Jonathan Koa VRP

Jonathan Koa is SVP of Scripted Programming at Condé Nast Entertainment. He has previously worked with ABC as well as NBCUniversal Television Studios.
In the Media: 

Conde Nast Entertainment Hires ABC’s Jonathan Koa to Head Scripted Programming  |  Variety  |  November 12, 2015
Condé Nast Entertainment’s hiring spree continues, with the publishing house’s video division announcing the appointment of Jonathan Koa as senior VP of scripted programming.

Koa, who starts at CNÉ Nov. 16, previously was executive director of comedy at ABC, where he oversaw production and development of the Alphabet’s comedy series. Prior to ABC, Koa worked at NBCUniversal Television Studios, where he developed projects for numerous broadcast and cable networks including Fox’s “House,” USA Network’s “Monk” and NBC’s “Parenthood.”

In his new role at Conde Nast Entertainment, Koa will be responsible for developing and producing scripted television projects. He reports to CNÉ president Dawn Ostroff.

“Jon’s broad experience working at both a network and a studio gives him a unique perspective of a very dynamic marketplace,” Ostroff said in announcing the hire. “His extensive relationships with top talent, along with his creative instincts, will be a tremendous advantage for us in developing scripted programming from the wealth of material that comes from our magazines, digital platforms and archives.”

While at ABC, Koa worked with comedy talent including Amy Poehler, Greg Daniels, Bill Lawrence, James Burrows and Emily Kapnek.

“CNÉ has quickly become a source for unique and compelling television projects,” Koa said in a statement. “I’m looking forward to jumping into the vast archives of content and working with the iconic Condé Nast brands to develop series that really stand out.”

Prior to joining the entertainment biz, Koa worked in politics for U.S. Senators Paul Simon and Dianne Feinstein as well as the Democratic National Committee.

CNÉ has a first-look deal for scripted TV programming for both broadcast and cable at 20th Century Fox Television and currently has scripted projects set up at networks including ABC, FOX, HBO and AMC. In addition, the group has four unscripted shows in production or on the air: “Vanity Fair Confidential” for Investigation Discovery, “The Fashion Fund” and “The New Yorker Presents” for Amazon Studios, and “Geeks Who Drink” for Syfy. Additionally, CNÉ has two feature films in production, “Army of One” starring Nicolas Cage and Russell Brand, and “China: Through the Looking Glass,” which follows the creation of the Metropolitan Museum Costume Institute’s annual Gala and exhibition.

In the last few months, CNÉ has hired several execs to fill out its ranks, including Joy Marcus, former Dailymotion U.S. general manager, as G.M. of digital video.

Dwayne J. Clark VRP


Dwayne J. Clark is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Aegis Living. With more than 30 years of senior housing experience, Dwayne is nationally known for the quality of projects he manages, as well as his innovative flair. He has been involved in the development, construction and/or management of over 200 senior housing projects.

Dwayne was raised from humble beginnings by a single mom who gave him his greatest gift, the confidence that he could do anything. Those early years of Dwayne’s life led him to the tireless pursuit of running a company in a different way, with staff satisfaction being a driving force. His success in creating an outstanding company culture has been chronicled in many publications. This passion prompted him to write a book, “Help Wanted: Recruiting, Hiring and Retaining Exceptional Staff.” The book has been used for course curriculum in many leading universities. Dwayne has written two additional books about his mom and her journey with Alzheimer’s, “My Mother, My Son” and “Saturdays with G.G.” He’s currently working on his fourth book about Greatest Practices of Longevity, entitled “from Grapes to Raisins” He also writes a blog for The Huffington Post.

When Dwayne co-founded Aegis Living, his mission was to redefine an industry that had great potential but was failing in execution. He studied business models from companies known for world-class innovation, all based in Seattle: Costco, Nordstrom and Starbucks. With the knowledge gained from these companies, he grew Aegis Living from a dream to a company that has over $1.5 billion in real estate assets, over $175 million in operating revenues, over 2,000 staff members and seven projects currently under development in the Seattle area. Aegis Living is one of the most sought-after operators in the country.

Prior to forming Aegis Living, Dwayne was Executive Vice President of Sunrise Senior Living, and spent seven years with Leisure Care. Aegis Living won the prestigious Best of Assisted Living Design 2015 as awarded by Senior Housing News. Aegis Living was named the 2014 Family Business Awards Growth Award by Seattle Business Magazine for its steady rise in new business. Dwayne has been honored in numerous ways for his contribution to business, as well as to senior housing. Aegis Living has been voted “Best Company to Work For” many times by various media organizations and published employee surveys. The company is ranked the highest in the nation in the senior living industry by Glassdoor, an online employee review site. Dwayne Clark was named Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year in 2007. He was also honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award from Senior Services. He was also honored with a program at Bastyr University named the “Dwayne J. Clark Healthy Aging Program” and was granted the Bastyr University Mission Award. Aegis Living was also named Best Retirement Facility by 425 Magazine three years in a row.

Dwayne has been involved in many philanthropic ventures, including his own not-for-profit organization, the Potato Soup Foundation, which serves the needs of Aegis Living line staff and their families during times of crisis. He has also served on the boards of Seattle-based Rainier Scholars and the 5th Avenue Theatre, as well as the Young Presidents’ Organization, where he served as Chairman of the Northwest Chapter. He’s an accomplished playwright. His first play, “Seven Ways to Get There” premiered in early 2015 at Seattle’s ACT Theatre. Through his company True Productions, Clark is also producing a new documentary premiering at the 2016 Seattle International Film Festival about NBA legend Spencer Haywood entitled, “Full Court: The Spencer Haywood Story.” Dwayne Clark also owns the Seattle-based Queen Bee Café, featuring traditional English crumpets with locally-sourced products in tasty combinations. 100% of Queen Bee Café profits go to local charities.

