These are the New Yorkers who are revitalizing Gotham’s rich showbiz legacy
Head of comedy, APA
You want funny? Call Berkowitz. His client list includes such notables as Louis C.K., Craig Ferguson, Kevin Hart, Vanessa Bayer, Mike Birbiglia, Anthony Jeselnik, Nick Kroll and Aziz
Ansari. Berkowitz helped pioneer C.K.’s initiative to sell his concert tour tickets directly to audiences through the website buy.louisck.net, and executive produced the comic’s latest HBO special, “Oh My God.” Additionally, he’s involved in tours, films and other projects for his clients, and last year he was named to APA’s board of directors. Wonder if he cracks them up?
Co-head, TV talent dept., UTA
When UTA looked to New York in 2011, it asked Gates to open its office in 2012. It was a natural choice for the agency. Gates launched her entertainment career in UTA’s Agent Training Program in 1996. She was one of the fastest-promoted UTA agents, earning her talent agent stripes in less than two years. In the meantime, recognizing the possibilities of the digital world, she’s helped her clients clinch deals in new-media projects, placing Jason Biggs in Netflix series “Orange Is the New Black” and helping Emmanuelle Chriqui seal a Web series deal for Crackle.com, to name a few. Her client Lake Bell recently proved that her talent goes beyond thesping by winning Sundance’s Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award for “In a World,” recently picked up by Magnolia. She also works closely with client Michael J. Fox and his charity the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, and helped with the development and casting of his pilot, which was picked up by NBC.
Media advisory executive, Evolution Media Capital
Theater talent agent, CAA
Sports and sports rights are the hottest things on the market for any broadcast or cable exec. Evolution Media Capital, a merchant bank focused on the media and sports industries that was formed as a partnership with CAA in 2008, has been on the cutting edge of this amped-up world. The Gotham-based Gold, who oversees the EMC media advisory team, has negotiated more than $40 billion of deals throughout his career.
Since joining EMC in 2008, Gold has advised premier content owners regarding their media rights including the Intl. Olympic Committee, NHL, Pac-12 Conference, MLB’s Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Rangers and Padres, the NBA’s Celtics and Hawks, the NHL’s Kings and Predators and the L.A. Galaxy, among other leading teams and associations. But EMC does more than sports. It structured Sony/ATV’s $300 million of debt financing for its 50% ownership of the Beatles library and in January EMC announced the formation of a joint venture with TPG to invest at least $100 million in media, sports and entertainment companies.
CAA’s reach in New York is not only in finance, TV, film, but also sports, books, marketing, fashion & beauty, commercial endorsements, and of course, on stage. Machota knows Broadway inside out, having started as a performer (he played Sky in “Mamma Mia!”) who parlayed his ambition into an agent’s position. Now he’s considered one of the most powerful agents on the Main Stem — even being named-checked on Smash — repping Scarlett Johansson, Zachary Quinto, Sutton Foster, Jim Parsons and Neil Patrick Harris, among others. If you want stars in your show, Machota’s your guy.
WME board member, partner, head of branded lifestyle group, co-head of non-scripted television dept.
WME’s branded lifestyle group, which he launched in 2007, combines the best of New York — food, fashion, media — into a one-stop shop for foodies and trendsetters like Rachael Ray, Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis. Rosen also has recently renegotiated deals for Ray, Flay and De Laurentiis to remain marquee talents at the Food Network. Other clients include Buddy Valastro, Tom Colicchio, “The Chew” co-host and Iron Chef regular Michael Symon, and “The Pioneer Woman” Ree Drummond (who will be portrayed on the bigscreen by Reese Witherspoon). Rosen’s group provides opportunities for clients across all areas of the company, including merchandising, licensing and publishing. Recent deals includes Nate Berkus’ return to TV as host and executive producer for the upcoming NBC primetime series “Renovation Nation.”
