Variety’s pick of New Yorkers who have made an impact in the past year — from stage to screen to standup to digital — on the Big Apple’s entertainment and media scene.
Actor-producer-writer-“Late Night With Seth Meyers” bandleader
There’s no doubt the “Saturday Night Live” alum is one of New York’s hardest-working performers. In addition to showrunning IFC’s “Portlandia,” he teamed with Seth Meyers and Bill Hader to produce the docu-spoof series “Documentary Now!,” which IFC liked so much it ordered two more seasons two days before its August premiere. Despite juggling two series, most weeknights you can find Armisen at 30 Rock in Studio 8G rocking out in his gig as bandleader for NBC’s “Late Night With Seth Meyers.”
President and g.m., History
Bennett earned a promotion to running History after the two A+E Networks’ channels she previously ran defied ratings gravity. FYI has been her biggest project in the past two years as the former Bio channel was relaunched as a lifestyle brand with a smart spirit. “We’ve had quite an unusual opportunity to reach audiences with non-standard content about how people live their lives in the modern day,” Bennett says. The BBC and TLC alum gives credit to the culture of A+E Networks. “There’s been so much support for experimentation on how to invent the brand itself,” she says.
Courtesy of Jana Bennett
The undisputed King of Comedy among talent agents, Berkowitz assembled the highest-grossing standup comedy tour of all time this year for red-hot client Kevin Hart. He had four other clients topline sold-out shows at Madison Square Garden: Aziz Ansari, Bill Burr, Louis C.K. and Amy Schumer. APA has stepped up its investment in his sector to allow clients become more entrepreneurial in their tours. “I worked with hard-working, highly original comedians,” Berkowitz says. “I owe it to them to take a page out of their books and be innovative and original in the way I approach my business.”
Courtesy of Brian Friedman
As Blank closes out his 20-year run as Showtime CEO, the premium cabler has had the most eventful year in its history. The company went into new frontiers with the launch in July of its stand-alone digital offering. It launched its first full-fledged international offshoot in Canada earlier this year, and teamed with HBO to launch the highest-grossing PPV event in history with the Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao bout that brought in more than $400 million. “This brand is bigger than it’s ever been,” Blank says.
Courtesy of Thomas Iannaccone
Senior VP, acquisitions and
Bocco is a seasoned buyer of indies, scooping up titles for IFC Films, Sundance Selects and IFC Midnight, all owned by AMC Networks Inc., as senior VP of acquisitions and productions. She negotiated the distrib deal for “Boyhood,” bought Andrew Haigh’s “45 Years” out of Berlin and the buzzy comedy “Sleeping With Other People” at Sundance. “We’re always looking for quality, or something that can hit you in the gut,” Bocco says. “We’re very filmmaker-driven. We always respond to a new voice.”
Courtesy of Arianna Bocco
President of Business & Media, Major League Baseball
Thanks to an early streaming start — MLB.tv bowed in 2002 — Bowman has built MLB Advanced Media into a go-to provider for other media firms: He inked a six-year, $600 million pact with the NHL to handle Internet video and TV distribution. Other customers include HBO, WWE and PlayStation Vue. That’s on top of over 3.5 million paying customers for baseball’s online-video services. Now the league is rethinking how it integrates all its assets, Bowman says: “It’s every platform—TV, digital and everything offline.”
Peter Foley/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Power Couple: Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach
Actress-writer Gerwig and filmmaker Baumbach are the epitome of New York’s indie film community. The two are collaborators in love and work, having co-written screenplays for the Baumbach-directed, Gerwig-toplined features “Frances Ha” (2012) and “Mistress America” (2015). And the vitality of their relationship is believed to be partly the inspiration for Baumbach’s other 2015 release, “While We’re Young,” which he wrote and directed. The ensembler, toplined by Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts, revolves around two couples at different stages of life.
Gregory Pace/BEI/REX Shutterstock
President, advertising sales,
Fox Networks Group
Byrne saw his portfolio at Fox expanded substantially last October when he was promoted from the Fox broadcast network to a group-level post. By putting a single executive over its broadcast, cable and sports properties (with the exception of Fox News Channel and Fox Business News), parent 21st Century Fox hopes to lure marketers with the chance to tailor advertising packages across a broader swath of shows. Byrne’s challenge will be to find new ways to get marketers interested in everything the company has to offer, from the edginess of FX to the earthiness of National Geographic Channel.
