Genius Hires Former Disney Exec Todd Steinman

Genius Brands International has appointed Todd Steinman to the Kartoon Channel! executive team as chief revenue and marketing officer of Kartoon Channel! Kidaverse.

Todd Steinman

Steinman most recently served as VP in the Direct to Consumer and International division at The Walt Disney Company, which included Disney+ during its launch. He helped create solutions to leverage the Walt Disney Company’s  portfolio of linear and digital brands, including Disney, Hulu, ESPN, ABC, Freeform, FX and Nat Geo, while setting strategy for ad sales and revenue teams. Prior to his role at The Walt Disney Company, Steinman co-founded the digital media agency M80, and then led the NBC Universal media team for WPP after they acquired M80. He negotiated multi-million-dollar annual media deals with Google/YouTube, Amazon, Hulu, Disney, Twitter, Snapchat, Spotify and others, while managing an annual budget north of $1 billion. 

Steinman will report to Jon Ollwerther, president of Kartoon Channel! and KC! Kidaverse.

“Todd has a history of driving growth for the most important names in entertainment,” said Ollwerther in a statement. “With the announcement of the KC! Kidaverse, and the acquisition of Ameba TV, Kartoon Channel! has reached a new inflection point, and I could not be more thrilled to welcome an executive of Todd’s caliber to help take our business to the next level.”

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“There is an electric excitement about the Kartoon Channel! and KC! Kidaverse in the kid’s and family market,” said Steinman in a statement. “It’s a breakthrough concept, and I’m looking forward to bringing all my expertise to help drive it forward.”

Kaleidescape Appoints Craig Sholder Chief Revenue Officer

Movie player maker Kaleidescape has hired Craig Sholder as chief revenue officer.

He is responsible for worldwide sales and customer support, executing strategic plans and collaborating with cross-functional teams, partners, dealers and representative firms.  

“Craig brings more than 25 years of experience scaling and transforming entertainment technology businesses globally,” said Tayloe Stansbury, CEO of Kaleidescape, in a statement. “Craig arrives at a critical time for Kaleidescape as we look to strengthening long-term customer, dealer, and integrator relationships that will lead to increased customer and revenue growth.” 

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“I’ve always admired Kaleidescape’s innovation and product offerings and its ability to deliver a state-of-the-art cinema experience to a private cinema environment,” said Sholder in a statement.  “As a home theater enthusiast with a passion for movies and creative digital content, I am excited to work with Kaleidescape’s very talented team in helping others discover and enjoy these products.”

Prior to joining Kaleidescape, Sholder was CEO and strategic advisor at WiVu, where he helped increase revenue by partnering with hospitality venues and driving new customer engagement with the web-based software platform. As VP of business development at Transformation Entertainment Group, he started a profitable media, entertainment and technology distribution business. Sholder also served more than two decades at Christie Digital Systems U.S.A., a solutions provider of digital display technologies, on its executive leadership team.

FilmRise Hires Emilia Nuccio as VP of International Sales

FilmRise, the New York-based film and television studio and streaming network, has appointed Emilia Nuccio to the newly created position of VP, International Sales. 

Nuccio will oversee all international deals and will be responsible for selling the FilmRise catalog as well as new release and FilmRise co-productions into the international marketplace, among other responsibilities.

She will report to Melissa Wohl, SVP, head of sales.

“We are thrilled to have Emilia bring her unmatched knowledge of the international sales marketplace to FilmRise,” said FilmRise CEO Danny Fisher in a statement. “Her innovative approach and strategic expertise will surely lead FilmRise to new and exciting avenues and opportunities for growth.”

“I couldn’t be more excited to work with such an innovative company like FilmRise which continues to grow in the digital arena like no other,” Nuccio said in a statement. “I’m honored to be joining such a team of highly skilled and experienced executives.”

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Nuccio has spent most of her career as a leader in the domestic and international sales and digital distribution arena focusing on acquisitions, licensing and merchandising. Past positions include SVP of sales at Dynamic Television; president of international sales at Echo Bridge for two years following four years as their SVP; president of international program and licensing sales at Itsy Bitsy Entertainment Co.; VP, Latin American sales at BBC Worldwide Americas; and international director of sales at Televisa. In 2001 she founded her own company, Enoro Media, and she continues to serve on the board of directors of the Worldwide Audiovisual Women’s Association.