Head, theater talent dept., Paradigm
Head, theater literary dept., Paradigm
Their clients topline the hits of New York: Laura Osnes and Peter Bartlett (Cinderella); Jennifer Laura Thompson (“Nice Work If You Can Get It”); Reeve Carney and Rebecca Faulkenberry (“Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark”); Betsy Wolfe (“The Last Five Years”); Andy Karl (“Jersey Boys”); Peter Gerety (“Lucky Guy”); and Corey Michael Smith (“Breakfast at Tiffany’s”). But there are also the creatives behind the scenes: Jeff Calhoun (director, Newsies; and director-choreographer, Jekyll & Hyde); Jack Feldman (lyricist, Newsies); Lyle Kessler (playwright, Orphans); and David Chase (musical adaptation, supervision and arrangements, “Cinderella” and “Nice Work if You Can Get It”).
But that’s only a taste of their list, which also encompasses talent and titles in the West End, regional theater and around the globe, including the creative team behind next season’s La Jolla Playhouse and Kennedy Center co-production of Side Show: Henry Krieger, Bill Russell, Bill Condon, Anthony Van Laast, Harold Wheeler, David Rockwell and Paul Tazewell; and titles as diverse as Sister Act and Driving Miss Daisy.
Partner, co-head of talent, board member, ICM Partners
Schweitzer became somewhat of an Internet sensation earlier this year when he was seen around Gotham with new client Katie Holmes. But the Native New Yorker’s client list is brimming with top talent, including Christoph Waltz, who won a second Oscar earlier this year (“Django Unchained”); Nina Arianda, last year’s actress Tony winner for Venus in Fur; Frank Langella, who was nominated for a Tony for Man and Boy; Christina Hendricks, Alan Rickman, Ray Romano, William Hurt, Julia Stiles, David Strathairn and Taye Diggs. But Schweitzer also gets his clients prime film gigs with Waltz set for Terry Gilliam’s “The Zero Theorem” (the thesp will also produce) and Tim Burton’s “Big Eyes”; Langella in Grace of Monaco and the HBO film “Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight” and Rickman, who will direct and star opposite Kate Winslet in “A Little Chaos.”
Alan Suna & Stuart Match-Suna
Douglas C. Steiner
Kaufman Astoria Studios
Without these three facilities, the New York production boom would not exist. Brothers Alan Suna and Stuart Match-Suna, via their Silvercup Studios, have helped transform Queens into a vital production center, with HBO’s “Girls,” CBS’ “Elementary”
and “Person of Interest” and USA’s “White Collar” shooting there, among other series, films and commercials. The brothers have recently expanded the studio complex and opened up the use of the borough’s waterfront.
Steiner Studios — where Fox’s “The Following,” CW’s “The Carrie Diaries” and HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” spend time — occupies a 20-acre complex
inside the Brooklyn Navy Yard that employs 1,300 people. Owner Douglas Steiner is overseeing the studio’s fifth expansion, featuring new soundstages that would double its space.
Kaufman Astoria Studios president Rosenbluth, who has been at the helm of the Queens studio for almost 20 years, announced plans to open the city’s only outdoor movie set in the Astoria neighborhood, and also boasts a recording studios that houses a 70-piece orchestra.
His persona as “30 Rock”’s Jack Donaghy lives on in his Capital One credit card ads, but while Baldwin has exploited that pitiless New York exec, he’s also a fearless performer, on Broadway, TV and film. As a mark of honor, he’s hosted quintessential Gotham skein, “Saturday Night Live,” more often than anyone else. Currently, Baldwin is toplining Broadway’s “Orphans,” and is rumored to be in line for a late-night yakker on NBC. He’ll be back on the bigscreen in Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine,” which shot in New York and San Francisco.
C.K. makes much use of New York and New Yorkers on his hit FX skein, Louie — which he writes, stars in, directs and edits — and the much-lauded comic never seems to rest on his past success. April 13 saw his fourth HBO special, “Oh My God,” air while he continues to tour. He pioneered direct-to-consumer sales with his $5 Internet broadcasts of comedy specials, and has won a few Emmys in the process. He’ll be taking a turn on the bigscreen (with Alec Baldwin, above) this year in Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine” and is filming David O. Russell’s “American Hustle,” due for release later this year.