Agent, ICM Partners
Cohen has a flair for finding and nurturing young comedians — no surprise given her nearly two decades working with talent at “Saturday Night Live” before she joined ICM Partners in 2012. She’s been a key player in the rise of a new generation of multi-tasking female comics — including “SNL’s” Cecily Strong, Nikki Glaser (one of Variety’s 10 Comics to Watch this year), Noel Wells and Jessica Lowe, who are all over the dial as talent, writers and producers. Cohen also helped orchestrate the sale of the Duplass brothers-produced animated series “Animals” to HBO out of this year Sundance fest. “There are so many great platforms for comedy right now,” Cohen says.
Courtesy of Ayala Cohen
Power Couple: Beyonce and Jay-Z
This pair needs no introduction. On the social scene, Beyonce stops traffic every year at the Met Ball with her elaborate frocks. Jay Z is often spotted court-side at Knicks games as well as the Brooklyn Nets, in which he was once an investor. He has numerous business ventures rooted in Gotham through his Roc Nation empire, including the Roc Nation Sports agency he runs in partnership with CAA. In between her mega-grossing world tours, Beyonce recently teamed with exercise guru Marco Borges to launch her own business venture, the vegan meal delivery service
22 Days Nutrition.
Erik Pendzich/REX Shutterstock
Host, executive producer/
“The Late Show With Stephen Colbert”
After just a few weeks on the air, Colbert is setting the tone for a more sophisticated conversation in late-night TV. His mix of business leaders, politicos, writers, activists and sundry deep thinkers with the usual parade of celebrity guests has quickly distinguished CBS’ “The Late Show” from its many competitors. The real Stephen Colbert, it turns out, has a healthy curiosity about the world, yet he can be delightfully goofy when the situation warrants. And finally, the standup opening monologue gives Colbert a nightly forum for showing off his dance moves.
Courtesy of CBS
Coleman was looking to join a fast-paced Internet media outfit — and he got it in spades. BuzzFeed has doubled its headcount to more than 1,000 since the 37-year veteran of the ad biz joined the social-media fueled publisher in August 2014. “What a wild ride it has been,” he says. Video is bigger than ever on his radar, following NBCUniversal’s $200 million investment this summer, and he’s tasked with turning BuzzFeed’s high-scale hyper-distribution into cash. “In an ideal world,” he says, “we would be indifferent to the platform where our audience views our content.”
Courtesy of Greg Coleman
President and general manager, AMC and SundanceTV
Collier would have been busy enough this year looking after all the activity at AMC — the finale of “Mad Men,” the premieres of “Better Call Saul” and “Fear the Walking Dead” — but in April he added oversight of SundanceTV to his plate. He also spearheaded the creation of AMC Studios to help the AMC Networks cable group have more control over development and production. With “Saul” and “Fear” performing beyond expectations and a slew of high-profile new series on tap for AMC, Collier is ready to dive into the world of SundanceTV. “I don’t think we’ve ever been better positioned for the future,” he says.
Jacqueline Micalizzi/REX Shutterstock
President, Embassy Row
Davies’ thriving Sony Pictures TV-based Embassy Row banner is consistently juggling no less than a half dozen reality series, including Food Network’s “Cutthroat Kitchen” to E!’s “The Grace Helbig Show” to AMC’s “Talking Dead.” He’s also the ringleader and exec producer of Andy Cohen’s nightly Bravo talker “Watch What Happens Live.” In his spare time, the British-born producer and his and friend Roger Bennett serve as soccer commentators for NBC Sports Network. Most of the program, dubbed “Men in Blazers,” is the shot in a makeshift studio — aka a closet in Davies’ Hudson Street office.
Courtesy of Adam Levine
Executive VP, talent and content development, CNN Worldwide
Entelis is behind some of the buzz CNN is getting for primetime offerings such as its documentary series on the 1970s or John Walsh’s track-’em-down crimestopping series “The Hunt.” A strategy to build a pipeline of original nonfiction programming for primetime gelled in 2015, she says. “We are recruiting talent that is becoming bigger and better each year” as well as selecting films like “I’ll Be Me,” a devastating look at singer Glen Campbell’s stuggle with Alzheimer’s disease. She credits smarter use of social media for CNN’s ratings uptick.