Dwayne is married to Terese, who owned a nurse consulting practice and previously ran a luxury day spa known as Spa Agio. He has two successful children, Adam and Ashley, who both work for Aegis Living. Adam manages Aegis of Marymoor and Ashley leads philanthropic partnerships.

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My Mother, My Son Executive Producer, Writer
Sweetheart Deal Executive Producer 2017
8 Borders, 8 Days Executive Producer 2017
Big Sonia Executive Producer 2016
Full Court: The Spencer Haywood Story Executive Producer 2016
Gold Balls Executive Producer 2016
Seven Ways to Get There
One Leg in Heaven
In the Media:
Aegis Living Ceo’s Book About His Mother To Become Hollywood Feature Film  |  Puget Sound Business Journal  |  April 26, 2016

Dwayne Clark, founder of Redmond-based senior living system Aegis Living, will be the subject of an upcoming Hollywood feature film.

The movie will be based on his book, “My Mother, My Son — a True Story of Love, Determination and Memories … Lost.” It is a tribute to their relationship and to her influence on his life. Her picture is central in his office.

Clark’s 2012 emotional memoir is a reflection of the core of his vision and his experience in three decades in the elder-care industry. His mother, Mary Colleen Callahan Clark, whom he calls his omnipresent guiding light, died in October of 2010, after living with Parkinson’s-related dementia.

An article in “Deadline Hollywood” says: “This will mark the fourth collaboration between Winkler and E/F/O. They include Martin Scorsese’s upcoming passion project Silence which is now in post production and David Mamet adaptation Speed-The-Plow. Winkler and Jose Ruisanchez are co-writing My Mother, My Son, and Randall Emmett, George Furla and Winkler are producing. Tyler Jon Olson will co-produce.”

Needless to say, Clark is thrilled.

“I’m really excited about this,” Clark said. “My mother would be dancing a jig.”

To have cared for more than 60,000 people over a 30 year career, Clark said, many of whom have suffered from the same debilitating disease his mother did, makes this “a cherry on the top of that cake because so many more people will be aware of this disease.”

“To be able to retain creative control of the adaptation of the book is a wonderful thing,” Clark said, “and it’s all a little surreal right now.”

Dan Price VRP


[From his website]
Raised in rural Idaho, far from the closest neighbor, Dan Price started Gravity Payments from his university dorm room when he was just 19 years old. Although music was his passion growing up, Dan discovered his lifelong mission when he found many small business owners in his community were being taken advantage of by their credit card processors. He knew that wasn’t right, so he rolled up his sleeves and began disrupting the typical way business is done.

As he told Entrepreneur Magazine, “I never intended to make a lot of money, or really any. I was really upset at this industry for the way they were treating my clients, and I just wanted to blow the whole thing up.”

Dan shaped Gravity on a different set of values not normally seen in the workplace —honesty, transparency, and responsibility. These simple values have made Dan and the Gravity team a trusted name in credit card processing. Today, independent businesses across all 50 states trust Gravity to save them millions in fees and hours in frustration by making it easy and simple for them to accept payments.

It is well known that Dan is a celebrated entrepreneur, but what sets him apart is his conviction to do what he believes is right, even if it’s unpopular. His mission is to create a world where values-based companies reshape the economy, so business stops being about making the most money possible. Instead, he wants leaders to recognize that business should be about purpose, service, and making a difference. Dan believes it’s not about doing business as usual anymore, but doing business better.

Twitter (13.8K followers):
There’s Only 1 Question You’ll Ever Need to Ask to Test Your Company’s Core Values” 
By Dan Price  |  Inc.  |  June 27, 2017

Many companies proudly display their core values, but in practice those values are often just marketing. To determine whether your core values are honest or just rhetoric, ask yourself this one simple question:


If a company is not willing to sacrifice for its values, that company will make promises it cannot keep and will lose its way when times are tough. On the other hand, companies willing to sacrifice for their values will put themselves at a disadvantage in the short term. Over the long term, however, the benefits far outweigh the costs.

At Gravity, we have three core values, and each has put us at a competitive disadvantage. Our first core value is responsibility. One of the ways we operate with responsibility is we don’t pay sales commissions. This leads to fewer deals, but it helps us maintain focus on our clients’ needs instead of just our own. Oftentimes, our sales reps don’t close deals because they are focusing on current clients or mentoring other Gravity team members. Failing to pay commissions puts us at a disadvantage, but we do it because that’s our definition of responsibility.

Our second core value is creative leadership. We lived this value when we implemented a $70,000 minimum wage at Gravity. The downsides to this policy have been well documented. We increased payroll, our largest expense, and significantly increased the cost of bringing on entry-level team members. None of our competitors have these challenges. We put the company at risk for what could have been a very small upside.

Our third core value is passion for progress. Three years ago, we implemented a program of unlimited paid time off. Progress for us was for every employee to become the boss of his or her own career. The freedom generated by our new vacation policy was in line with this transformation. As a result, we can no longer force people to be in the office or keep their butt in a seat. We have to work harder to staff our departments. Managers are often frustrated with the scheduling challenges associated with this policy. Long absences are not uncommon. A strict vacation policy would alleviate many of these issues, but that would not be in line with our passion for progress.

Staying true to our values gives us purpose. It brings clarity to difficult decisions, and it attracts a strong community of individuals who value authenticity, rather than deceit. What values would you uphold even if they put you at a competitive disadvantage? Follow those values, embrace the obstacles they cause, and watch your company thrive.

About Gravity Payments:

[From their website]

We started Gravity Payments because we saw independent businesses being overcharged and underserved by their credit card processor. We knew that wasn’t right, so we decided to lower costs, be completely transparent, and provide better service for community business owners.