Barry Diller & Diane von Furstenberg
IAC topper; fashion designer
The power couple is active in Gotham’s social, arts, fashion, media and philanthropic scenes. Diller’s InterActiveCorp conglom owns more than 150 Web companies but his latest endeavor, TV startup Aereo — which streams broadcast signals over the Web for free — is in the thick of legal battles with broadcasters and TV station owners. Wife von Furstenberg built an international, New York-based fashion empire over the past four decades and tops apparel and lifestyle conglom DVF.
Chief digital officer, NYC Digital
Pat Swinney Kaufman
Exec director, New York State Governor’s Office for Motion Picture and Television Development
Haot oversees New York’s digital initiatives for Internet access, education, open data, engagement and tech industry growth. Among recent accomplishments: the We Are Made in NY campaign, to attract and support tech companies in the city, and the launch of the Small Business Digital Toolkit for local company growth. Next up: a redesign of city website NYC.gov.
The digital initiatives work in conjunction with the overall biz-friendly package New York offers. That tax credit that’s helped lure film and TV productions back to New York? It’s overseen by Kaufman. She’s charged with making New York a viable option for shoots — including The Amazing Spider-Man 2, recently touted as the largest movie ever filmed in New York, with 3,500 jobs and some 11,000 extras.
Chair/CEO, Radical Media
While helming hipper-than-hip ad campaigns for the likes of Cadillac, Nike and Fiat is the primary revenue driver for N.Y.-based Kamen and L.A.-based Frank Scherma’s Radical Media, the company is also a key player in branded entertainment, and has recently had a hand in OWN’s Master Class series, ESPN spesh You Don’t Know Bo and last year’s Paul Simon docu Under African Skies.
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen
Founders, the Row
The former child stars have parlayed their high profiles and love of fashion into an empire, and emerged as a force to be reckoned with in the New York fashion firmament. The twins are not only responsible for building a $1 billion business, but they’re also taken seriously on Seventh Avenue. While the jump from celebrity to designer is nothing new, when the sisters launched their luxury label, the Row, in 2006, the fashion industry took notice. Acclaim followed. In 2012, the duo beat Marc Jacobs and the Proenza Schouler designers for the prestigious CDFA Womenswear Designer of the Year, at an event in Lincoln Center, for the brand that includes ready-to-wear, eyewear and handbags.
The formidable New York-based producer has long balanced his prolific film output (No Country for Old Men, The Social Network, Moonrise Kingdom) with stage successes (The Book of Mormon, Death of a Salesman). There’s TV in the mix, too, with HBO’s The Newsroom. Among the projects on the docket: The Testament of Mary, opening April 22 on Broadway, and the Coen brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis, to be released this fall.
Shane Smith & Suroosh Alvi
Depending on whom you ask, Vice, led by multimedia provocateurs Shane Smith and Suroosh Alvi, is either the brave new face of investigative journalism or its William Wilson-like doppelganger making a mockery of the craft — sometimes it can be both simultaneously, as in this year’s excursion to Kim Jong-Un’s residence with Dennis Rodman in tow. Whatever one’s opinion may be, the burgeoning Brooklyn-based media empire has certainly bucked a number of trends, attaining profitability while also expanding into music, advertising, books and an HBO series, “Vice” on HBO, which premiered April 5. Series targets millennials with its non-traditional take on hot-button issues like guns in school.
Chen’s title may tell the world he’s a CEO but his mandate is much more Occupy Wall Street: as the founder of crowdsourcing powerhouse Kickstarter, he’s the guy who’s letting anyone on the Internet bring their creative project to life. And while the Lower East Side-based crowdsourcing startup has raised more than $570 million for 39,000-plus creative projects since April 2009, mainstream Hollywood is now coming calling, with the producers behind cancelled CW cult skein Veronica Mars recently raising almost $4 million for a feature film version. Six Kickstarter-funded films have nabbed Oscar noms and 2012’s Inocente was the first to win, grabbing the docu short kudo.
Head, Entertainment East Content partnerships, YouTube
Director, Content Partnerships, Music, YouTube
From the outside, managing the mass amount of content on YouTube would seem a relaxed enough gig: Just open the floodgates to users, and watch the videos surge in. Reality is considerably different, however, and Lee, who heads YouTube’s Entertainment East staff, has been busy forging partnerships with everyone from Sony Pictures and Lionsgate to CBS, NBCUniversal and Discovery Networks. Her pacts have helped global entertainment giants create a brand footprint in the digital world. Compatriot Vivien Lewit, director of music content partnerships, has done similar legwork on the music side to bring artists and labels onboard. Country music series on channel Country Now are on the development board for YouTube this year.