Courtesy of CNN
Oskar Eustis & Patrick Willingham
Artistic director, Public Theater & Executive director, Public Theater
What do “Fun Home,” this year’s Tony Awards winner, and “Hamilton,” next year’s odds-on awards favorite, have in common? They both originated at Off Broadway’s Public Theater, overseen by artistic director Eustis and managing director Willingham. The two-barrel Broadway success this year is indicative of the creative fertility of the Public’s mission to develop and produce work that embraces diversity, risk and community, ranging from Off Broadway plays to Free Shakespeare in the Park to Public Works.
Courtesy of Oskar Eustis & Patrick Willingham
President-CEO, Univision Communications
Falco has spent the past four years gearing up for the big development to come later this year — namely the initial public offering that will make Univision a publicly traded company for the first time since 2007. The Spanish-language media giant is poised to capitalize on the growing interest in reaching Hispanic consumers, which is why Univision has revved up its news, sports and entertainment offerings since the NBC alum signed on as CEO. And Falco took a principled stand on behalf of the audience Univision serves in June when it scrapped a five-year TV contract with Donald Trump’s Miss Universe Organization after Trump equated Mexican immigrants with “criminals” while on the campaign trial.
Courtesy of Randy Falco
content and brand officer,
Scripps Networks Interactive
Finch was promoted in August
to an uber-post overseeing content for Scripps’ half-dozen cablers: Food Network, Cooking Channel, HGTV, DIY, Travel
Channel and Great American Country. HGTV and DIY have thrived on her watch in recent years, which meant her elevation was no surprise. Her focus now is harnessing the collective strength of Scripps’ lifestyle brands. “There is strength in numbers,” Finch says. Admirers say she’s got the marketing and programming chops to lead the company to new heights.
Courtesy of cripps Networks Interactive
The two-time Tony winner is a thoroughly modern thesp who maintains her roots on stage
even as she’s becoming a bigger player in television. Foster’s charms were put to good use in Darren Star’s “Younger,” which is among the sitcoms that launched an era of TV Land original comedies. During her downtime between seasons one and two of “Younger” this summer, Foster skedaddled to Encores! to go back in time as a flapper and star of “The Wild Party.”
Jim Smeal/BEI/REX Shutterstock
Coming off 2014’s successful first season of HBO’s “True Detective,” Fukunaga jetted to Ghana for the most difficult shoot of his life—“Beasts of No Nation,” a feature about child soldiers in an unspecified country in West Africa. The gamble paid off when Netflix shelled out $12 million for the film and made it the inaugural drama to receive theatrical release in its slate of original movies. “I lost 20 pounds on that shoot,” Fukunaga told Variety over the summer. “I was eating peanut soup and local squash.” He’s now working on the development of other film projects and TV series.
AGF s.r.l./REX Shutterstock
Goldberg’s longtime client David Muir scaled the top of the TV news mountain this year in succeeding Diane Sawyer as anchor of ABC’s “World News.” No matter how much the news business has changed in the digital era, anchoring a Big Three network newscast is still a coup. “Those seats don’t come up all that often,” Goldberg says. “Watching him work so hard to get there was very rewarding.” Meanwhile, another ABC News star, Robin Roberts, expanded her palette with the launch of Rock’n Robin Prods., which hit the ground running with specials for ESPN and ABC News. Goldberg’s hard work earned him a promotion to partner status last year at the UTA-owned ageny.
Courtesy of Peter Goldberg
Partner, Gersh Agency
Landing client Adam Driver the bad-guy role in “Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens” was a big victory for the 14-year Gersh Agency veteran, who was upped to partner status last year. Watching longtime client Kelli O’Hara claim her first Tony Award win (after six nominations) for her work in “The King and I” was another highlight of the past year. Goldstein feels energized by the explosion of film, TV and stage production in the city in recent years. “There are so many places for people to work here,” she says. “It’s wonderful to be a part of that.”
Courtesy of Randi Goldstein
Exec VP of Acquisitions, Production & Development, The Weinstein Co.
