New York-based Hearst Magazines has established an L.A. outpost for video production — where Clevver, its recently acquired network of entertainment news YouTube channels, will be gearing up for a relaunch within the next few weeks.
The publishing group opened a new, 20,000-square-foot multimedia production studio in Santa Monica, Calif., which will serve as a hub for its magazine brands’ original productions and Clevver, which was left stranded after former parent company Defy Media shut down last fall.
Clevver’s YouTube channels have largely been dormant since early November, when its employees were let go with Defy’s shuttering. The Clevver team that Hearst Magazines has rehired will resume producing videos within the next two weeks, according to a company rep. Those staffers include Jill Irvin Burriss, senior creative director of Clevver Style; the Hearst rep declined to identify which Clevver hosts are on board. (Pictured above: The set of Clevver News’ “Daily Hollywood Rundown” in the new Santa Monica facility.)
The studio space, located at the Santa Monica Airport, will build on Hearst Magazines’ original entertainment projects. Those have included TV series like “Ready, Set, Pet” for the CW Network, and digital series including “This Is How I Made It,” “The Braid Up,” “Song Association” and “Go to Bed With Me.” The company also will use the studio for photo shoots and video productions across Hearst Magazines’ portfolio of titles including Cosmopolitan, Elle, Esquire and Harper’s Bazaar.
“A robust presence on the West Coast is a natural next step for us as we continue to expand our creative capabilities and deepen our talent pool,” Hearst Magazines president Troy Young said in a statement. “Video has been a consistent growth driver for us and this studio will further enhance the quality and quantity of our entertainment offerings.”
Michael Mraz, VP of Hearst originals and development, is heading the new studio. He’ll remain based in New York and split his time between NYC and in Los Angeles. He joined the company in 2014 and previously led digital content teams for Esquire, Esquire U.K., Road & Track, Car and Driver, Popular Mechanics and Town & Country before joining development team in 2016.
“The new studio — and having the Clevver teams based there — will be a game-changer for us,” Mraz said. “It will enable us to be more ambitious with our development slate for Hearst Originals, learn from some of the very best of YouTube natives, and find new ways to cross pollinate ideas, talent, and brands between New York and L.A.”
Hearst Magazines, a unit of Hearst, claims its print and digital properties reach a combined audience of 146 million readers and visitors monthly, including 73% of U.S. women. The company publishes more than 300 editions and 240 websites around the world, with more than 25 brands in the U.S.