The only way to do business is to serve others, do more for them, and charge less. We shape everything we do by this motto. We’re here to support independent business owners and take one more worry off their back—by accepting payments, consulting on business solutions, and providing great customer service.

These values are the foundation that fuels our commitment to help independent businesses succeed:

  • CREATIVE LEADERSHIP: We inspire growth and innovation through learning and bold action.
  • PASSION FOR PROGRESS: We have an uncompromising focus on impact and excellence.
  • RESPONSIBILITY: We act with honesty, integrity, and thoughtfulness.

We created Gravity Payments because thousands of hard-working business owners were being overcharged and underserved by credit card processors. Today, we serve over 13,000 merchants across America, saving them millions in fees and hours of frustration. Though we’ve grown substantially over the years, we treat each of our clients as if they’re our first client. We are devoted to complete transparency. We don’t confuse our community business owners with credit card gibberish or hide anything in the fine print. Instead, we strive to make credit card processing as simple as possible.

We owe our values-based philosophy to our founder, Dan Price. In 2004, it was his commitment to level the payment processing playing field that launched Gravity.

Since then, Dan’s leadership has earned him Entrepreneur Magazine’s Entrepreneur of 2014, the 2014 Seattle Business CEO Excellence Award, GeekWire’s 2013 Young Entrepreneur of the Year, and the 2010 SBA National Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award presented by President Obama. His most recent bold action was the implementation of a $70,000 minimum wage to provide his team a better quality of life and improve the success of his clients.


Twitter (3.4K followers):
In The Media:
Seattle Company Paying $70K Salaries To Employees Expands, Workers See Housing Boom  |  KOMO News  |  June 22, 2017
The Seattle business owner who got national attention two years ago for giving all his employees at least $70,000 salaries may have a new reason to celebrate– his company, Gravity Payments, is seeing growth and his employees a “housing boom.”

“It’s been really crazy because I was here since before the announcement was made, and so kind of seeing everything happening from the announcement on has been kind of a whirlwind,” said Phillip Akhavan who is on Gravity Payment’s Merchant Relations Team.

Akhavan said after the announcement, he and his wife had their first child and also became first-time home buyers.

“We were able to push up all of our future plans,” said Akhavan. “We had help from family for a down payment, but I wouldn’t have been able to be qualified for a mortgage for a house for that much if I didn’t have a salary that could back it up.”

Akhavan is one of at least 20 of the 174 team members at Gravity Payments, a credit card processing company, who bought a home recently or will in the next few months.

“That might not sound like a large number but when you look at the actual number of people we have in our company it’s a significant portion, and the fact that it’s all happening right now is really exciting.” said Gravity’s Communications Director Ryan Pirkle.

On Wednesday afternoon, employees, who are interested in becoming homeowners, got to meet with two real estate agents at the company’s Ballard office.

“That thought didn’t cross my mind until earlier this year,” said Garrett Bucksath who started working at the company about a year ago. Bucksath, an Army veteran, moved to Seattle for the Gravity Payments job after graduating from college in North Carolina.

Bucksath is looking for a two-bedroom home, likely in the north Seattle area.

“It just seemed so far out of reach as far as just having the money to do that, being able to save up enough money to actually be able to invest into a house,” Bucksath said.

It was roughly two years ago when CEO Dan Price made the announcement he was going to offer his employees raises and give himself a pay cut. Since then, Pirkle said the company is seeing “rapid growth.” The company now processes credit cards for 18,000 small businesses, compared to 12,000 before the announcement.

As part of the growth, the company has also moved into a new office space in Ballard that’s more than twice the size of their previous location. Inside the new building, Pirkle said everything has a purpose.

“We’ve all had input into every single detail of this build-out, and so it really does feel like it’s ours,” Pirkle said.

The company is leasing two floors for office space, including one that has a “Main Street” where the conference rooms are located. On the main floor, desks are in an open area and the one thing you won’t see there are private offices — even the CEO has the same size desk as the other employees.

“Working for a company that you’re happy for and where your values are aligned that’s in my mind more important,” said Akhavan. “The fact that I can work in a place where there’s both I really feel blessed.”

Gravity Price’s Dan Price Emerges Victorious in Brother’s Suit  |  Seattle Times  |  July 12, 2016
Judge’s ruling comes after three-week trial in a suit that accused Dan Price of breaching a contract between the two brothers.

(This story was updated July 12 , 2016 to include a statement from Lucas Price.)

In a case that pitted brother against brother, Gravity Payments CEO Dan Price successfully beat back a suit brought against him by older brother and co-founder Lucas Price.

Lucas Price did not show that Dan violated Lucas’ rights as a minority shareholder, a King County judge ruled late Friday.

The ruling came after a three-week long trial in late June before King County Superior Court Judge Theresa B. Doyle.

Dan Price gained fame in 2015 for his decision to raise the minimum wage of employees at the credit-card payment processing company to $70,000 per year. The move received international attention; NBC News and The New York Times were present at the announcement.

In her 32-page decision, Doyle ruled that claims Dan Price compensated himself excessively and used his corporate credit card for personal expenses without reimbursing the company were not proved.

Doyle ordered that Dan Price’s legal fees be paid by his brother.

Lawyers for Lucas Price did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Lucas Price said he was “shocked and disappointed” in an emailed statement days after the ruling.

“I am evaluating my options,” he said.

Dan Price posted on Facebook Friday evening: “I will never take for granted the incredibly valuable role Lucas played in creating our company. I’m thankful for the opportunity to put this challenging time behind us.”

Lucas Price’s suit came to light shortly after the minimum-wage announcement, although the suit had actually been served on Dan weeks before that announcement.

The brothers started their company in 2004, and signed a contract in 2008 that gave a majority stake to Dan Price and removed Lucas Price from day-to-day responsibilities. It also set in place minority shareholder rights for Lucas.