As the head of U.S. acquisitions, production and development for the Weinstein Co., where he’s worked for 11 years, Guando keeps his boss’ Oscars streak alive—from “The Artist” to “Philomena.” He oversaw the release of “The Imitation Game” (which grossed $91 million domestically) and is working on the upcoming Todd Haynes drama “Carol,” which debuted at Cannes. “The most important thing I look for in a movie is original storytelling that encourages and engages audience interaction,” Guando says. “There is still an eager audience for the theatrical experience, and it’s our job to support filmmakers that have something new and exciting to say.”
Courtesy of Dan Guando
Five summers ago, Gyllenhaal removed himself from the studio tentpole track (after “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time”) and started a career reinvention. It worked. Last December, the thesp received his second Golden Globe nom for his work in “Nightcrawler.” A month later he made his Broadway debut alongside Ruth Wilson in “Constellations.” In June, the Weinstein Co. released the boxing drama “Southpaw,” which not only defied box office expectations, but also earned the actor Oscar buzz. Award season chatter got even louder earlier this month when thesp’s true-story adventure tale “Everest” opened at the Venice Film Festival immediately followed by the Toronto Intl. Film Festival preem of his Fox Searchlight drama “Demolition.”
Samuel de Roman/REX Shutterstock
Power Couple: Lia Vollack and Derek McLane
He’s a Tony-winning set designer (“Beautiful”) who’s been the production designer for the past three Oscar ceremonies (winning an Emmy of the 2014 telecast) and for NBC’s live musicals (including the upcoming “The Wiz Live”). She’s a former live-theater sound designer who’s president of worldwide music for Sony Pictures (recent coup: lining up Sam Smith to record the theme for the latest James Bond pic, “Spectre”) as well as the studio’s executive vice president of theatrical (with a “Groundhog Day” tuner on the way). Between the two of them, McLane and Vollack are the poster couple for the increasing overlap of Hollywood and Broadway. In the past year the two of them also managed to get married.
Artistic director, Roundabout Theater Company
The Roundabout Theater Company, marking its 50th anniversary season this year, is the country’s largest nonprofit theater, and has become so under the longtime leadership of Haimes. In the past year, the theater saw starry stage turns by names including Emma Stone and Ewan McGregor, as well as a hit revival of largely forgotten musical “On the 20th Century” starring Kristin Chenoweth. Haimes also spent the year lining up the stellar roster for the theater’s golden anniversary, bringing Hollywood to Broadway with roles for Keira Knightley, Clive Owen and Jessica Lange.
Courtesy of Richard Termine
The director of “Far From Heaven” and “I’m Not There” is once again an awards season contender with his latest pic, “Carol,” a 1950s-set story of a lesbian romance starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara. The film has drawn nearly universal praise after making a splash at Cannes this year; it’s also getting a a big showcase at the New York Film Festival. And Haynes will also be saluted with the Director Tribute at this year’s Gotham Awards.
David Fisher/REX Shutterstock
Anchor, “NBC Nightly News”
Holt has been NBC’s anchor in more ways than one. He took on an unenviable job — filling in on “NBC Nightly News” while Brian Williams was suspended after acknowledging he embellished details about past reporting excursions — and then made it his own, wresting back a first-place ranking NBC had lost to ABC amidst the transfer. And he continues to host “Dateline” as well. His greatest achievement in recent months? “Taking stewardship of the most important broadcast in the country, and easing viewers and the staff through what was clearly a difficult period, and being able to move the broadcast past all that and putting that in the rear-view mirror,” he says. He intends to take “NBC Nightly News” on the road. “It’s important to get the broadcast to connect with people in America.”
Abbi Jacobson & Ilana Glazer
Stars, co-creators/“Broad City”
The creators and stars of “Broad City” are thoroughly enjoying the whirlwind they’ve been caught up in since the Brooklyn-set buddy comedy bowed on Comedy Central last year. The buzz and critical embrace of the show grew significantly in season two, which made it that much more real to the pair. Cementing their arrival as creatives to be reckoned with, Jacobson and Glazer are working on a feature for 20th Century Fox with red-hot comedy helmer Paul Feig. “The first season I think we were nervous that this was gonna go away very quickly, and now I think we can really build on it,” says Jacobson. Glazer assures: “Season three is gonna be so good.”