The 77-year-old writer-director-actor-comedian-musician doesn’t show any signs of slowing down, with his career in the past decade straying from his native New York City to more exotic locations (Barcelona, Rome, Paris, London) for filming and picking up Oscar noms (and a win) along the way. But with his latest, Blue Jasmine, he’s back in Manhattan (while giving San Francisco some screen time). His oeuvre has given fellow film and TV directors (think Lena Dunham) permission to voice their own personal neuroses and eccentricities.
Tom Bernard & Michael Barker
Co-presidents, Sony Pictures Classics
It must get tiring propping up the entire foreign-language arthouse film import business year after year, but Sony Pictures Classics honchos Barker and Bernard show no signs of flagging, spotlighting quality foreign fare while providing safe harbor for auteurs like Woody Allen. Awards-fave “Amour” was funneled through the shingle last year, and 2013 will see the SPC releases of “Before Midnight,” “Kill Your Darlings” and Allen’s “Blue Jasmine.”
Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, Craig Hatkoff
The Tribeca Film Festival
It’s too spread out! It’s awkwardly placed on the fest calendar! It’s not even in Tribeca! Founded by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff in 2002 to revitalize a post-9/11 downtown, the Tribeca Film Festival has weathered the fest-in-search-of-an-identity tag to become an increasingly confident and robust city event with a wide array of industry and community activities.
The Film Society of Lincoln Center execs Kuo (exec director), Lim (director of Cinematheque programming) and Jones (director of programming for the New York Film Festival) play a vital role in showcasing content and making Gotham a crucial destination for filmmakers and other artists via the New York Film Festival, the various other sprocket operas co-presented by the Film Society and year-round film programs. Fall’s annual NYFF showcases the best of world cinema and American indies just as awards season is taking off, giving Oscar hopefuls a high-profile berth from which to launch campaigns. The Film Society honored Barbra Streisand April 22 at this year’s 40th annual Chaplin Award Gala, its major fundraising event.
CEO, Focus Features
President, Focus Features
Several years after so many studio specialty divisions went the way of Betamax, Focus Features’ toppers Schamus and Karpen continue to straddle the ever-thinning line between the multiplex and the arthouse, with Wes Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom” proving a particularly bright spot last year. “A Place Beyond the Pines” and The World’s End hold promise for the current season. Schamus also teaches at Columbia U.
At an age when most of his contemporaries have settled into a comfortable second gear, Scorsese’s career somehow seems to be accelerating. Having tackled his first 3D feature with 2011’s Hugo, the master helmer will bow his inaugural 2D digital feature, “The Wolf of Wall Street,” this fall, and a wealth of projects remain in his hopper, ranging from an HBO documentary on Bill Clinton to the “Gangs of New York” TV series to advocating for film preservation around the world.
Founder, Cinetic Media
If you are an independent filmmaker, Sloss is your man — if you are lucky enough to get him on your team. Since founding Cinetic Media in 2001, the entertainment lawyer-sales-agent-producer has negotiated landmark deals for high-profile Sundance fare including “Little Miss Sunshine,” “Precious,” “The Kids Are All Right,” “Napoleon Dynamite” and “Exit Through the Gift Shop.” Sloss’ 2013 Sundance lineup consisted of nine films ranging from a doc about late-term abortions (After Tiller) to the Paul Rudd-Emile Hirsch starrer “Prince Avalanche,” which was acquired by Magnolia Pictures.
Harvey & Bob Weinstein
Founders, The Weinstein Co.
While they may show their most deliciously Machiavellian sides during award season campaigns, the true genius of the Brothers Weinstein lies in their scouting and release scheduling expertise, which continues to flourish. Snatching up Sundance breakout Fruitvale Station and plotting autumn rollouts for “Grace of Monaco” and “The Butler,” the brothers also have sequels “Scary Movie 5” and “Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill For” on the docket.