Leo Macias Taking Marketing Post at Prime Video

Leo Macias is joining Prime Video as VP of marketing and global activation.

In this role, he will develop and lead Prime Video’s marketing and creative team, in collaboration with other internal and external stakeholders, to create and implement marketing campaigns that bring the brand to life through content, storytelling and events, according to the streamer.

Macias has won 300 international and local awards, 33 Cannes Lions, 35 Effie Awards, and 14 Clios. He comes to Prime Video from Snap Inc., where as chief creative officer he helped launch new games, original series and Spotlight, Snapchat’s user-generated content platform, among other enterprises. He led a worldwide, multicultural creative team in developing business campaigns in partnership with global brands such as Nike, Gucci, Ralph Lauren, Uber, Disney and Warner Bros.

Prior to that, Leo was chief creative officer at Laundry Service & Cycle, where he managed brands including Nike, Foot Locker, Ferrero Tic Tac, Belvedere, Amazon Music, Adobe, Dockers, Hydrow, Fossil, Hennessy and EWC. His contributions led to the agency’s first-ever Cannes Lions and Clio awards. Before that, he was based in Colombia as chief creative officer for DDB.

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Macias also spent 20 years in advertising agencies in Brazil, including stints at the Publicis Groupe, Talent Marcel and Publicis Brasil, among others. In 2019, he was recognized as one of the top five best creative leads by Campaign Magazine.

Genius Brands Appoints Zrinka Dekic CFO

Genius Brands International has appointed Zrinka Dekic CFO and head of strategy and mergers and acquisitions. 

Previous CFO Bob Denton will assume the new role of EVP of finance and accounting at Genius Brands.

“Bob Denton has made tremendous contributions to the company as CFO over the past years, as we transformed Genius Brands from an emerging children’s entertainment company to a diversified global organization with a solid balance sheet, positioned for long term growth,” Heyward said in a statement. “We look forward to his continued contributions as executive vice president of finance and accounting, as we accelerate our focus on expansion.”

Dekic brings nearly 20 years of entertainment industry and financial markets experience, including corporate strategy, investment banking, investment management and corporate finance at The Walt Disney Company, and before that, Goldman Sachs. At The Walt Disney Company, she held posts in corporate strategy, strategic planning and business development. Prior to joining Disney, Dekic served as a VP in the investment management division at Goldman Sachs in New York. Most recently, she served as VP of Houlihan Lokey’s Investment Banking Technology, Media & Telecom (TMT) Group, where she was responsible for business development and execution across the sector, including media and entertainment, digital media, streaming technologies, animation and video games. Dekic holds a B.A. from Amherst College and an MBA in Finance from The Wharton School.

“We are excited to welcome Zrinka as chief financial officer of Genius Brands at this major inflection point in the Company’s development, given the rapid revenue growth, expanded distribution, and a powerful slate of new content,” Andy Heyward, chairman and CEO of Genius Brands, said in a statement. “With the recently announced acquisition of WOW! Unlimited Media in Canada and our strategic investment in Your Family Entertainment traded on the Frankfurt Exchange (RFE.F), providing us control over one of Europe’s largest animation catalogs and now a global channel footprint, the addition of Zrinka, with her impressive professional pedigree, including The Walt Disney Company and Goldman Sachs, will empower us to maximize value for shareholders. In particular, Zrinka brings a proven track record in M&A, which will continue to be an important component of our strategy as we execute on our vision of becoming one of the world’s leading global children’s entertainment companies. In support of this goal, she brings extensive relationships across Wall Street and the entertainment industry, spanning animation, media and entertainment, sports, and consumer product companies across North America and globally.”

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“I am delighted and honored to join Genius Brands International at this critical juncture of the disruptive technological changes in the industry as well as the explosive global demand for children’s content,” Dekic said in a statement. “With Genius’s recently announced acquisition of a prolific animation producer WOW! Unlimited Media in Canada and its investment in Your Family Entertainment in Europe, as well as the fact that Genius Brands, through Kartoon Channel! Worldwide, controls both content and distribution, it is poised for global expansion and growth. I am thrilled to be joining the company at such an exciting time and to be part of the leadership team that will take Genius Brands to the next level.”

DEG Presents 5th Annual Hedy Lamarr Award to Former Dolby Exec Poppy Crum

DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group Dec. 6 awarded Poppy Crum, former chief scientist at Dolby Laboratories, the Hedy Lamarr Award for Innovation in Entertainment Technology in a virtual presentation.