Courtesy of Matt Baron/BEI/REX Shutterstock
CEO, Bleecker Street
Bleecker Street got off to a strong start in 2015. Launched a year ago by Focus alum Karpen, the studio has made a series of shrewd bets, turning “I’ll See You in My Dreams” into a hit by appealing to older crowds, partnering with Netflix and Amazon to distribute “Beasts of No Nation” and “Elvis and Nixon,” plus “Trumbo.” And in Toronto it outbid competitors for the Helen Mirren thriller “Eye in the Sky.” “For us, it always starts with the films and the teams behind them.”
Andrew H Walker/REX Shutterstock
Anchor, Fox News Channel
Kelly’s star has has been on the rise since taking on primetime anchor duties at Fox News Channel in 2013. In August, her program, “The Kelly File,” averaged nearly 3 million viewers, consistently ranking as
the second most-watched program in cable news behind “The O’Reilly Factor.” She is slated to do a series of newsmaker specials in 2016. And her questioning of Donald Trump and other candidates during Fox News’ broadcast of the first GOP debate of the 2016 presidential election demonstrated her ability to lob tough questions, and to display grace under pressure when Trump lobbed some shots at her the following day.
Gregory Pace/BEI/REX Shutterstock
Samantha Kirby Yoh
Kirby Yoh loves nothing more than working with artists who want to spread their voices across mixed mediums. And there’s no better place to execute those arcs than New York City, in the view of this British expat who’s lived in Gotham since 1990. Kirby Yoh is the the rep for music heavyweights such as Florence + the Machine, Alicia Keys and Alesso and rising stars FKA Twigs, Grimes and Kiesza. “I am totally blessed to work with artists who are truly fierce and independent in their creativity and their voices,” Kirby Yoh says.
Courtesy of Samantha Kirby Yoh
President-CEO and founder,
As the leader of independent media buying agency Horizon Media, Koenigsberg has a unique view on the inner workings of Madison Avenue. In recent months, blue-chip advertisers including General Mills and Coca-Cola have put their ad-buying accounts up for review, and Koenigsberg believes it’s a chance for Horizon to shine. “The fact that close to $30 billion of business is up for review points directly to the fact that the old model is broken and marketers want and deserve a new model,” he says.
Courtesy of Bill Koenigsberg
Chairman, NBC News and MSNBC
All eyes are on Lack as he seeks to move NBC News forward after the chaos that ensued in the wake of the unit’s recent debacle involving Brian Williams. Lack, who ran NBC News for most of the 1990s and later served as COO under Bob Wright, took on the role of chairman of NBC News in April and also received oversight of MSNBC. After settling the Williams mess, Lack appears to have placed most of his emphasis on MSNBC. The cabler has been shuffling its daytime schedule, including the launch of an hourlong program hosted by Chuck Todd, and the reintroduction of Williams on MSNBC. With MSNBC suffering double-digit ratings drops, Lack has his work cut out for him.
Power Couple: Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys
She’s been America’s sweetheart since the “Felicity” days. He’s a handsome Welshman with the Richard Burton gene for charisma and charm. Russell and Rhys have scored knockout performances during the past three seasons as a pair of covert Soviet spies in a terribly complicated marriage on FX’s 1980s-set drama “The Americans.” After two years of playing a multitude of characters on the show, love blossomed when the wigs and costumes came off. Russell and Rhys are now often seen out and about in New York with Russell’s young children. And the pair are inseparable at industry events, which can only have FX execs thanking their lucky red stars.
Daniela Taplin Lundberg
Managing Partner, Red Crown Prods.
Taplin Lundberg has had a banner 2015 for Red Crown Prods., which she founded five years ago with Daniel Crown. Not only did Netflix pay $12 million for the company’s “Beasts of No Nation,” she debuted the SXSW darling “Hello, My Name Is Doris,” which sold to Roadside Attractions, is working on “The Joe and Jadin Bell Story” (which A24 will release) and a screen adaptation of “Choose Your Own Adventure.” “This has honestly been the most exciting and rewarding year of my career. I am so proud of the movies we have made and the people we have made them with,” Taplin Lundberg says.