The suit claimed that Dan Price breached the contract, claiming that Dan overpaid himself and cut Lucas out of important company decisions. Lucas sought unspecified damages, but wanted Dan to buy out his ownership shares.

“This is an unfortunate and troubling story of ego, resentment and an unwillingness of Dan Price to live with a deal he and his brother struck in 2008,” Greg Hollon, lead attorney for Lucas Price, said in both his opening and closing statement.

The defense countered that Dan Price’s compensation fell within reasonable boundaries. It said he reimbursed the company for personal expenses charged on a corporate card, and kept his brother updated when needed, all while increasing Gravity’s revenues significantly.

At one point during the trial, Dan Price said he would likely lose control of the company if forced to buy out his brother’s shares for $26 million, the assumed value.

A Company Copes With Backlash Against the Raise That Roared  |  New York Times |  July 31, 2015
Dan Price, chief of Gravity Payments, raised the annual salary floor for his employees to $70,000. Most responses were positive, but Mr. Price says that even the negative letters were valuable.

There are times when Dan Price feels as if he stumbled into the middle of the street with a flag and found himself at the head of a parade.

Three months ago, Mr. Price, 31, announced he was setting a new minimum salary of $70,000 at his Seattle credit card processing firm, Gravity Payments, and slashing his own million-dollar pay package to do it. He wasn’t thinking about the current political clamor over low wages or the growing gap between rich and poor, he said. He was just thinking of the 120 people who worked for him and, let’s be honest, a bit of free publicity. The idea struck him when a friend shared her worries about paying both her rent and student loans on a $40,000 salary. He realized a lot of his own employees earned that or less.

Yet almost overnight, a decision by one small-business man in the northwestern corner of the country became a swashbuckling blow against income inequality.

The move drew attention from around the world — including from some outspoken skeptics and conservatives like Rush Limbaugh, who smelled a socialist agenda — but most were enthusiastic. Talk show hosts lined up to interview Mr. Price. Job seekers by the thousands sent in résumés. He was called a “thought leader.” Harvard business professors flew out to conduct a case study. Third graders wrote him thank-you notes. Single women wanted to date him.

What few outsiders realized, however, was how much turmoil all the hoopla was causing at the company itself. To begin with, Gravity was simply unprepared for the onslaught of emails, Facebook posts and phone calls. The attention was thrilling, but it was also exhausting and distracting. And with so many eyes focused on the firm, some hoping to witness failure, the pressure has been intense.

More troubling, a few customers, dismayed by what they viewed as a political statement, withdrew their business. Others, anticipating a fee increase — despite repeated assurances to the contrary — also left. While dozens of new clients, inspired by Mr. Price’s announcement, were signing up, those accounts will not start paying off for at least another year. To handle the flood, he has already had to hire a dozen additional employees — now at a significantly higher cost — and is struggling to figure out whether more are needed without knowing for certain how long the bonanza will last.

Two of Mr. Price’s most valued employees quit, spurred in part by their view that it was unfair to double the pay of some new hires while the longest-serving staff members got small or no raises. Some friends and associates in Seattle’s close-knit entrepreneurial network were also piqued that Mr. Price’s action made them look stingy in front of their own employees.

Then potentially the worst blow of all: Less than two weeks after the announcement, Mr. Price’s older brother and Gravity co-founder, Lucas Price, citing longstanding differences, filed a lawsuit that potentially threatened the company’s very existence. With legal bills quickly mounting and most of his own paycheck and last year’s $2.2 million in profits plowed into the salary increases, Dan Price said, “We don’t have a margin of error to pay those legal fees.”

As Mr. Price spoke in the Gravity conference room, he could see a handful of employees setting up beach chairs in the parking lot for an impromptu meeting. The office is in Ballard, a fast-gentrifying neighborhood of Seattle that reflects the wealth gap that Mr. Price says he wants to address. Downstairs is a yoga studio, and across the street is a coffee bar where customers can sip velvet soy lattes on Adirondack-style chairs. But around the corner, beneath the elevated roadway, a homeless woman silently appeals to drivers stopped at the red light with a cardboard sign: “Plz Help.”

In his own way, Mr. Price is trying to respond to that request.

“Income inequality has been racing in the wrong direction,” he said. “I want to fight for the idea that if someone is intelligent, hard-working and does a good job, then they are entitled to live a middle-class lifestyle.”

The reaction to his salary pledge has led him to think that if his business continues to prosper, his actions could have far-reaching consequences. “The cause has expanded,” he said. “Whether I like it or not, the stakes are higher.”

On a recent weekday evening, Mr. Price confidently threaded his way through clumps of tourists and past the rows of flowers and fruits that line Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle. About 70 percent of the businesses that occupy this nearly century-old marketplace use Gravity to process their credit card payments, Mr. Price said. He started courting customers there more than 11 years ago, while still attending Seattle Pacific University, a small Christian college. He would go from stall to stall, shaking hands, scribbling down phone numbers. Early on, he signed up Pure Food Fish. The shop was a backdrop in the film “Sleepless in Seattle,” but more important, it was run by the 86-year-old Solly Amon, who inherited the pocket store from his father and is lovingly known as the “cod father.” When other merchants heard Mr. Amon trusted Dan, they did too.

“They give us tremendous service,” Mr. Amon said. He remembered an incident years ago when Mr. Price had a new credit card machine up and running within three hours after his old one died.

In addition to providing the devices and software that merchants use when a customer whips out a credit card, Gravity makes sure the money shifts securely and quickly among buyer, bank and business. In an industry dominated by global banking giants and mammoth processors, the company last year processed $6.5 billion in sales for 12,000 clients, most of them small and medium-size businesses.

Was Mr. Amon bothered by Mr. Price’s new payroll policy? “He takes care of his business, and I’ll take care of my business,” he declared.