In its fifth year, the Hedy Lamarr Award recognizes female executives in the fields of entertainment and technology who have made a significant contribution to the industry.

At Dolby, Crum is responsible for integrating neuroscience and data science into algorithm design, technology development and technology strategy. She is also an adjunct professor at Stanford University, focusing on the impact of modern technologies and immersive environments such as augmented and virtual reality on neuroplasticity and learning.

“It’s an absolute honor to receive this award in Hedy Lamarr’s name,” Crum said after being introduced by Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association. “She’s truly one of the most creatively inspired and impactful inventors of our time.”

Crum noted the imaginative thinking behind Lamarr’s inventions.

“Her creative and artistic talents and perspective were part of the brilliance that inspired her to see successful solutions and opportunities that were whimsically unconventional and not stuck in the past, whether wanting to help provide safe transport at sea during wartime and finding the inspiration behind frequency hopping in the compositional strategy and orchestration of player pianos or improving flight time and safety in the wing design of an airplane conceived as Frankenstein features of different animals, each having its own aerodynamic superpower to include,” she said.

Crum pointed out that Lamarr also had failures, notably the “cola-cube” a sort of bouillon cube that was designed to turn water into a cola drink.

“It didn’t end up working the way Hedy had planned as an inventor because it turns out the water that would be needed to reconstitute the cube across the United States had different chemical compositions, state by state,” Crum noted. “Everyone who does standards, this probably rings true to them. And when the ratios or output of the intended experience didn’t work, she couldn’t create one cube for everyone that would guarantee a successful experience. So Hedy’s cola-cube failure beautifully demonstrated that one-size-fits-all solutions just don’t work very often.”

Technologists must keep this in mind, she said.

“As we fill our lives, our work in entertainment, with increasingly immersive technologies like augmented reality, we have to map the true translation of the technological intent, the user’s perception, rather than model averages or exemplars with OK fits for some and, frankly, poor fits for others,” she said. “One size fits all wasn’t good enough for Hedy, and it can’t be good enough for us. Generating the most relevant features for a personalized experience regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, size and accessibility is fundamental to creating successful and predictable experiences.… Our next steps as innovators in technology are going to see huge benefit to all of us as machine learning and AI play their part in removing existing bias in the success, consistency and impact of the technologies we build across all our users.”

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During the virtual event, the DEG also presented the 2021 Hedy Lamarr Achievement Award for Emerging Leaders in Entertainment Technology, honoring a female college student whose studies in the fields of entertainment and technology have shown exceptional promise, to Shambhavi Mishra, an undergraduate student at Carnegie-Mellon University. Mishra is double majoring in humanities analytics and music composition. Brianna Seaburg, a communications major at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California (USC), was runner up.

Both will receive a financial award to continue their education, with donation assistance from PBS Distribution. PBS Distribution president Andrea Downing virtually presented the award to both students.

A past honoree, Dean Willow Bay of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, led a virtual panel with past student honoree Cassidy Pearsall and the two 2021 winners discussing the transition to work life from college.

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Austrian-American actress Lamarr, the namesake of the DEG award, was a Hollywood legend who is best known for her roles in film classics including Samson and DelilahThe Strange Woman and Tortilla Flat. She was also a lifelong inventor whose innovative work included pioneering “frequency hopping,” which became the foundation for spread spectrum technology. Conceived by Lamarr and composer George Antheil for radio guidance systems and patented in 1942, this highly secure technology resists interference and dropout, and is utilized today for a variety of cellular, Wi-Fi and bluetooth applications.

Other past Hedy Lamarr Award honorees include Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media; Nonny de la Peña, CEO of Emblematic Group; and Sara DeWitt, VP of PBS KIDS Digital.

To determine the award winners, DEG enlists its Canon Club Advisory Board, which comprises a cross-section of leaders representing the entertainment, technology, IT and consumer electronics industries.

Industry Vet Mike Fidler Joins Consulting Firm

Industry veteran and former UHD Alliance president Mike Fidler has joined bluesalve partners as a senior consultant.

Mike Fidler

Fidler has served in senior executive roles with Sony and Pioneer, and as CEO at Digeo, and has been instrumental in launching and leading entertainment industry technologies and organizations, including  DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group, DVD and Blu-ray Disc, and most recently the UHD Alliance. He also served as entrepreneur in residence at Connect, a San Diego start-up advisory.

