and versatile business leader with a track record of entrepreneurship and innovation in entertainment throughout his successful career. Steve’s expertise at the intersection of entertainment, technology, and cutting-edge consumer experiences will be important to Imax as we seek to grow and create new opportunities for our global brand.”

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“I’m so pleased to take on this role and continue working alongside Rich, the Imax leadership team and my fellow Board members to drive the business forward, especially as we enter a new era of the moviegoing experience,” Throop said in a statement. “Imax’s commitment to innovative technology is unmatched, and I’m excited to help steer their growth strategy as they continue to bring awe-inspiring, immersive experiences to audiences around the world.”

“From my teenage years working at the Ominmax Theatre in Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry, I have dreamed of playing a role in the transformative experience of an Imax presentation,” Pamon said in a statement. “Joining the Board of Directors of Imax is more than an appointment; it is a dream come true.”

An Imax director since June 2015, Throop founded eOne — an international entertainment company specializing in the acquisition, production and distribution of film and TV content — and has served as its president and CEO since 2003. Throop will continue to serve as a member of Imax’s compensation committee. Most recently, Throop engineered the $3.8 billion sale of eOne to Hasbro in 2019.

At Parkwood Entertainment, Pamon was the architect of the successful “On the Run” tour and was awarded both a Grammy Award for Homecoming and a Peabody Award for the visual album Lemonade as executive producer. Prior to joining Parkwood, he held executive positions at JPMorgan Chase & Co., the NFL and HBO. Pamon also sits on the board of World Wresting Entertainment, the board of New York Road Runners — a nonprofit organization that produces more than 100 sports events each year including the famed New York City Marathon — and is a founding advisory board member for the “Launch with GS” fund, Goldman Sachs’ $500 million dollar investment fund that aims to increase access to capital and connections for diverse entrepreneurs.

Lionsgate Appoints Two New Digital EVPs

Lionsgate has reconfigured its worldwide television distribution operations by elevating Kate Nexon and Chase Brisbin to the new positions of EVP of domestic television and digital distribution and EVP of international television and digital distribution, respectively.

The promotions are part of the company’s ongoing initiatives to capitalize on the demand for premium content in the global streaming, cable and AVOD markets, according to Lionsgate.

Brisbin and Nexon are responsible for distributing and licensing Liongate’s 17,000-title film and television library, feature films, first-run television series, and Starz programming to SVOD, AVOD and linear platforms globally. Brisbin, formerly SVP of global SVOD, will pivot her focus to expanding Lionsgate’s content business with the growing array of new international platforms. Nexon, who previously served as SVP of North American TV and digital sales, will expand her role to focus on the domestic SVOD market. The company recently added more than 60 new global clients, according to Lionsgate.

“Kate is an invaluable member of our television distribution family with the perfect skills to catapult our domestic streaming business as more SVOD and AVOD players enter the media ecosystem and windowing continues to change,” Lionsgate president of worldwide television distribution Jim Packer said in a statement. “She has the strategic vision to align our distribution business with a rapidly evolving environment, and Kate and Chase’s promotions allow us to bring specialized expertise to the content needs of our partners while positioning the Company for continued growth.”

“Chase is a skilled strategist who has negotiated some of our most innovative worldwide content deals,” president of international television and digital distribution Agapy Kapouranis, to whom Brisbin reports, said in a statement. “She is a consummate professional and a fantastic dealmaker and her business acumen has played a critical role in establishing Lionsgate as a partner of choice to international buyers.”

Brisbin and Nexon were key members of the team that negotiated the syndication of the multiple Emmy award-winning series “Mad Men” to Amazon’s IMDb TV domestically and Prime Video internationally, AMC and Starzplay. They also helped negotiate Lionsgate’s recent Pay 1 theatrical output deal with Starz, and they work closely with the Starz team to support their global expansion with recent releases and library titles.

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A 12-year veteran of Lionsgate, Nexon has been responsible for licensing Lionsgate’s television and film properties across U.S. linear and digital platforms. She leads domestic sales, overseeing strategic planning and execution of multi-platform domestic initiatives. Nexon joined Lionsgate in 2009 shortly before completing her MFA in Film Directing from the Columbia University School of the Arts. She also holds an MBA from Columbia Business School and received her bachelor’s degree, cum laude, from Vanderbilt University.

Brisbin joined Lionsgate in 2012 and served in various capacities including the company’s first expansion into the international transactional/EST digital space. She later transitioned to the newly-formed global SVOD team where she helped support Lionsgate’s position in the SVOD space by brokering deals with streaming giants such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, as well as creating new business models with emerging platforms. She negotiated the deals to bring the anthology series “Manhunt: Deadly Games” and the Emmy-nominated comedy “Ramy” to Starzplay across more than 50 countries. Brisbin has also been responsible for a number of Pay 1 and Pay 2 output deals with global streamers.

Kaleidescape Hires Tom Vaughan as VP of Engineering

Kaleidescape, a designer and manufacturer of home movie servers and players, has appointed Tom Vaughan VP of engineering.