Brian Canlis, a co-owner of his family-named restaurant, is also a client. He said he was fond of Mr. Price, but was more discomfited by his actions. Mr. Canlis is already worried about how to deal with Seattle’s new minimum wage, which rose to $11 an hour in April and is scheduled to reach $15 an hour for small businesses within five years.

The pay raise at Gravity, Mr. Canlis told Mr. Price, “makes it harder for the rest of us.”

Mr. Price winced. “It pains me to hear Brian Canlis say that,” he said later. “The last thing I would ever want to do is make a client feel uncomfortable.”

But any plan that has the potential, as Mr. Price has put it, to “set the world on fire,” is bound to make some people squirm. Leah Brajcich, who oversees sales at Gravity, fielded complaints from several customers who accused her boss of communist or socialist sympathies that would drive up their own employees’ wages and others who felt it was a public relations stunt. A few were worried that fees would rise or service would fall off. “What’s their incentive to hustle if you pay them so much?” Ms. Brajcich said they asked. Putting in 80-hour weeks after the announcement, she called the mistrustful clients, stopping by their offices or stores, and invited them to visit Gravity to see for themselves the employees’ dedication. She said she eventually lured most back.

As for other business leaders in Mr. Price’s social circle, they were split on whether he was a brilliant strategist or simply nuts. As much as they respected him, they were also disturbed. “I worry how that’s going to impact other businesses,” said Steve Duffield, the chief executive of the DACO Corporation, who met Mr. Price through the Entrepreneurs’ Organization in Seattle. “We can’t afford to do that. For most businesses, employees are the biggest expense and they need to manage those costs in order to survive.”

Roger Reynolds, a co-owner of a wealth management company, said his discussion of the pay plan with Mr. Price got heated. “My wife and I got so frustrated with him at a cocktail party, we literally left,” said Mr. Reynolds, who complained that Mr. Price unfairly accused him of measuring his self-worth solely in terms of money and trying to hold somebody else down. Everyone may have equal rights, but not equal talent or motivation, Mr. Reynolds said. “I think he’s trying to bring in some political and aspirational beliefs into the compensation structure of the workplace.”

If there was a 19th-century thinker Mr. Price drew inspiration from, it would be not Karl Marx, but Russell Conwell, the Baptist minister and Temple University founder, whose famed “Acres of Diamonds” speech fused Christianity and capitalism. “To make money honestly is to preach the Gospel,” Mr. Conwell exhorted his listeners. To get rich “is our Christian and godly duty.”

Growing up in rural southwestern Idaho, Mr. Price frequently listened to a recording of the speech on tape.

Every day he and his four brothers and one sister rose as early as 5 a.m. to recite a proverb, a psalm, a Gospel chapter and an excerpt from the Old and New Testaments. Home-schooled until he was 12 and taught to accept the Bible as the literal truth, Mr. Price also listened to the Rush Limbaugh show for three hours a day — never imagining he would one day be the subject of a rant by the host. Then it was time to help his mother with organic gardening, composting and recycling.

Like his siblings, Dan was fiercely competitive, said his father, Ron Price, and hard on himself if he didn’t come in first at Bible memorization contests, backyard football or board games like Life and Monopoly. “Dan has always been a deal maker,” said his father, who is now a management consultant.

The isolation did not prepare Mr. Price for the complex social interactions of junior high school. He was awkward, out of place. He remembered joining in when a group of children started laughing, only to later realize that he had been the target of their ridicule.

His experiences did reinforce an independent, contrarian streak even as he made a place for himself in the teenagers’ terrain. He formed a rock band and got a girlfriend. After their first hug at 17, her conservative Christian father demanded to know his intentions. The two were engaged, and they married four years later. (They divorced amicably in 2011.)

His parents instilled a sense of purpose. “We had a family mission” to glorify God, he said. The household was run as a “family business” with jobs and responsibilities carefully set out in charts and diagrams. “All my siblings hated it, but I thought it was cool,” Mr. Price said with a laugh.

Mr. Price is no longer so religious, but the values and faith he grew up on are “in my DNA,” he said. “It’s just something that’s part of me.”

He transferred that zeal to his credit card processing business, which he started out of his dorm room in 2004 with his brother Lucas, five years his senior.

He preached Main Street capitalism that promised to deliver good value, low prices and individual service. His success won him a shelf full of local business awards and even a chance to meet President Obama during National Small Business Week when he was just 25. Though he now has the shoulder-length hair and beard of a hipster, back then he looked like a baby-faced Donny Osmond and sounded like Alex P. Keaton, the eager beaver Republican played by Michael J. Fox on the 1980s sitcom “Family Ties.” He did not actively oppose Seattle’s minimum-wage increase, but a reason he urges other business owners to follow his lead on pay is to avoid more government regulation.

Mr. Price’s drive to succeed, fierce commitment to help small businesses and exacting standards attracted other business-minded idealists. Some even took pay cuts to work at Gravity. Keeping an existing client is more important than getting a new one, he decreed. Never make a caller hear more than two rings before picking up.

Nydelis Ortiz, 25, a former Peace Corps volunteer in Peru (not to mention the 2010 Miss Vermont), said she was drawn to his passion and community volunteer projects. Emery Wager, 30, a Stanford engineering graduate and a former Marine, decided to forgo applying to Harvard Business School so he could work closely with Mr. Price. (He felt vindicated when a Harvard friend who had ridiculed his decision told him Gravity’s pay scale was discussed in class.)

Maisey McMaster was also one of the believers. Now 26, she joined the company five years ago and worked her way up to financial manager, putting in long hours that left little time for her husband and extended family. “There’s a special culture,” where people “work hard and play hard,” she said. “I love everyone there.”