He brings a unique combination of expertise in hardware, product development, and content platforms and as well as relationships with the Consumer Electronics ecosystem such as service providers, retailers, studios, and streaming services driving new innovations in the market, according to bluesalve.

He adds additional expertise to bluesalve partners’ decades of C-suite level executive experience spanning multiple disciplines, including product development manufacturing, sales, channel development, engineering, system integration, wireless technologies, standards development, corporate finance, valuation and M&A, according to bluesalve.

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“In this fast-paced and complex business environment it’s essential to have a knowledgeable team to maximize the opportunities,” Fidler said in a statement. “I am looking forward to working with the bsp team as their diverse skills and collaborative ethos creates a great environment to drive success for their clients.”

“We are thrilled to have Mike on board. He is a well-respected consumer technology industry powerhouse and his reputation for bringing people and organizations together to solve big challenges and for keeping the consumer at the center is second to none,” founding partner Lew Brown said in a statement. “Plus, Mike is that rare breed that can accomplish big things and while keeping his down-to-earth demeanor, which makes him a perfect fit here at bsp.”

Whip Media Hires Former Epix, HBO Execs

Software platform and data provider Whip Media has hired Joanna Wise as SVP of people, and Patrick Kilkelly as VP of customer success.

Wise joins Whip Media from Epix, wholly owned by Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM), where she served as the VP of human resources. Prior to joining Epix, Wise was director of human resources for MLB Advanced Media, the interactive media and internet company of Major League Baseball. She also served as director of human resources for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. Wise will oversee global efforts to attract and develop “an innovative and customer-focused” team, according to Whip Media.

Joanna Wise and Patrick Kilkelly

Kilkelly joins Whip Media after 15 years at WarnerMedia/HBO, where he most recently served as SVP of product operations and partner integration helping to grow the reach and engagement for HBO’s TVE and OTT products. Kilkelly also oversaw the production and distribution of HBO’s home entertainment products globally and led contract administration and content delivery for HBO’s global licensing business. In his new role at Whip Media, Kilkelly will focus on customer strategy and growth, product adoption, sales assistance, retention and support.

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“Joanna brings more than two decades of experience leading global talent and operational initiatives and driving results for some of the largest entertainment companies,” Jason Weiss, COO of Whip Media, said in a statement. “The addition of Joanna to the team will enable us to further scale Whip Media’s outstanding team and unique culture across the globe.” 

“Patrick is an accomplished executive with extensive experience in premium content distribution, partner relations, subscription video products, rights management, and the media supply chain,” Paul Giordano, chief client officer of Whip Media, said in a statement. “We’re thrilled to have Patrick join our team and further develop and grow the company’s customer relationships.”

“I couldn’t be more excited to join the team at Whip Media, where our number one asset is our people,” Wise said in a statement. “The mission and core values of the company are perfectly aligned with mine, and I’m excited to build on the progress that’s been established as we work to solidify our position as an employer of choice.” 

“Whip Media’s unique data and platform provide a true competitive advantage to global streaming platforms in this rapidly evolving market,” Kilkelly said in a statement. “I’m thrilled to join the team and bring my knowledge and experience to Whip Media to drive revenue and strategic growth for our clients and help expand our customer offerings.” 

Derek Stubinski Named MVD Director of Publicity and Marketing

Derek Stubinski has been appointed director of publicity and marketing at content distributor MVD Entertainment Group.

Stubinski, a 14-year veteran of the company, replaces Clint Weiler, who is leaving MVD.

Derek Stubinski

“I look forward to thriving in this new position and broadening MVD’s horizons,” Stubinski said in a statement. “I’m particularly excited to expand upon Clint’s previous press efforts and relationships. It’s a tall order, but I never back down from a challenge.”

“These are some mighty shoes to fill; Clint has been so great for us for so long and we hate to see him go,” Ed Seaman, COO of MVD, said in a statement. “That said, we’ve got all the confidence in the world that Derek will not only take this role over but grow the department. Wishing Clint the very best with his new endeavors.”

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“After 20-plus excellent years, I have departed MVD to join Z2 Comics where I will serve as the VP of collectibles,” Weiler said in a statement. “I’m very grateful for the time I spent with MVD — nearly half my life. They gave me a shot way back in 2001 as a fresh-out-of-college 22 year old with a passion for music, and a strong desire to work in the industry. Without that chance, there’s no telling what line of work I’d be in. It has really been a terrific ride.”