Courtesy of Colleen Putman
President, advanced advertising products, Fox Networks Group
Marchese is on a mission to fix video advertising. His quest received a boost in December when 21st Century Fox acquired his company, TrueX, for about $200 million. Marchese’s solution to a world filled with DVRs, on-demand viewing and online ad blockers is this: Create ads that offer some value in exchange for a consumer’s time. Joining Fox lets him “continue the effort to kind of fix advertising for quality content from the inside,” Marchese says. “Conversations are happening at high levels.”
Courtesy of Joe Marchese
Chairman-CEO, Turner Broadcasting System
Since taking the helm of Turner in early 2014, Martin has drawn up blueprints for most of its businesses, notably TNT, TBS and Cartoon Network. Martin, the former CFO of parent company Time Warner, aims to shake up the status quo, even if that creates some short-term strains. “We are spending a lot of money and resources to make sure we are moving in the direction where our audience is going.”
Courtesy of John Martin
Not many Broadway musicals inspire backstage chitchat between Jon Stewart and Barack Obama. “Hamilton” did just that. The founding-father musical written by and starring Miranda has achieved the kind of widespread cultural currency that most stage titles can only dream of: The show’s spawned critical hosannas, in-depth thinkpieces and a mad rush of celebrities and theater cognoscenti scrabbling for tickets. The 2015-16 season on Broadway has barely begun, but it’s already the show to beat at the Tonys come June..
Carolyn Contino/BEI/REX Shutterstock
John Cameron Mitchell
Actor, writer, director
The East German transgender wannabe rocker Hedwig may already have made a splashy comeback with the opening of the 2014 Tony-winning revival of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” but for a lot of fans, Hedwig wasn’t really back until writer-performer-director Mitchell stepped into the gold-platform boots of the character that made him a cult hero. He won a special Tony Award for his performance in April. His film “How to Talk to Girls at Parties” was snapped up by A24 at the recent Toronto fest.
Gregory Pace/BEI/REX Shutterstock
Moore is following up her first Oscar win (after four nominations) earlier this year for “Still Alice” with not one but two films generating kudos buzz: “Freeheld” and “Maggie’s Plan.” “At any stage in your career it’s a challenge to find a great role,” Moore says. “Hollywood is not in the business of finding great roles for actors. That said, the last few years for me, knock on wood, have been amazing.” Next up for Moore: “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2.”
Jonathan Hordle/REX Shutterstock
Founder/president, AM Only
Paul Morris fairly owns the business of booking the DJs that drive the EDM business. The once-esoteric sector of the music biz is growing by leaps and bounds — so much so that Forbes recently came out with a list of the world’s 12 highest-paid DJs, four of whom are repped by Morris’ Paradigm-affiliated agency. And that isn’t the only sign of mainstream success of clients such as David Guetta, Tiesto, Skrillex and Zed. “In the last year or so you’re hearing (DJ) remixes on the radio that are bringing more attention to songs than when they were first released,” he says.
Courtesy of Paul Morris
Anchor, ABC’s “World News Tonight”
David Muir has had a whirlwind year since taking over as anchor of ABC’s “World News Tonight” on Sept. 1, 2014. Over a recent 10-day span, he gained exclusive access to Pope Francis, had a headline-generating interview with Hillary Clinton and reported from the border of Hungary and Serbia on the massive refugee crisis taking place there. Some of that go-get-it attitude has spurred “World News” to new heights: surpassing NBC’s “Nightly News” in total viewers for the first time in over 5 years.”To be part of one of the most competitive races among evening news programs in years means viewers are paying attention, and we are grateful for that,” says Muir.
Matt Baron/BEI/REX Shutterstock
CEO, 21st Century Fox
Only another Murdoch could take over the chief executive title at Fox from Rupert Murdoch, and it turned out that James was that Murdoch. The youngest of Rupert’s adult children, James took the operating reins from his father in July, when his brother, Lachlan, was named co-chair alongside their father. Now the industry is waiting to see what Murdoch Leadership 2.0 brings for the media conglom that has always been one step ahead of the pack.
James L. Nederlander
Chairman, Nederlander Organization
It’s been a damn good year for the nine Broadway theaters owned by the Nederlander Organization. Their theaters house new, big-selling additions to the street: “Hamilton,” “An American in Paris” and “Finding Neverland,” which complement their longrunners, “The Lion King” and “Wicked,” plus, last season, Bradley Cooper in “The Elephant Man” broke records. Over the summer, the Nederlander production of Gloria and Emilio Estefan musical “On Your Feet!,” 20 years in the making, earned good reviews in Chicago.