She helped calculate whether the firm could afford to gradually raise everyone’s salary to $70,000 over a three-year period, and was initially swept up in the excitement. But the more she thought about it, the more the details gnawed at her.

“He gave raises to people who have the least skills and are the least equipped to do the job, and the ones who were taking on the most didn’t get much of a bump,” she said. To her, a fairer proposal would have been to give smaller increases with the opportunity to earn a future raise with more experience.

A couple of days after the announcement, she decided to talk to Mr. Price.

“He treated me as if I was being selfish and only thinking about myself,” she said. “That really hurt me. I was talking about not only me, but about everyone in my position.”

Already approaching burnout from the relentless pace, she decided to quit.

The new pay scale also helped push Grant Moran, 29, Gravity’s web developer, to leave. “I had a lot of mixed emotions,” he said. His own salary was bumped up to $50,000 from $41,000 (the first stage of the raise), but the policy was nevertheless disconcerting. “Now the people who were just clocking in and out were making the same as me,” he complained. “It shackles high performers to less motivated team members.”

Mr. Moran also fretted that the extra money could over time become too enticing to give up, keeping him from his primary goal of further developing his web skills and moving to a digital company.

And the attention was vexing. “I was kind of uncomfortable and didn’t like having my wage advertised so publicly and so blatantly,” he said, echoing a sentiment of several Gravity staff members. “It changed perspectives and expectations of you, whether it’s the amount you tip on a cup of coffee that day or family and friends now calling you for a loan.”

Several employees who stayed, while exhilarated by the raises, say they now feel a lot of pressure. “Am I doing my job well enough to deserve this?” said Stephanie Brooks, 23, who joined Gravity as an administrative assistant two months before the wage increase. “I didn’t earn it.”

When Mr. Price chose $70,000 as the eventual salary floor, he was influenced by research showing that this annual income could make an enormous difference in someone’s emotional well-being by easing nagging financial stress.

He might have also considered the parable of the workers in the vineyard from the Gospel of St. Matthew, where the laborers hired at sunup were upset that their pay was the same as those who showed up right before quitting time. Early adopters and latecomers may be equally welcomed in the Kingdom of Heaven, but not necessarily in the earthly realm, where rewards are generally bestowed in paycheck form.

As for the raw feelings of friends or staff members, Mr. Price readily admits that he can be contentious, even censorious. A disagreement often comes across as a personal attack. “It’s just as painful for me as anyone else,” he said.

Mr. Price, who extolled Ms. McMaster’s talents, said he didn’t think she, Mr. Moran or even Rush Limbaugh was wrong. “There’s no perfect way to do this and no way to handle complex workplace issues that doesn’t have any downsides or trade-offs,” he said. When other entrepreneurs suggested that stock options or profit-sharing would have been a better approach, he said that’s the way capitalism works: Everyone tries to invent the best mousetrap. “I came up with the best solution I could.”

And the publicity surrounding it has generated tangible benefits. Three months before the announcement, the firm had been adding 200 clients a month. In June, 350 signed up.

That new business won’t start paying off for 12 to 18 months, however, Mr. Price said, and in the meantime, he is contending with the lawsuit brought by his brother. Lucas Price owns about 30 percent of their company, although he has not actively been involved in day-to-day operations for several years. There had been tensions between the two long before the new pay plan, and Lucas is demanding that Dan buy him out for an unspecified amount, plus damages.

Lucas, who lives in Seattle, declined to be interviewed but wrote in an email: “Dan has taken millions of dollars out of the company for himself while denying me the benefits of the ownership of my shares, and otherwise favoring his own interests as the majority shareholder over my interests.” He said his complaints predated the pay raises.

Even so, they clearly are critical to the outcome. With profits, at least in the short term, shifted to salaries, there is little left over to buy out his brother, let alone pay the legal bills or make longer-term capital improvements in the company, Dan said.

Flabbergasted when the suit arrived, Dan said he was puzzled by the accusations, saying that Lucas agreed to his $1.1 million salary and bonus package, instituted for 2012.

Family fighting over a business can be ugly and is often about more than just money. Dan conceded he may have previously given short shrift to Lucas’s contributions. “Who knows if I would have had the opportunity to build the company without him helping me out in the first couple of years?” he said.

Lucas was the best man at his wedding, and the two, close friends, often hiked, surfed and attended ballgames together. By the end, “being in business together was the worst thing for our relationship,” Dan said. After the lawsuit was filed, he said he called the rest of his family and told them to offer “unconditional love and support” to both Lucas and him. (Their younger brother Alex, 23, also works at the company.)

While it is upsetting to see two of his sons at odds, Ron Price said, “their mother and me don’t lose sleep over it. I think they’ll get it sorted out.”

Dan Price, who estimated his current net worth, including his home, at about $3 million, said he had offered to “give up everything I have personally and everything I’ll have for years to come.” A court date has been set for May.

For now, at least, Mr. Price has undoubtedly made an immediate difference in the lives of many of his employees. José Garcia, 30, who supervises an equipment team, was able to afford to move into the city and replace the worn tires on his car. Ms. Ortiz, who was briefly homeless as a child, can now visit her family in Burlington, Vt. Cody Boorman, 22, who handles operations out of his eastern Washington home, said he and his wife finally felt financially secure enough to start a family.

There have been other ripples. Mario Zahariev, who runs Pop’s Pizza & Pasta, switched to Gravity after seeing Mr. Price on the news. When he learned his monthly processing fees would drop to $900 from $1,700, Mr. Zahariev decided, “I was not going to keep the difference for myself.” He used the savings to raise the salaries of his eight employees.

