This year’s Variety New Leaders event, presented by City National Bank, honored innovative visionaries in entertainment. The cocktail party was hosted on a chilly Thursday night in Lower Manhattan’s Jimmy Rooftop Bar at the James Hotel.
Patrick McCarthy, senior VP and head of marketing for City National Bank, kicked off the event highlighting the new leaders in the room who are succeeding in an entertainment climate that is evolving and “rapidly facing an increasingly complex landscape.”
“The next generation of the industry is facing a whole new world from that of previous generations, and we are excited to watch this new group of leaders take it on,” said McCarthy.
Cynthia Littleton, business editor for Variety, presented the Creative Leadership Award to Lilly Burns, John Skidmore and Brooke Posch of Jax Media on behalf of the production company. In her speech, Littleton reminisced on cold-calling Jax executive Tony Hernandez, who was also one of the recipients of the award but was out of town on a shoot, because she was curious about the production company that was behind some of her recently watched shows like “Broad City,” “Inside Amy Schumer” and “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.” Jax is also responsible for “Russian Doll,” “Desus & Mero,” and “Younger.” She introduced Lilly Burns to the podium to accept the award.
“‘Russian Doll’ recently lost out to Fleabag at the Emmys, so we really needed this [award],” Burns quipped. “I think Jax’s mentorship takes the shape of protecting and supporting our writers and showrunners. We sort of have a unique production model that’s forged in indie filmmaking where scripts are finished before prep starts and episodes are cross boarded and everything that we do sort of exists to keep the creative vision of the creator intact.”
Burns continued to say that Jax supports their “young, talented employees,” and that helps yield great results.
“I think most of us would never sit back and consider themselves a mentor, but I think if you’re ever in the position to hire somebody that wouldn’t normally get hired or hire somebody with less experience or somebody that you sort of have to vouch for, then you should absolutely do it and you are a mentor and I think it makes a big impact and it yields really, really good content,” she said.
The event honored other New Leaders in entertainment, outlined in the Nov. 12 issue of Variety, and professionals were invited to take photos and answer questions about defining moments in their careers and trends in the entertainment industry, like the plethora of online streamers that have hit in recent years.
Among the attendees were Amber Ruffin, writer on “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” who met up with actor Tituss Burgess (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”) for a hug and a chat. Matt Kramer, TV agent at CAA, Alexandra Machinist, partner and literary agent of ICM, Steven Baker, executive producer of “Nightline”, Diana Miller, executive producer of “CBS This Morning,” and more.
Guests were invited to have a glass of wine or cocktail along with hors d’oeuvres such as beef sliders and tuna tartare as they mingled with executives, creatives and other new leader honorees.
The full list of New Leaders featured in the issue of Variety included Ronan Farrow, Hasan Minhaj, Bowen Yang and Elaine Welteroth, among other innovators.