Amazon Video’s Greg Hart Leaves for Compass

Amazon Video executive Greg Hart has exited the online goliath to join real estate technology company Compass as chief product officer.

Hart was most recently VP of worldwide, Amazon Video, responsible for steering the global expansion of the company’s digital video offerings, leading Prime Video’s global business, product, engineering, marketing, distribution and sports rights teams.

Hart spent 23 years at Amazon, beginning his career in books and then moving on to product management roles in music, gaming, video, software and AI.

Last month, Amazon appointed Mike Hopkins, who previously headed Hulu before leaving to become chairman of Sony Pictures Television, SVP at Prime Video and Amazon Studios. Hart had reported to Hopkins.

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“Compass is unlike any other company in real estate or technology. The company truly views agents as customers and has made it their mission to provide these customers with services and software necessary to take their business to the next level in today’s digital economy,” said Hart in a statement. “This customer-first approach to product development has been central to my own career, so the opportunity to better serve this massive customer group is the natural next step for me.”

Reporting to Compass CEO Robert Reffkin, Hart will be responsible for driving all aspects of Compass’ integrated product offering.

 

Bob Chapek Named Disney CEO

Former home entertainment executive Bob Chapek has been named CEO of The Walt Disney Company.

Chapek most recently served as chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products.

Former CEO Robert A. Iger assumes the role of executive chairman and will direct the company’s creative endeavors, while leading the board “and providing the full benefit of his experience, leadership and guidance to ensure a smooth and successful transition through the end of his contract on Dec. 31, 2021,” according to a Disney press release.

(L-R): Bob Iger and Bob Chapek at the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland. (Photo by Business Wire)

In Chapek’s new role as CEO, he will directly oversee all the company’s business segments and corporate functions and will report to executive chairman Iger and the board of directors. He will be appointed to the board at a later date. A new head of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products will be named at a future time.

“With the successful launch of Disney’s direct-to-consumer businesses and the integration of 21st Century Fox well underway, I believe this is the optimal time to transition to a new CEO,” Iger said in a statement. “I have the utmost confidence in Bob and look forward to working closely with him over the next 22 months as he assumes this new role and delves deeper into Disney’s multifaceted global businesses and operations, while I continue to focus on the company’s creative endeavors.”

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“I am incredibly honored and humbled to assume the role of CEO of what I truly believe is the greatest company in the world, and to lead our exceptionally talented and dedicated cast members and employees,” Chapek said in a statement. “Bob Iger has built Disney into the most admired and successful media and entertainment company, and I have been lucky to enjoy a front-row seat as a member of his leadership team. I share his commitment to creative excellence, technological innovation and international expansion, and I will continue to embrace these same strategic pillars going forward. Everything we have achieved thus far serves as a solid foundation for further creative storytelling, bold innovation and thoughtful risk-taking.”

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Chapek served as Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products since the segment’s creation in 2018, and prior to that was chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts since 2015.

Bob Chapek (right) with fellow home entertainment division presidents Mike Dunn (20th Century Fox), David Bishop (Sony Pictures) and Steve Beeks (Lionsgate) at the 2007 CES, showcasing Blu-ray Disc.

From 2011 to 2015, Chapek was President of the former Disney Consumer Products segment. Prior to that, he served as president of distribution for The Walt Disney Studios and was responsible for overseeing the studios’ overall content distribution strategy across multiple platforms including theatrical exhibition, home entertainment, pay TV, digital entertainment and new media.

He also served as president of Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, where he spearheaded the successful “vault strategy” for the company’s iconic animated classics. They would be released on home video for a limited time before being returned to the “vault,” a practice that led to spikes in demand — and a series of home video sales records.

Chapek also played a key role in transitioning home entertainment from DVD to Blu-ray Disc, characterizing the latter as an “evolutionary” format — a prediction that has come true, as Blu-ray Disc is now the conduit for the latest technological advance in home viewing, 4K Ultra HD.

Speaking on an investor call shortly after the transition announcement, Iger said that even though he has nearly two years left on his contract, the change was being made now because he felt he needed to start focusing on the company’s creative strategy in the wake of the acquisition of the 20th Century Fox studio assets and the launch of the Disney+ streaming service.

“With the asset base in place and with our strategy essentially deployed, I decided I should be spending as much time as possible on the creative side of our business,” Iger said. “That becomes the biggest priority. Getting everything right creatively would be my number one goal. The best way to do that was to turn over day to day management of the company to Bob [Chapek] and free me up to focus on the creative side.”

 

Hulu CEO Randy Freer to Depart

Hulu CEO Randy Freer is stepping down as the service reorganizes under Disney Direct-to-Consumer and International.

“I want to thank Randy for his leadership the last two years as CEO and for his collaboration the past several months to ensure an exceptionally bright future for Hulu,” said Kevin Mayer, chairman of Disney Direct-to-Consumer and International. “With the successful launch of Disney+, we are now focused on the benefits of scale within and across our portfolio of DTC businesses. Further integrating the immensely talented Hulu team into our organization will allow us to more effectively and efficiently deploy resources, rapidly grow our presence outside the U.S. and continue to relentlessly innovate. There is a tremendous amount of opportunity ahead, and I am confident in our ability to accelerate our positive momentum and better serve consumers.”

“I am grateful for my time at Hulu, and the opportunity to work and learn with an incredibly talented and dedicated group of people,” said Freer. “I also want to thank Kevin and The Walt Disney Company, as well as NBCUniversal and Fox, for providing me the opportunity to lead Hulu during a time of tremendous growth and significant industry transformation. Hulu has established itself as a leading choice for consumers looking for the best TV service available today, and I am confident Hulu will thrive inside Disney under DTCI’s leadership and resources.”

Freer will remain in his role for a period to assist in the transition.

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.