Pop’s Pizza aside, Mr. Price’s plan is not easily replicated, said Nick Hanauer, a Seattle venture capitalist and an early promoter of the city’s $15 minimum wage law. Still, he noted, “These individual acts can create a new kind of perception of what’s possible and what’s righteous.” After all, he said, two years ago, no one would ever have guessed higher minimum wage laws would be catching fire in cities around the country. “Who can tell what that last thing is that catalyzes big change?”

In that sense, Mr. Price’s foray into the public debate on wages is not unlike his newfound passion of wake surfing. Cruising atop the curl of a wave created by a motorboat isn’t easy. Lean too far ahead of the swell or drift behind it and you wipe out. For the moment, he is balancing on the crest, enjoying the ride and doing his best to keep from falling off.


10 Questions With… Dan Price, Entrepreneur of 2014  |  YPO  |  January 28, 2015
What does it take to become Entrepreneur of the Year? YPO member Dan Price, CEO of Gravity Payments, received the coveted 2014 honor from Entrepreneur magazine. Learn more about his leadership style, company culture and top insights for business leaders. Price founded the company at age 19 and joined the YPO Pacific Northwest Chapter in 2013.

What does being named “Entrepreneur of the Year” mean for you as a leader? What does it say about your team?
There was a blog that wrote a critique that the award was misplaced, and I kind of agree with that. I don’t think we’ve arrived at all. I think we still have a lot more to do. In the past, I’ve been proud of the cool stuff we’ve done, but I think it’s just one-tenth of one percent of what we want to do. As a leader, this means I have a lot more pressure and a lot more to prove. Some people say an award like this would validate what they’re doing; I would say we need to do things that will validate this award.

I think what it says about my team – and our clients and those who support us – is that they care about me and Gravity. They don’t care what they get out of it, but they genuinely want us to succeed at what we’re trying to do. We have some great people, but I don’t think we’ve arrived yet. It’s a nice chance to appreciate my team, but it’s also an opportunity to look at each other and use this as a challenge to mean what we say.

When/how did you first hear about YPO? What made you want to join?
I had somewhat of an informal mentor named Dan Levine. He’s here in Seattle and he told me a lot about YPO. He was the one who first told me about all the different things he got out of being a member. It was life changing for him and he thought I would really benefit from checking it out.

You were featured in the YPO-CNBC article about the benefits of unlimited PTO. How else are you innovative or what other conventional practices would you do away with?
Our philosophy is that every single person at Gravity needs to be the CEO of themselves. Some people get confused about what that means. It means we value challenges and struggles, and we don’t want things to come easy. We want to push ourselves to do and be better. If we do that, we’ll create a company truly meant to serve others. Each individual will create an ability within themselves that will pay huge dividends for the rest of their lives. So, we’re innovative in the sense that we don’t do things the easy way. Nothing is laid out and you don’t have somebody telling you what to do. You have the opportunity to pave your own path at this company.

Our whole purpose of being in this industry is to help independent businesses accepting payments. We wanted to transform this industry that many don’t trust by giving them the best possible options and support to accept payments. We structured the whole company – including no outside financing – to accomplish that long-term goal. A lot of our clients have said, “We want more; we want to do this; we want to do that” and we know we can’t do everything for everybody, but we try to do what we can to support them. One thing we’ve done to help was setting up an alternative loan program that helps independent businesses quickly access funds. We have been able to finance over $10 million for community businesses strictly based off word-of-mouth referrals.

The other thing we do differently is that we don’t pay our salespeople commissions. That’s been since day one. Our salespeople are incentivized based on customer retention and customer satisfaction. Our competitors pay these big sales commissions which make the price to the client go way up, while making the long-term satisfaction of the client go down. This doesn’t incentivize building a long-term relationship with a client, but rather a one-and-done type of deal. Our salespeople consistently check-in, make sure everything is working, review rates, help business owners understand their statements, and even send them advice articles on how to help their business succeed. All of that has allowed Gravity to keep our clients five times longer than the industry average.

What is the most difficult leadership lesson you have learned?
I’m not sure if it’s a lesson I’ve learned, but the most difficult thing for me in terms of being a leader is that I’m very optimistic about people. I really care about people I work and interact with, and people I meet. I see potential and how great a person can be, and it results in me holding very high standards for them. I see what they’re capable of, and it’s important for me they meet that potential. More often than not it does happen, but when things get in the way and somebody doesn’t meet their potential, it’s very painful.

Complete the sentence: “If I wasn’t a business leader, I would be a…
If I wasn’t a business leader, I would want to be a part of the Gravity team. I’m committed to what we’re doing. I want to show the world that treating your clients the way you would want to be treated, and using your client’s best interest as your motivation every day, will win out over greed in the long run.

What are the top 3 challenges for today’s business leaders?
I would say number one is figuring out and being clear on your purpose: What do you most care about? How are you going to stay focused and stick with your purpose even if it’s different than what other people care about? How are you going to inspire other people to do the same inside your organization?

The second challenge is managing risk and uncertainty. The world does not work in a linear way. Things change all the time, especially when there are groups of people involved. We can wake up one day and reality is completely different. How is your company or the group that you lead going to adapt and benefit from those changes?

The third would be to accomplish the first two in a way that is going to be healthy and sustainable for you. As a leader, one of the things you are is an example. I think it’s important to lead a life that is healthy overall and encourages the people you work with to do the same.

What is one must-read book for business leaders?
A book I enjoy is called Switch by Chip and Dan Heath. It’s a book about the psychology and the science of change, and emphasizing change within people. If there is something within yourself or within your organization you’d like to change, the steps to changing it may be less intuitive than you might think.

What do you do when you’re not working? Any surprising hobbies or talents?
I enjoy doing pretty much anything. I love to snowboard, surf, hike, play soccer, and workout. I just love variety. I like to try and learn new things as much as I can.

What is the best piece of leadership advice you have received?

If you want people to trust you, the way to earn their trust is to be 100 percent honest and transparent.

