Former Shine Intl. prexy to help Ben Silverman banner expand

Ben Silverman has tapped longtime lieutenant Chris Grant to serve as CEO of his fast-growing Electus production and distribution company as it prepares for a growth spurt in its content operations.

Grant, who exited as prexy of Shine Intl. in May, will formally begin his new gig on Nov. 1 and will be based in Los Angeles. His mandate is to help the company scout for producer partnerships and potential company acquisitions, particularly in the U.S. and the U.K., and oversee the expansion of its TV, digital and branded entertainment operations.

Grant will work closely with Electus chief operating officer Drew Buckley, who continues to report to Silverman and maintains oversight of digital, advertising, finance and M&A activities as well as management of the company’s business relationships with Yahoo, Microsoft and Google.

Grant said he was eager to reunite with Silverman at a moment when Electus is poised to build quickly on the foundation built during the two years since Silverman launched the company in partnership with Barry Diller’s IAC.

“The power of owning rights and formats has never been more clear to us,” Grant told Variety. “To build this company to the scale we want to build it to, it starts with rights and ownership.”

A decade ago Grant was among the founding execs of Silverman’s Reveille banner, which was eventually bought out by Elisabeth Murdoch’s Shine Group in 2008 after Silverman decamped for his turbulent two-year run as NBC Entertainment topper. Before Reveille, Grant was schooled in the art of international-rights wheeling and dealing by Silverman when both worked for the William Morris Agency in the 1990s.

At Reveille and Shine, Grant’s focus was on international sales and distribution. At Electus, his attention will be much more on the domestic front, where he and Silverman see ample opportunities for production company acquisitions and producer partnerships.

“It’s a perfect time for Chris to join the company,” Silverman said. “He’s going to be accelerate and help us manage our growth as we build off our existing base.”

Although there is no shortage of competition right now among mid-sized distribution entities vying for unscripted format rights, Grant asserted that Electus has a strong selling point to prospective partners.

For starters, Reveille had a strong track record as a pioneer and innovator with international format licensing, branded entertainment deals and original digital content, ranging from the U.S. adaptations of “The Office,” “Ugly Betty” and “The Tudors” to the merchandising juggernaut of NBC’s “Biggest Loser Franchise” to Reveille’s early Web content partnership with MSN and blue-chip advertisers. With IAC’s backing, Electus has the deep pockets and the partnerships to develop original content in creative ways — like starting a show on the Internet or in an overseas market before shopping it in the U.S. market, where nets typically drive a hard bargain of demanding ownership.

“With the combination of Ben, Drew and myself, we can show a producer that we know how to drive value through multiple distribution channels, and we can introduce their ideas to the biggest advertisers in the world,” Grant said.

Electus’ existing content partners include the CollegeHumor comedy website; Will Arnett and Jason Bateman’s DumbDumb shingle and production companies 5×5 Media, Notional and DiGa, the latter run by MTV alums Tony DiSanto and Liz Gateley.

Among Electus’ active roster of unscripted skeins are VH1’s “Mob Wives,” NBC’s upcoming “Fashion Star,” hosted by Elle MacPherson; BET’s “Masters of Mix”; and Spike TV’s “Car Boss.”

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