Q&A: MVD’s Ed Seaman Relishes Running and Expanding the Family Business

Ed Seaman is chief operating officer of MVD Entertainment Group, a leading independent distributor of filmed content in a variety of genres, from horror to documentary, with a special emphasis on music.

“Serving artists and audiences” is MVD Entertainment’s purpose statement and has served as a guiding light for Seaman throughout his career. Starting with MVD in 1989, Ed Seaman joined the family business started by his father in 1987, longtime industry veteran Tom Seaman.

Having learned every aspect of the business, by the early 2000s Ed Seaman was running MVD, and transformed it from being primarily a wholesale entity for music videotapes to a traditional full-service audio and video distribution firm, and exponentially grew the business.

Today, MVD exclusively represents a vast catalog of audio and visual content on DVD, Blu-ray, CD, vinyl and digital rights, worldwide. MVD’s customer base consists of major retail chains and digital platforms, along with a strong commitment to independent retailers and digital sites.

Media Play News asked Seaman about MVD’s origins, its footprint in the industry and trends in home entertainment. 

MPN: Tell us about the genesis of MVD and what the company has been known for over the years.

Seaman: MVD is a true “mom and pop” story; my parents started it in their family room in the mid-1980s. My father was in the music business his whole life, and he launched MVD as a wholesaler for music videotapes. My sister Eve Edwards joined in 1988, and I came on board in 1989. In the late 1990s, we converted a number of wholesale relationships to exclusive DVD licensing and distribution deals, and we started seeing real growth, acting at that time as part self-distributed label, and part wholesaler. By the early 2000s, we started offering non-music films, which was a big departure for us — and very early on acquired a strong catalog of digital rights on our content. And by 2006 we entered the audio distribution business — selling both physically and digitally.

MPN: What’s MVD up to now? How does MVD acquire product?

Seaman: Within the last 10 years we’ve grown dramatically; our main focus is exclusively distributing great video and audio labels. We are really proud of our representation of great brands like Arrow Films, Blue Underground, Severin, Synapse, and many more from the film side. We continue to sign content to our own brands (MVD Rewind, MVD Marquee), with our video specialist Eric Wilkinson scouring the earth to find hidden gems. On the music side, it is a similar focus; we have great record labels like Time Life, Bear Family, Made in Germany, and much more. We’ve never lost our interest in music-related films too — it is where we come from and will always hold a special place for us.

MPN: How many titles do you have in your catalog and how many do you generally release each year?

Seaman: A lot … I’d say we release around 75 titles per month on film, and another 150 or so on audio. Our team does a great job evaluating and attacking the opportunities on each release, and focusing on the biggest and best opportunities. We have excellent data systems that help illuminate and execute those opportunities, and we’ve got an amazing dedicated team, many of whom have spent their entire career at MVD.

MPN: What is MVD’s footprint in the digital marketplace on streaming services or digital purchase and rental?

Seaman: We’ve been very progressive all along in the digital landscape with a vast catalog of exclusively distributed content. We have great direct relationships with all the major platforms, both for film and for music, and we are aggressive when it comes to working with new and upcoming services, provided they have a sound model and sound finances. MVD built its own delivery systems for digital video, meaning we don’t go through a lab to get our goods delivered to the vast majority of streaming services. That saves our content providers a lot of resources, and allows us to try out some of the newer services without as much start-up risk.

MPN: How many video labels do you distribute and are you looking for more? What can you offer a label?

Seaman: We have around 30 active video labels — and yes we are ready to welcome more. MVD brings a lot to the table — quick responses and great advice, monthly reliable payments, transparent accounting, including massive visibility through our b2b site, marketing services (which we don’t mark up), possible manufacturing through our replicators (not marked up), and more. Overall, we strive for trade partnerships in our relationships. Our trade partners tell it better than I can at https://mvdentertainment.com/why-mvd/

MPN: What are the trends you are seeing in physical media? What’s the format breakdown?

Seaman: Collectible products given the deluxe treatment is the strongest trend we see. It has to be the right type of film of course with cult-like status, but labels that painstakingly transfer, clean and correct old film to 4K, create and add new content, and beautifully package these films see some great rewards. So, yes, UHD is doing really well, in some cases outselling their Blu-ray companions. The collectors are clearly hungry for well-done UHD.