In light of the recent exit of co-founder Gail Berman, BermanBraun has been renamed Whalerock Industries, a name said to have special meaning to co-founder and now full owner Lloyd Braun. The company also has folded scripted television, which had been overseen by Gene Stein, into film, with Andrew Mittman, who has run BermanBraun’s film division since 2009, as head of the combined unit. Stein, who has been at BermanBraun since 2008, is leaving. Meanwhile, Jenna Glazier has been promoted to SVP of television and film. “This reorganization reflects our approach to development throughout the company,” Braun said. “The traditional lines between media are increasingly blurred – particularly in film and television. Our executives will work the same way – evaluating material, developing relationships and understanding business models across the media landscape.”
Gail Berman just made the announcement amid ongoing speculation that the former top Fox and Paramount executive might be mulling a return to the executive fold. In her statement, Berman indicates that she is considering “several unique opportunities” with an announcement about her next gig expected “very soon.” (Despite persistent chatter, I hear Berman’s immediate plans do not seem to include a position at ABC.) Berman co-founded BermanBraun in 2007 with former ABC topper Lloyd Braun who will now become sole owner of the company by acquiring Berman’s interest. BermanBraun, which employs 150 people vs. four employees at its launch, made its mark in the digital arena where it operates 11 properties in categories including celebrity, entertainment, fashion and beauty, pets, Moms and lifestyle. BermanBraun also has been active in TV, producing scripted and unscripted series and has in the works Dig, USA Network’s upcoming six-episode action adventure event series from Tim Kring and Gideon Raff. In June, BermanBraun inked a multi-year film and TV deal with MGM. Before taking over Fox’s entertainment division, Berman ran Regency TV. Here are her and Braun’s statements on Berman’s departure:
UPDATED: Gail Berman and Lloyd Braun’s TV/digital/film production company has set up shop at MGM for television and film. BermanBraun, which just came out of a five-year stint at NBCUniversal, has signed an exclusive multiyear production deal with MGM Television to create and develop scripted and unscripted programming for broadcast and cable. The agreement, the first such production pact for MGM Television, which has been in a rapid expansion mode, came together pretty quickly only two weeks after BermanBraun’s most recent deal at NBCU expired. “It was a real meeting of minds,“ said Roma Khanna, President, Television Group & Digital, MGM Television.”The idea of this deal is to say that our appetite is large for quality productions, that we want to work with the best talent and are smart about the TV projects we put together.”
Berman and Braun took several meetings but ultimately opted to go with upstart MGM vs. a traditional TV studio because of their plan to aggressively build their TV operation. “We’re exited to be part of their expansion, it gives us an unique opportunity to spread our wings,” Berman said.
BermanBraun and MGM TV both have experimented with not-traditional production models, something BermanBraun is employing in their summer NBC series Camp, which was done as a straight-to-series, lower license fee show. MGM TV is behind History’s Vikings, which went straight to series and is made as an international co-production, as well as FX’s straight-to-series limited series Fargo. Khanna noted that MGM “got lucky” to land the two straight-to-series orders but is staying “flexible”, pursuing both non-traditional and traditional pilot development and willing to deficit finance/co-finance its projects. MGM’s focus remain on cable dramas, though Khanna hopes to expand into unscripted series via BermanBraun’s expertise in the arena. Meanwhile, BermanBraun had serviced NBCU’s cable networks, including producing Syfy’s Alphas, though its primary focus for the past five years has been on broadcast, supplying NBC. The deal with MGM “really allows to get (the cable drama) part of our business jump-started, so our interests aligned beautifully in that,” Berman said,. In addition to Khanna, BermanBraun will work with Steve Stark, President, TV Production, MGM Television. On the BermanBraun side, Gene Stein, President of Television, will be leading their team in the new venture.
MGM has also signed BermanBraun to a first-look deal on all theatrical projects they are developing and will work directly with Jonathan Glickman, President, Motion Picture Group, MGM. The theatrical executive from BermanBraun is Andrew Mittman, Head of Feature Film Development.
