Greg Silverman’s Stampede Ventures and United Talent Agency have formed HappyNest, a production company for animated kids and family content.
HappyNest will act as an ideas incubator and assist in financing, production and sales for multiple categories including filmed content, books, games, toys and digital media. The venture also pledged to help creatives maintain creative and financial control of their intellectual property.
UTA is the only major agency with a dedicated animation division representing top artists and rising stars. Its participation in HappyNest is compliant with the spirt of the new WGA franchise agreement, insiders familiar with the deal said. Others noted that the kids and family space is not governed by the WGA, which forced the agencies to divest as much as 80% ownership in content ventures this year, but rather by the Animation Guild (IATSE Local 839).
Both parties are funding the joint venture, with former Warner Bros. Pictures worldwide production head Silverman and Chris Bosco overseeing for Stampede. UTA Partner Gregory McKnight and motion picture literary agent Anna Berthold-Zuk are overseeing for the agency.
Sadaf Cohen Muncy has been named head of development and production at HappyNest. She comes from MGA Entertainment, where she built the entertainment division from the ground up with live action, animated and stop-motion content based on MGA brands like L.O.L. Surprise!, Rainbow High and Bratz.
“As an incubator, we want artists to entrust us with their IP as we guide and grow their ideas, while allowing them the unconventional ability to maintain creative control and benefit from the financial upside of their brainchild,” said Muncy. “Spearheading HappyNest is a dream come true and I look forward to making it the go-to destination for creative geniuses who have been yearning for something new.”
The HappyNest deal was negotiated by UTA and Bosco. Outside counsel for UTA was led by David Eisman at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and Affiliates. Kenneth Deutsch and David Zaheer at Latham & Watkins LLP advised Stampede Ventures.
“The concept for HappyNest came together out of an incredible partnership with UTA,” added Silverman. “At Stampede, our mission has always been to connect us all through our favorite stories. To know that, through HappyNest, we will launch content aimed at inspiring and fostering the next generation of stories that connect us, is super gratifying.”