Casey Patterson has a lot to celebrate this holiday season.
In just six months since launching her self-titled production company Casey Patterson Entertainment, the longtime ex-Viacom executive has put a network on the map, an Oscar winner on a wrecking ball and tonight, will put two “Empire” superstars on stage to host their very own variety show.
Far ahead of producing “Terrence and Taraji’s White Hot Holidays,” which airs tonight at 9:00 p.m. on Fox, Casey Patterson Entertainment found its sweet spot in talent-driven, live, eventized content. With 20 years of programming experience and relationship-building — and a bit of luck and good timing — Patterson was an original exec on Spike’s “Lip Sync Battle,” which broke into the social media and pop culture stratosphere, just as her shingle was about to launch.
“Sometimes you do need a little bit of magic, and that’s what happened with ‘Lip Sync Battle,'” Patterson tells Variety. “I love comedy, and I love live and I love variety, so ‘Lip Sync Battle’ was just the perfect storm, and it launched the company in a really nice way right in our wheelhouse with a celebrity talent-driven, shareable, viral, new world format.”
“Lip Sync Battle’s” Christmas special, which featured “The Night Before” co-stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen and Anthony Mackie, was a digital milestone, trending and bringing in the top online traffic numbers among all cable and streaming programs around the time of its original airing. To date, the performance clip has nearly seven million views just on YouTube.
However — given that its Hannukah — “Lip Sync Battle,” which enters its second season in January, is say, just night No. 1’s gift for Casey Patterson Ent., during this time of year. The multi-platform company also recently debuted Bill Murray’s Christmas special on Netflix, which not only garnered critical acclaim, but a SAG nomination this morning. And then, of course, there’s tonight’s holiday variety show, filling Fox’s blockbuster “Empire” timeslot.
“It’s a traditional format, but incredibly modern because of the voices that are on it and because of Terrence and Taraji’s relationship,” Patterson says of the hourlong song-and-dance special, which welcomes Mary J. Blige, John Legend, Jamie Foxx, “Empire” cast members, and is directed by “SNL” alum Beth McCarthy-Miller, who has partnered up with Patterson in the past to direct “Lip Sync Battle” and more. With a laugh, Patterson says, “I don’t know how this happened. We have three holiday specials happening right now. I am absolutely obsessed with this season.”
Aside from the impressive volume of programming for the fresh company, the banner is spread across all sorts of venues with tonight’s Fox special checking off the big broadcast zone; “A Very Murray Christmas” taking care of the streaming platform; and in addition to “Lip Sync,” the cable arena is jam-packed with truTV’s current unscripted series “Super Into,” which showcases celebrities’ obsessions and has featured the likes of Kesha, Michelle Rodriguez and Margaret Cho; and Dwayne Johnson’s upcoming Spike variety show “Rock the Troops,” a new take on entertaining U.S. troops, which will bow next Veteran’s Day.
“What’s exciting to me about all of that is just the incredible partners and the talent involved in all of these things is just fantastic,” Patterson says. “From a new business point of view, being a diversified company rooted in music, comedy, variety and celebrity-driven programming, it’s wonderful not only to have those partners in great A-list talent, but also multi-platforms.”
Some of those partners include “Lip Sync Battle” exec producers Jimmy Fallon, John Krasinski, Stephen Merchant, hosts LL Cool J and Chrissy Teigen, Mark Burnett with whom she’s developing a project, Brett Ratner with whom she’s developing a doc and, of course, all of “Lip Sync’s” famous participants, whose involvement she attributes to her background of working in talent for two decades.
Patterson explains that the performance show is fun for talent who wants to “inherently play and entertain,” plus serves as a modern-day platform to reach their fans, which is why the show — and all of Casey Patterson Entertainment’s talent-filled content — works: because it’s naturally buzzy and travels well.
“The live landscape has never been more exciting. It’s the only thing left where people tune into real-time, and you must have 360-degree engagement with you fans,” Patterson, whose shingle also produces the annual “Guys’ Choice Awards” says. “There are more distribution platforms than ever before to create content for, and certainly, celebrity content plays across all of them. It’s so shareable and it really reaches scale out there in the world.”
With a slew of projects on the development deck and much already on-air, Patterson is looking forward to a successful new year.
“We’re rooted in the celebrity talent, comedy, variety live space, but it translates to so many different distribution platforms and genres. It translates to concert events and festivals and award shows and theatrical. It couldn’t be a better time to launch a business like this,” she says.