General manager, Metropolitan Opera
The world of opera is not one historically at ease with change — witness the furors that can still erupt over supertitles — which makes Met general manager Gelb an especially Faustian figure with his high-profile innovations. In his seven seasons at the helm, the former Sony Classical topper has introduced a Met iPad app, a SiriusXM channel, and the Live in HD broadcasts, which have seen Met productions beamed into cinemas in 64 countries.
President, Jujamcyn Theaters
Jujamcyn Theaters prexy Roth recently acquired a majority stake in the firm — one of the three New York companies that own the majority of Broadway theaters. Since rising to his current post in 2009, his tenure has included “The Book of Mormon,” now selling like hotcakes at Jujamcyn’s Eugene O’Neill Theater, and his behind-the-scenes rescue of play Clybourne Park, for which he accepted the Tony last year.
Exec director, Nederlander Organization
Jimmy L. Nederlander
President, Nederlander Organization
Scandalios is a 25-year veteran of the Nederlander Org, one of the largest legit production companies in North America and the owner of nine Broadway houses. As the exec director, he’s a key decision-maker on what titles get Main Stem real estate. With two Street-defining smashes (“Wicked,” “The Lion King”) in the Nederlander fold, this season’s lineup includes “Motown” and “Annie.” Nederlander, president of the family business, not only produces but also oversees the many Nederlander theaters across the country and London, and spearheads the company’s customer-service focused business initiatives, among his other duties.
President, Disney Theatrical Prods.
Under the leadership of president and producer Schumacher, Disney Theatrical Prods. has held onto its major commercial might in part by keeping nimble, feeding licensing markets far beyond Broadway. While “The Lion King” remains box office royalty, “Newsies” seized on positive response last year to jump from an intended tour to a Main Stem run, and “Mary Poppins” shuttered this spring to make way for the incoming musical version of “Aladdin.”
Philip J. Smith
Chairman and co-CEO, Shubert Organization
The Shubert Organization, of which Smith is chairman and co-CEO, owns 17 of the 40 Broadway theaters, making him one of the most powerful men in the industry. Smith’s 2011 Tony honor for lifetime achievement can be measured in the truest sense of the words: He really has been in the theater his whole life, starting with an afterschool gig as an usher in Brooklyn.
CEO, Sony/ATV Music Publishing
When Bandier jumped ship from EMI Music Publishing to run Sony/ATV in 2007, it must have been difficult to leave behind the organization he’d spent 17 years building into the largest music publishing company in the world. But with Sony’s $2.2 billion acquisition of EMI’s publishing holdings finally becoming official last year, he’s now been reunited with his old digs, creating the world’s leading publisher by a Grand Canyon-sized margin. Who says you can’t go home again?
Despite his name changes, one thing has remained constant: Gotham’s music don knows how to make money. Though music now makes up less than 20% of the impresario’s revenue, Combs balances his checkbook with other endeavors: a deal with Ciroc vodka, two clothing lines, a marketing firm and, of course, his Bad Boy record label. Music-themed cabler Revolt is his next mercenary project, which is slated to preem later this year.
In late 2011, after “Glee” covered “We Are Young,” a single that had originally gotten little notice off the New York-based indie band Fun’s sophomore studio album, “Some Nights,” Fun became a household name. The song has sold more than 6 million digital copies. Three hit singles helped propel the album to platinum sales early this year. Nate Ruess, Andrew Dost and Jack Antonoff joined music’s elite when they nabbed six Grammy nominations, tying with Frank Ocean, Jay-Z and Kanye West. Group nabbed new artist and song of the year awards and ended 2012 as one of the year’s top-selling bands.
Since releasing the aptly titled “Dead Presidents” in 1996, Jay-Z has continued to be hip-hop’s most conspicuous capitalist, but his recent ventures have pushed into Scrooge McDuck territory. With activities ranging from a foray into sports management with company Roc Nation, a share of Brooklyn’s Barclay’s Center, soundtrack work on Cannes opening night film “The Great Gatsby” and a massive summer tour with Justin Timberlake, the rapper would be well within his rights to cease recording altogether. Which he won’t, as a sequel to “Watch the Throne,” his platinum-certified 2011 collaboration with Kanye West, looms on the horizon.