Gunnar Wetterberg, who as head of development at Magical Elves spearheaded such formats as Top Chef on Bravo and Treasure Hunters on NBC, has been appointed Senior Unscripted Television Executive at BermanBraun. He most recently was SVP Development at T Group Prods and has sold shows to both broadcast and cable networks over his career. He also developed Sony Pictures Television’s game show franchise Russian Roulette, which has been produced in more than 30 countries. “He has proven himself to be a true innovator in the world of television and we look forward to working with him on expanding our unscripted business”, BermanBraun television president Gene Stein said in announcing the deal.
Ahead of the debut of NBC‘s midseason drama Deception tomorrow, the network has given a straight-to-series order to another hourlong project from the Deception team of creator/executive producer Liz Heldens and Gail Berman and Lloyd Braun’s production company BermanBraun. Created by Heldens and Deception co-executive producer Peter Elkoff, Camp has been picked up for 13 episodes to air in the summer. This will be Heldens and BermanBraun’s third series on NBC following medical drama Mercy, which Heldens also created, and Deception. Elkoff also worked with Heldens on Mercy.
In the tradition of Meatballs and Dazed And Confused, Little Hawk Family Camp is a wicked slice of lake-side heaven. In the one-hour dramedy, parents decompress with gin while teenagers make gleeful mischief and fall in and out of love. “In our desire to make summer an exciting place at NBC along with our signature unscripted shows like America’s Got Talent, The Voice and American Ninja Warrior, we developed a scripted dramedy we love with BermanBraun that has rich and dysfunctional characters in that great setting where millions of families and young people go each summer: camp,” said NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke. “Most of us have had great experiences at camp, and this show — created by two of our favorite producers, Liz Heldens and Peter Elkoff — is sophisticated, funny, and emotional, and we think it will be the ideal summer series for us.” Camp will be produced by Matchbox Pictures (The Slap) and BermanBraun. Heldens and Elkoff executive produce with Berman, Braun and Gene Stein. Production is scheduled to begin in Australia in March.
Chris Cowan, a former principal of Rocket Science Laboratories and Angel City Factory, has joined BermanBraun as head of unscripted television. He also will oversee all video development and production in the company’s digital unit, including the …
Santa Monica, CA (March 15, 2012) … BermanBraun has closed a deal to acquire Whiskey Media, it was announced today by Gail Berman and Lloyd Braun of BermanBraun and Shelby Bonnie, Whiskey Media creator and CEO.
As part of this acquisition, BermanBraun will get three key sites of San Francisco-based Whiskey Media and acquire its content publishing platform. The three sites include the video entertainment-focused Screened, tech testing site Tested and Anime Vice, which covers anime and manga comics. The new Tested will become the Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage site and will go live later today (Hyneman and Savage are in a producing partnership with BermanBraun).
Universal TV has rounded out its development team with the hire of Andy Weil as VP Comedy Development. Universal TV EVP Bela Bajaria last month appointed Russell Rothberg as SVP drama/department head, Tracey Pakosta as SVP comedy/department head and …
Jean Smart is set to star in NBC’s untitled Dan Goor pilot. The multicamera comedy, from BermanBraun, UMS and writer-exec producer Dan Goor, centers on Adam Foote, a young doctor who joins his parents’ medical practice and spends as much time tending to his family as to his patients. Smart will play Adam’s doting, meddlesome mom, Dr. Barbara Foote. Emmy winner Smart recurs on two CBS series this season, drama Hawaii Five-0 and comedy $#*! My Dad Says.
Gabrielle Union is set to co-star opposite Rob Corddry, Paula Marshall and Kevin Hart in Rob Thomas’ single-camera comedy pilot for Fox Little in Common. The WBTV-produced pilot is about three families united through their kids’ little league sports. It centers on the Wellers (Corddry, Marshall), who move from San Jose, CA to Austin, TX, but find that their adjustment won’t be quite that easy considering that their Latino neighbors, the Pachecos, have a radically different approach to child-rearing than they do, while their other new neighborhood acquaintances, the African American Burlesons (Hart, Union), take sports very seriously. Union’s Nicole Burleson is a lobbyist on the fast track to success who is every bit as competitive and intense as her husband.