Biz vet Adrienne Becker takes tech incubator approach to content development
It’s a startup production venture that operates like a technology incubator.
Glass Elevator Media, launched early last year by biz vet Adrienne Becker with backing from private investors, is starting to gain a toehold with a range of Web and TV projects in the works, as well as a feature in the hopper with Killer Films and helmer Susanne Bier, and a stage musical now in workshop phase. Glass Elevator recently recruited former Brillstein-Grey TV exec Fernanda Caraphina to spearhead TV development.
Before launching Glass Elevator, Becker (pictured above) spent four years working as a enterepreneur-in-residence at CAA and for the investment fund Media Farm scouting media business opportunities. But she was underwhelmed by the quality of the content she came across. She was also frustrated by investors’ focus on properties will potential to reach mass audiences when the long tail of digital media is all about allowing users to seek out content that speaks to individual taste.
In the past year Glass Elevator has set development pacts with nearly two dozen creatives. Becker’s pitch to prospective partners is that in exchange for less money upfront than with a traditional development deal, creators will retain more of their IP and have more say in how and where the property is exploited.
The highest-profile project on Glass Elevator’s initial slate is a feature based on the novel “This Beautiful Life,” with helmer Bier attached and Killer Films on board as co-producer. “Friends Like These” is a tuner co-written by Becker that was recently workshopped at L.A.’s Geffen Playhouse, as well as in Gotham.
Web series already produced include the moms-unleashed comedy “Bench Warmers,” from the Broad Comedy troupe, and and “Park Slope, USA,” which skewers contempo parenting styles. Coming in the fall is “She’s So Boss,” a look at girls and young women in leadership roles, based on the 1999 book “Girl Boss” by Stacy Kravetz. Glass Elevator is working on sponsorship pacts to support expanded distribution of the Web skeins.
The company is in preliminary discussions with network buyers on two traditional TV series, one of which is “Resident Mom,” a comedy about a corporate consultant.
“We are carving out a new space by applying the best practices of tech incubators to entertainment entrepreneurs,” Becker says. “As a production incubator, we’ll develop, finance, produce and monetize content with partners in which we jointly own the property across multiple platforms. We’re actively curating storytellers to satisfy demands that are not being fulfilled. We’re looking for stereotype-busting points of view.”
Becker added that she raised the initial seed money for Glass Elevator surprisingly fast after articulating her vision. Before moving into the investment arena, Becker was a top communications exec at Barry Diller’s USA Networks Inc. (the predecessor to IAC) and Nielsen, and she served a hitch as CEO of Daily Candy, the digital lifestyle service now owned by Comcast Corp. She now divides her time between L.A. and Gotham.
Pam Koffler, principal at Killer Films with Christone Vachon, was impressed by Becker’s follow-through when the prospect of working together on “This Beautiful Life” came about. Pic is based on the 2011 novel by Helen Schulman about a family’s struggle when a son is caught up in a viral video scandal.
“Adrienne really set some (financial) goals and within a short amount of time our goals were met and we were able to get Helen writing,” Koffler says. “That’s an unusual experience, unlike what we’re used to where it’s a slog to pull together any development money.”
Glass Elevator (a nod to the unpredictable lift in Roald Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” books) is not strictly focused on women-centric projects, but it’s also no surprise Becker has gravitated toward femme creators. One of the reasons she launched the company was her dismay at the nature of the programming her 9-year-old daughter was watching.
“She’s So Boss,” hosted by thesp Jackie Emerson (“The Hunger Games”), is an effort to inspire as well as to entertain.
Glass Elevator “is kind of a Petri dish for new ideas,” Emerson says. “Adrienne is the biggest girl boss I have ever met.”