Although surgery forced the cancelation of her wildly successful “Born This Way” tour earlier this year, it was a rare setback for the singer-performer, one of the biggest-selling and earning pop stars to emerge in the last decade. The native New Yorker (nee Stefani Germanotta) has built herself an empire around her eclectic blend of dance pop, arty and elborate costumes, and an overall philosphy toward life and art that has earned her the most loyal fans in entertainment.
CEO of Fox News and chairman of Fox Television Stations Group
Ailes is the mastermind who vaulted Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity to fame, and grew Fox News into a cable force by using his years in TV and as a media consultant for such Republicans as Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, to give the fledgling newsie a right-wing identity that was ratings gold. In October, Ailes re-upped his contract for four more years; in March, biography Roger Ailes: Off Camera, created a media stir but Ailes shrugged and went back to guiding his cable news powerhouse.
Matthew C. Blank
Chairman/CEO, Showtime Networks
Tired of living in the shadow of rival HBO’s original programming, longtime Showtime topper Blank initiated the development process that has left the net in its current sweet spot, with last December’s “Dexter” season finale notching the cabler its highest-ever original series ratings, as hit “Homeland” raked in the Emmys all the while. The net has grown its subscriber base every year for the past eight years.
Chairman/CEO, Ion Media Networks
Since 2006, Burgess has led the financial turnaround of Ion Media Networks, owner of 60-plus TV stations in major U.S. markets, including at least one in each of the top 20. He’s also spearheaded the branding of the company’s own network, Ion Television, which reaches over 100 million households, and the launch of special-interest channels qubo and Ion Life. As a champion of the broadcast biz, Burgess helped found the Open Mobile Video Coalition, now part of NAB, which lobbies for technology allowing local stations to beam their signals directly into mobile devices — letting consumers bypass the crowded cellphone spectrum and receive video directly from TV towers. Ion recently partnered with Variety owner Penske Media to launch entertainment news service ENTV.
Vice chairman and director of strategy, Cisneros Group
As a key exec of one of the largest media congloms in the world, the 81-year-old Cisneros Group of Companies, Ivy League-educated Adriana Cisneros has worked alongside her father, company chairman Gustavo Cisneros, to bring the Venezuelan conglom into the digital arena, adroitly tapping social media, mobile game apps and creating an interactive strategy for the company’s TV programs.
You can’t get more old New York than Cooper — his mom is a Vanderbilt. While the host of CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 stumbled this year in the difficult daypart with his sydicated daytime talker, “Anderson Live,” Cooper is a fixture on the New York social scene and media as well as wherever news is breaking — ranging from the Newtown, Conn., shootings to uprisings in the Middle East to coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings.
To update the old saw about the Velvet Underground, less than a million viewers may tune into Dunham’s HBO series “Girls” on any given Sunday, but every one of them seems to have access to an influential media platform. She’s the voice of a generation and her indie breakout “Tiny Furniture” brought her to the attention of tastemakers as diverse as Judd Apatow (who exec produces “Girls”) and David Carr (New York Times culture vulture) in her brief yet prolific career. If online notoriety is ever monetized, Dunham will put Wall Street to shame.
TV biz watchers were abuzz when Spanish-language network Univision nabbed enough 18- to 34-year-old viewers to beat out NBC in Nielsen’s TV ratings for the first three months of 2013. It was the first time that a network that wasn’t one of the big four — ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC — had finished that high. But it might not be long before the Spanish-language net is ready to take on some more serious competition. Since Falco took the helm in 2011, the net has been aggressive in launching three cable channels, with a planned expansion in English-language programming continuing to tighten its grip on America’s fastest-growing demo.
Host, Late Night
Brooklyn native Fallon is moving to an earlier timeslot in 2014, taking over “The Tonight Show” from Jay Leno, and bringing the venerable latenight talker back to New York, where it all began 60 years ago. As Late Night host, Fallon’s mix of kooky videos, impersonations and music spotlights keeps him connected with a younger demo, and is a constant presence on YouTube as many of his bits go viral. NBC is hoping that Fallon’s younger-skewing appeal will keep it at No. 1 in the timeslot, which is facing stiffer competition from ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” as well as Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart”/”The Colbert Report” block.
