Fox Networks Group is back in business with Gail Berman — they’re partnering to launch a new production company called The Jackal Group. Berman, a former Fox Broadcasting president, will develop and produce scripted, unscripted and factual entertainment programming for FNG’s channels, including Fox Broadcasting Company, FX/FXX, the National Geographic Channels, and Fox International Channels.
The partnership also will look for digital and feature film opportunities for non-21st Century Fox distribution entities. Additionally, Jackal Group will draw on Berman’s background in theater in creating and developing concepts for live, theatrical entertainment. Berman will have an equity stake in the independent venture, and will serve as Chairman and CEO; she will report to the new entity’s board, on which she will serve as a director, alongside FNG chairman and CEO Peter Rice, who made today’s announcement, and FNG president and COO Randy Freer. Read More »
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.” Read More »
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: Read More »
If you look at the Moviefone’s amateurish looking site, which AOL bought for $400M in 1999, you’ll see why it needs work. The company says today that it has enlisted BermanBraun “to reimagine Moviefone and give the iconic entertainment brand a new design and enhanced user experience.” Early next year the site will have “a fresh look and a more robust offering of entertainment news and content as well as a state of the art utility for consumers to find and watch premium content on all devices.” Susan Lyne, who’s CEO of the AOL Brand Group, worked with BermanBraun principal Lloyd Braun at ABC where they developed shows including Lost, Desperate Housewives, and Grey’s Anatomy. The Hollywood-based media company has helped AOL shape sites including Mandatory, Pawnation, and Skye. With that background “we are excited to partner with them to ensure Moviefone becomes a premiere, multiscreen destination for movie news and information,” Lyne says. Braun and his partner, Gail Berman, say they will “reimagine Moviefone as a vital and essential entertainment brand for the mobile generation.”
EXCLUSIVE: 20th Century Fox has acquired rights to the supernatural British comedy show Rentaghost, and has re-teamed Ben Stiller with his Night At The Museum writers Tom Lennon and Robert Ben Garant. The film will be produced by Gail Berman and Lloyd Braun through BermanBraun and Kevin McCormick through Langley Park. Patrick Pidgeon is producer and Andrew Mittman is co-producer. The comedy will be based on the British TV kid series that ran on BBC1 from 1976-84. The project was once in negotiations to land at Warner Bros with Berman and McCormick as a vehicle for Russell Brand, but he withdrew after Arthur didn’t open strongly, and the studio never closed the deal. If Stiller, Lennon and Garant can replicate anything close to Night at the Museum, this could be another strong family franchise for Fox, where Stiller’s Red Hour is based.
The original show involved a supernatural firm called Rentaghost, which rented out spirits for a variety of tasks. In the take that Lennon and Garant will write, the idea is for Stiller to play an American turnaround consultant who is sent to the UK to reinvigorate a failing company. Stiller’s got a lot going on. The Brett Ratner-directed Tower Heist will be released next month, he’s shooting the Akiva Schaffer-directed Fox comedy Neighborhood Watch with Vince Vaughn and Jonah Hill, and continues to work with Fox on The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty, which he hopes to direct … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Gail Berman and Lloyd Braun’s production company BermanBraun has signed with WME for representation. At the agency, the company’s entertainment division will be handled by co-CEO Ari Emanuel and head of the TV department Rick Rosen. The move formalizes BermanBraun’s existing relationship with WME as Berman and Braun are long-time very close friends with Emanuel and Rosen, and the agency has been unofficially handing the production company in its deals. (BermanBraun hasn’t had official agency representation until now.) On the TV side, BermanBraun, which has had a first-look TV deal with NBC Universal, has the series Alphas on Syfy. It produced two pilots this past season, drama Weekends at Bellevue at Fox and the Dan Goor comedy at NBC. On the film side, BermanBraun has several projects in development, including comedies Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, based on the book, and Rentaghost, which has Russell Brand attached to star. Additionally, the company has a strong digital division that is behind several celebrity/lifestyle sites with MSN, including Wonderwall and GLO.
EXCLUSIVE: Summit Entertainment has hired Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan to adapt and direct Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, based on the 1992 John Gray book that highlights the vast differences between men and women, and attempts to bridge the differences. Elfont and Kaplan will turn the title into a romantic comedy, with BermanBraun’s Lloyd Braun and Gail Berman producing.
Gray, whose book has sold over 50 million copies in 45 countries, details the vast gender differences and make suggestions on how to find common ground. Despite that apparent gulf between the sexes, Elfont and Kaplan have done pretty well. They have been creatively collaborating since they met at NYU. They most recently scripted the Amy Adams-Matthew Goode romantic comedy Leap Year, the Patrick Dempsey romantic comedy Made of Honor, and the Ben Affleck-James Gandolfini comedy Surviving Christmas. They’ve directed Can’t Hardly Wait, and Josie and the Pussycats. They are both repped by CAA and Benderspink.
With their digital portfolio growing, Gail Berman and Lloyd Braun’s BermanBraun is launching a digital video division and has tapped BBC Worldwide Prods. executive Ian Moffitt to run it. Moffitt, who starts on January 3, will assemble a full-fledged video team and will oversee the production of video content for BermanBraun’s current and future digital brands. That includes the company’s first collaboration with MSN, the celebrity-driven Wonderwall, which was joined by three more sites rolled out this year, lifestyle-focused GLO, Wonderwall spinoff, Wonderwall Latino, and BLTWY, about the celebrity side of politics. BermanBraun is expected to launch another 4-5 new sites next year. “We’re going to have to ramp up video production dramatically,” Lloyd said. “There is an insatiable appetite for video online.” To accommodate its expanding video needs, BermanBraun is building a state-of-the-art video production facility in Santa Monica, close to the company’s offices there. Brit Moffitt was tapped to head the new division because of his mix of digital and TV background. As SVP of programming and content strategy at BBC Worldwide Prods., Moffitt oversaw business development and the company’s digital strategy. Before that, he worked at Transend, an international rights joint venture Endeavor started with IMG, and served as head of programming for U.K. independent distributor Target Entertainment. Wonderwall averages some 11.5 million unique visitors and 350 million page views a month, while GLO, which launched in April, logs 5 million uniques and 130 million … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros has acquired the rights to the British comedy show RentaGhost and will develop it into a Beetlejuice-style afterlife feature comedy vehicle for Russell Brand. He’ll play Fred Mumford, a recently deceased guy determined to be more productive as a corpse than he was during his life as a slacker. He attempts to set himself up in a business with a couple of other ghouls, starting a temp agency for the dead. Mumford and cohorts rent out ghouls and ghosts to the living, until things go awry. The original series, created by Bob Block, ran on BBC1 from 1976-1984. Langley Park’s Kevin McCormick will produce with BermanBraun’s Gail Berman and Lloyd Braun. Brand will be executive producer. They’re going right out to writers. BB’s Andrew Mittman brought in the project.