Courtesy of James Nederlander
CEO, The Orchard
Navin calls the Orchard’s aggressive move into the film business a “natural evolution.” Since its 1997 inception, the company has mostly handled music distribution, but that all changed this year when the distrib made a big splash on the festival circuit. Orchard acquired higher-profile indies, including buzzy Sundance pics “The Overnight” and “Cartel Land,” the SXSW drama “Lamb” and the Jesse Eisenberg-starrer “Louder Than Bombs.” “We are going with the films that resonate,” Navin says. “We want to be hands-on and give creators the transparency they want and need.”
Courtesy of Brad Navin
President, Conde Nast Entertainment
Ostroff joined the magazine publisher in 2011 to jump-start its online video business. Now, the former TV exec is getting back to longer-form roots: Conde Nast Entertainment has five television series and two feature films currently in production, and she sees that pool growing. Says Ostroff, “We have to be flexible as technology and audience habits evolve.”
Courtesy of Dawn Ostroff
HBO took a great leap forward for the TV industry by launching HBO Now in April as a stand-alone broadband offering. The move came after Plepler immersed himself in research and came away with the understanding that the future of content is giving consumers is as much choice as possible. But in Plepler’s view, HBO’s bigger success has been on the programming front, where it has never been more dynamic or diverse, from noisy docs like “The Jinx” and “Going Clear” to the genius of John Oliver to the spectacle of “Game of Thrones.” “We’re continuing to evolve our creative voice in ways that elevates our brand power,” he says.
Courtesy of HBO
While no one was looking, longtime New York stage actress and “American Horror Story” trouper Rabe became one of the industry’s foremost Shakespearean performers. “It’s the most beautiful and consistent thing in my career,” she says. Her TV work has accelerated with a starring role ABC’s “The Whispers” and HBO’s Bernie Madoff movie.
Courtesy of Rob Latour/REX Shutterstock
President, CBS News
One of Rhodes’ biggest successes is CBSN, a streaming-video feed of constantly updated news that can be viewed by anyone with a broadband connection. It lends the CBS unit the ability of a 24/7 “always on” cable network. “We’ve seen pretty compelling traffic figures for streaming news,” Rhodes says.
Courtesy of CBS
President, Kaufman Astoria Studios
Since it opened its doors in the early ’80s, Kaufman Astoria Studios has slowly been expanding. Today the movie studio boasts over 500,000 square-feet of sound stages, production office and service space. In 2013, KAS opened the only outdoor stage facility in New York. Last year a $20 million, 20,000 square-feet soundstage, called Stage N, was announced. “The market is there for it and we are consistently busy,” he says.
Courtesy of Hal Rosenbluth
President of investment, MediaVest
Shapiro got a hero’s welcome after being named president of investment for the MediaVest media-buying agency in January. During NBC’s upfront presentation in May, she was singled out by Neil Patrick Harris at Radio City Music Hall. NBC rolled video showing she had been pranked by the Peacock’s ad sales team. NBC and others have reason to pay tribute: Shapiro rules the spending decisions of Procter & Gamble, Walmart and Honda. She is prodding clients to use data to inform ad purchases. “Everybody has been forced to get out of their comfort zone,” Shapiro says.
Courtesy of melissa shapiro
Sher was already Broadway’s
go-to guy for classy revivals, following the long run of his production of “South Pacific”
and well-received stagings of Clifford Odets plays “Awake and Sing” and “Golden Boy.” This year he managed to turn the famously problematic “The King and I” into another “South Pacific”-sized hit for Lincoln Center Theater, and followed up that Tony-winning production by opening the season at the Metropolitan Opera with “Otello.” Next up is “Fiddler on the Roof,” opening in December.
Dan Wooller/REX Shutterstock
Principal, Cinetic Media/Partner, Sloss Exhouse Law Co.