Chairman, Cable Entertainment Group, NBCUniversal
Earler this year, NBCUniversal restructured, giving Hammer oversight of the 12 non-news, non-sports brands, which include USA, Syfy, E! and Bravo, as well as shingles Universal Cable Prods. and Wilshire Studios — quite a vote of confidence by the company for the exec. Under Hammer, USA has bagged the No. 1 spot in basic cable for a record-setting six years with a swath of topnotch Emmy and Golden Globe-honored skeins, such as “Monk,” “Burn Notice,” “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” and “Political Animals.” Her newly named Cable Entertainment Group accounts for a whammo 50% of NBCUniversal’s cash flow.
Exec producer, “Saturday Night Live”
Much like the postal service, “Saturday Night Live” has been around so long, doing what it does so consistently, that it’s easy to overlook just how essential it is to its surrounding ecosystem. Continuing to produce marquee stars (Jimmy Fallon being anointed to take over the “Tonight Show” is the latest in the line of “SNL” stars to establish a huge career after the show), and providing an increasingly vital platform for emerging musicians, Michaels’ value to the business at large has only grown since he pioneered the SNL model in the 1970s.
President and CEO, CBS Corp.
Moonves may lead a network with an older-skewing demographic, but who cares? CBS has been No. 1 in total viewers for nine of past 10 years, and continues to dominate with such aging series as CSI, Survivor and NCIS — and its Monday comedy lineup is now a juggernaut as well, with “How I Met Your Mother,” “Rules of Engagement,” “2 Broke Girls” and “Mike & Molly” delivering consistently strong ratings. Its pay cabler Showtime has also become a significant player, while its other TV assets — including sports, production, sales and distribution shingles — continue to fire up the bottom line.
When he ascended to the CEO position at HBO, Plepler’s reputation with the cabler was already well established. In his preceding five years as co-president, Plepler had been responsible for greenlighting everything from “Boardwalk Empire” to zeitgeisty “Girls” to pop-culture obsession “Game of Thrones” — the type of filmography on which any film studio mogul could hang his hat. And with adaptations from such heavy-hitting scribes as Stephen King and Neil Gaiman on deck, there could be plenty more where that came from.
Chairman, A+E Networks
President-CEO, A+E Networks
With A+E Networks’ channels on fire, parent companies Disney and Hearst Corp. rewarded Raven and Dubuc on April 22 with promotions to chairman and prexy-CEO, respectively. Under their leadership, A+E outlets have grown impressively during the past five years, with A+E fielding a top 10 primetime hit in “Duck Dynasty,” history making headlines with record auds for “The Bible” miniseries and Lifetime on the path to a ratings turnaround with sexy hits like “The Client List.”
President/CEO, AMC Networks
Some might have wondered if AMC wasn’t trying to punch well above its weight when it ventured to take on HBO with its original programming. And they likely wondered the same when IFC branched out from simply televising films to distributing them theatrically. After “Breaking Bad,” “Mad Men” and “In the Loop,” few doubters were left. Indeed, “Mad Men” returned April 7 with 3.4 million viewers, a drop from last season’s preem but strong nonetheless. Its Sunday-night staple “The Walking Dead” is still drawing monster ratings, and is also a hit worldwide. Like the shows on rival HBO, AMC’s offerings have dug into the pop cultural zeigeist, a true sign of success. AMC topper Sapan continues to take risks, with Paul Schrader’s much-discussed “The Canyons” picked up for a 2013 release.
President, ABC News
Though still under 50, ABC News topper Sherwood has toiled in network news for nearly a quarter century, and his combination of youth and experience proved a perfect fit for “Good Morning America,” which he led to unseat morning show leader, Today. That NBC show had topped the morning ratings for 14 years until late 2012 when the team of Robin Roberts, George Stephanopoulos, Josh Elliott, Lara Spencer and Sam Champion clicked with viewers. Now in charge of all the net’s news ops, Sherwood still manages to make time to write fiction and nonfiction — one of his novels was adapted into a Universal film in 2010.