Tom Vaughan

“Tom brings more than 30 years of experience in the media and entertainment industry to Kaleidescape engineering,” Tayloe Stansbury, CEO of Kaleidescape, said in a statement. “With a robust career in driving innovation for image and sound technology that has had a profound impact on the industry, Tom will play an essential role in furthering Kaleidescape’s aggressive product roadmap.”

“Kaleidescape engineering has accomplished amazing feats over the past two decades, trailblazing industry firsts that are now best practices used by the digital media and entertainment market today,” Vaughan said in a statement. “I am excited about the opportunity to lead Kaleidescape’s engineering efforts, build on its success, and usher in the next generation of product capabilities.”

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Vaughan started his career in the compact disc industry, building and managing mastering operations for CBS Records. Later, he led development of DVD manufacturing capability at Cinram. From 2002 to 2012 he led product management of multimedia software at Roxio, CyberLink, and Corel. In 2013 he joined MulticoreWare, where he led development of x265, the video encoder used by most leading video services. Most recently, Tom was VP of strategy at Beamr, a leading developer of commercial video encoder and image optimization software.

He holds a B.S. in electrical and computer engineering and an M.B.A. from Drexel University.

Whip Media Promotes Carol Hanley to Co-President

Whip Media, an enterprise software platform and data provider to entertainment organizations, has promoted Carol Hanley to co-president.

Hanley previously served as Whip Media’s chief revenue and strategy officer.

Hanley will lead global growth strategy and performance for the company, working alongside president Rob Gardos, who will lead product direction, development and client success for Whip Media.

“Carol is an extraordinary leader, with a proven track record of driving revenue, customer acquisition and satisfaction, and helping media companies understand the value of their data,” Richard Rosenblatt, CEO and founder of Whip Media, said in a statement. “Her well-deserved promotion comes as Whip Media enters our next chapter of significant growth, where she and Rob will play instrumental roles in scaling our global business.”

“This is an exciting time for Whip Media, and I’m thrilled to be taking on the co-president role alongside Rob,” Hanley said in a statement. “In today’s complex marketplace, Whip Media is uniquely positioned to drive innovation for buyers and sellers of content. We have built the team, technology, and partnerships that combined offer the most robust data and content licensing platform to increase revenue and direct-to-consumer growth for the world’s largest entertainment companies.”

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Hanley joined Whip Media in 2017 to lead the company’s business strategy, revenue, sales and marketing. She also oversaw the development of new measurement solutions that combine audience consumption data with financial information to enable smarter TV and film buying and selling decisions in an evolving entertainment ecosystem.

Under her leadership, Whip Media acquired Mediamorph, with a platform that powered more than two-thirds of all global digital transactional revenue for the film and television industries, as well as the TV and movie metadata platform TVDB. She also scaled Whip Media’s global sales team and expanded customer relationships with global content providers, broadcasters and operators.

Whip Media’s growing roster of clients is comprised of more than 50 of media and entertainment companies, including all major Hollywood studios, top broadcasters and the largest global MVPD operators in the world. Whip Media’s newest customers include Pluto TV, Tastemade and StudioCanal, among others.

Before joining Whip Media, Carol served as CRO of Deluxe Entertainment Services Group, where she led the corporate sales strategy, with a focus on driving revenue growth, identifying synergies and creating advanced client solutions across Deluxe’s global brands. Prior to working at Deluxe, Carol spent 13 years as the EVP, chief revenue and marketing officer at Nielsen Audio. She also served as SVP and CRO of Arbitron, before Nielsen acquired it, and as a managing partner at Morrison and Abraham.

Genius Brands Appoints Harold Chizick President

Genius Brands International, a creator and licensor of multimedia entertainment content for children, has appointed Harold Chizick president, overseeing the global content sales, consumer products and marketing business.

Chizick is co-founder of ChizComm Ltd. and ChizComm Beacon Media, subsidiaries of Genius Brands.

He reports to Genius Brands’ chairman and CEO Andy Heyward.

Chizick, who will continue to run ChizComm Ltd. and ChizComm Beacon Media, will be responsible for driving global strategies across licensing, distribution and marketing for Genius Brands’ growing portfolio of brands, including “Stan Lee’s Superhero Kindergarten,” starring Arnold Schwarzenegger; “Shaq’s Garage,” starring Shaquille O’Neal; “Stan Lee’s Universe”; “Rainbow Rangers”; “Llama Llama”; and more, as well as the company’s streaming platform Kartoon Channel!

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“Since acquiring ChizComm and ChizComm Beacon Media earlier this year, I have experienced firsthand the level of expertise, creativity and passion that Harold brings to the business,” Heyward said in a statement. “As we continue to build our team and focus on the brands we are bringing to market, I know that Harold and our executives are in a position to dramatically drive the growth of Genius Brands in the coming years.  His expertise and relationships in the toy and game world in particular are unmatched.”

“It is an incredible time to play an integral role in building Genius Brands presence on a global scale, and I look forward to working with Andy and the executive team to take the company to the next level as we rollout new brands to the content and retail marketplace this year,” Chizick said in a statement.

Chizick has more than 20 years of experience in public relations, social media, promotions, events and product launches. At the helm of ChizComm, founded in 2013 by Harold and Jennifer Chizick, “he brings a collaborative, inventive approach to marketing for partners and clients,” according to a Genius press release.