Cinetic Media chief Sloss
wears many hats. Producer, manager, lawyer and confidant
to filmmakers such as Richard Linklater and Justin Lin. And
he’s developed an image as one of the indie world’s most tenacious sales agents. He’s also been banging the drum to get studios to be transparent about the revenue they’re generating from VOD platforms. “Everybody benefits from having more information,” he says.
Courtesy of John Sloss
Group CEO, WPP
Sorrell has long been a force to reckon with in media and advertising circles. He runs WPP, the British advertising conglomerate, which plays a strong hand in determining where and how billions of advertising dollars are spent. Recent investments WPP has made in data and content could make the company even more influential in months to come.
Tom Campbell/REX Shutterstock
Jeanine Tesori & Lisa Kron
Composer & writer-lyricist, “Fun Home”
The 2015 Tony Awards champ, “Fun Home,” made composer Tesori and book writer-lyricist Kron the first ever all-female team to win the Tony for original score. But the five-award triumph of “Fun Home,” a small-scale musical about a gay woman coming to terms with the death of her father, is also considered by many to be a win for New York’s theater industry overall: proof that shows of all sizes and subject matters can have a place on Broadway.
Courtesy of JEANINE TESORI & LISA KRON
Amid the Internet’s blooming geyser of free video content (think YouTube), Trainor is making Vimeo stand out by focusing on exclusive stuff that people are actually paying for. The IAC-owned site now stocks nearly 30,000 on-demand titles for sale — including its first original series, “High Maintenance”— and in 2015 has topped 1 million customers. A fresh slate of originals is on tap for this fall, he says, “all direct from creators with zero interruptive advertising.”
Courtesy of Kerry Trainor
Co-creator, exec producer/“The Affair”
Treem divides her time between the East and West coasts, but she’s steeped in Gotham and environs when it comes to her day job as showrunner of “The Affair.” She honed her chops on the stage, fielding well received plays, including “A Feminine Ending” and “The How and the Why.” Last year, during the build-up to the launch of the “Affair,” Treem burned the candle at both ends when the play “When We Were Young and Unafraid,” toplined by Cherry Jones and directed by Treem, opened at the Manhattan Theater Club.
Courtesy of Sarah Treem
Christine Vachon & Pamela Koffler
Executive Director, IFP
Vicente’s focus is squarely on filmmakers. As topper of the Independent Filmmaker Project, she’s in charge of Independent Film Week, the Gotham Awards and in 2013 she co-founded the Made in NY Media Center, which provides classes, workshops and work spaces. “Since we opened, we have supported 200 start-ups,” Vicente says.
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Co-head of alternative TV, CAA
Wattenberg has been humming a happy tune this year as “Lip Sync Battle” took off as a hit for Spike TV and Neil Patrick Harris stepped into the ringmaster role on NBC’s ambitious live variety show “Best Time Ever.” Both CAA-packaged shows are good examples of the firepower that Wattenberg’s group brings to the marketplace that is increasingly crowded. “We have to bring more ammunition than ever to the table when we’re selling a show,” he says.
Courtesy of Eric Wattenberg
Host, executive producer/“The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore”
Wilmore settled in easily to his new role at Comedy Central’s “The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore” after taking over the post-“Daily Show” time period from Stephen Colbert in January. The veteran showrunner and comedian has shown a deft touch in tackling incendiary issues with humor and smarts. And Wilmore’s show has set itself apart with a roundtable discussion that allows for even more perspectives to be shared on the day’s headlines.
Courtesy of Peter Yang
Winter has been a pillar of New York’s creative community since his days on “The Sopranos.” He stayed close to home with five seasons of HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire,” set in Atlantic City, N.J., and then segued this year to “Vinyl,” another partnership with Martin Scorsese, this time set in the late 1970s rock ’n’ roll scene. One day he may write a show that is set somewhere other than the tri-state area, but for now this native son of NYC is happy as can be. “I love being able to work in this business in New York City,” Winter says. “There’s nothing else like it.”
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CEO, Omnicom Group
Wren took the reins of the Omnicom advertising conglom at after its merger with Publicis Groupe of France was nixed last year. Since then, Wren has steered the company deeper into new disciplines as advertisers seek to take advantage of the targeting offered by digital media. Omnicom agencies in recent months notched new assignments from Wells Fargo, Bacardi and S.C. Johnson.
Courtesy of John Wren
The Gotham 60