How has being in YPO positively affected your business or leadership?

I’d say a big part of leadership is empathy. Being a member of YPO is nice because you have a constant practice of learning to both receive and give empathy. For me, having more empathy is one of the most powerful things I can do to improve as a leader.

Cheryl Bloch VRP

Northern Exposure (TV) Supervising Producer 1990 – 1995
Gideon Oliver (TV) Associate Producer 1989
A Year in the Life (TV) Associate Producer 1987 – 1988
Amazing Stories (TV) Associate Producer 1987
In the Media:
‘Northern Exposure’ Team Talks Possible Revival: “We Would Love to See It”  |  Hollywood Reporter  |  June 9, 2017
The cast and creative behind cult favorite Northern Exposure reunited Friday at the ATX Television Festival in Austin, Texas, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the former CBS series’ premiere.

“I think it was five years ago,” star Rob Morrow joked.

Like most reunions in the Peak TV era, the question turned to potential revival of the quirky drama, which ran for five seasons and 110 episodes. Set in a sleepy town in Alaska, the series centered on New York City physician, Dr. Joel Fleischman (Morrow), who is sent to practice in the fictional town of Cicely to fulfill his obligation after Alaska paid for his medical education.

“Rob has been working trying to get them to do it,” co-creator Joshua Brand said. “We would love to see it because I think it is of a time but it’s also not of a time.”

In addition to Morrow’s efforts, Darren E. Burrows, who played Ed on the series, has been working to raise money for the project. “It sounds like we all want it to happen,” said Cynthia Geary, who played Shelly.

Janine Turner, who played Maggie, encouraged those in the crowd to write to Universal Television, which produced the show. “Write Universal. At least we got to get it streamed,” she said of the series, which is not currently available to stream on any platform.

The push for a potential revival harkened back to the early efforts to simply get the series on the air. Brand recalled the show’s unassuming start when it quietly launched on CBS in the summer of 1990 with an eight-episode order.

“They didn’t think anyone would watch but they had to, they had to burn off an eight-episode series,” Brand recalled of the deal between Universal Television and CBS. “The network didn’t understand the show.”

Case in point? Brand recalled one of the original names pitched for the series was Dr. Snow. “Of course, they thought it was a medical show,” Brand said with a laugh. “Rob would get on his sled and carry the serum to the sick people.”

Because of that, CBS initially refused to air the season one episode, “Aurora Borealis: A Fairy Tale for Grown-Ups,” which has since become a fan-favorite and screened for fans Friday at the start of the panel. “When the network saw it, they thought it was too weird and odd and they didn’t want to air it,” Brand said. Producers convinced them to air it as the eighth and final episode of season one and it was quickly embraced by viewers.

“Once we knew that people did like this episode we actually, my partner and I, we turned to each other and we said, ‘We can do anything we want on this show,’ and it was incredibly liberating,” Brand said. “We understood that the audience was willing to go on any ride we wanted to take them. … It opened up the whole show for us.”

While the series was certainly off the beaten path, Morrow said it continues to resonate because it appealed to a broad spectrum of viewers. “It was highbrow and lowbrow,” he said. “You could be an intellectual and like it and be an idiot and like it, and that was really rare. It certainly on the page read like nothing I had ever read.”

Because the show was hard to understand, at least by network standards, the creative team was largely left alone, according to Brand. “We were fortunate in that we were flying under the radar,” he said. “At the time, we were fortunate to sort of have to fly by the seat of our pants.”

However, that all changed once the show became a runaway hit. Brand recalled a particularly big fight over the season-two episode titled “War and Peace,” in which Morrow’s character broke the fourth wall — a creative move that “horrified” the studio, he said.

“I got into a huge fight with them because they wanted me to change it,” he said. “I said, ‘No, this is it.'”

Brand then recalled bring flown to New York for a tough meeting with executives. “They sort of told me I was a really bad boy and I either had to kiss the ring or the threat was obviously to get rid of me,” he said. “It was an explicit threat. … I loved the show and I didn’t want to leave the show, so I kissed the ring.”

However, Brand went back to Los Angeles and soon found he was “miserable” and “unhappy.” So he called his agent and told him he was done with the show. Two hours later, Brand recalled, the studio called him. “They said, ‘Here’s the deal: You can do whatever you want, but you can’t ask us for any more money,'” he said with a laugh. “And I never got another note from them again.”

WE tv Builds Scripted Division, Appoints Cheryl Bloch Senior Vice President  |  Variety  |  October 30, 2013
Though WE tv is currently known for femme-forward reality fare, the AMC Networks cabler has major plans of expanding into scripted programming, and has appointed a new exec to lead the charge.

Cheryl Bloch has been named senior vice prez of scripted programming, WE tv announced today. She will report to the net’s recently hired prez Marc Juris, and be based in AMC Networks’ Santa Monica office.

In her new post, Bloch will scout, develop and produce scripted series, working with scribes, producers and studios on all aspects of a project. Bloch previously served as a consultant to WE tv, helping the net greenlight its first scripted series, “The Divide.” The drama, written by Richard LaGravanese and co-created by La Gravanese and Tony Goldwyn, will roll out next year. She also helped build WE’s development slate of scripted projects.

Before joining WE, Bloch was senior veep at Jennilind Prods., and has served as vice prez of drama development at Fox, where she developed shows including “24” and “Boston Public.”

Tony Goldwyn VRP


Tony Goldwyn is an American actor, producer, director and political activist. He portrayed Carl Bruner in Ghost, Colonel Bagley in The Last Samurai, and the voice of the title character of the Disney animated film Tarzan. He stars in the ABC drama Scandal, as Fitzgerald Grant III, President of the United States

Agent: Risa Gertner (CAA)
Manager: Steven Nossokoff, Jason Weinberg (Untitled Entertainment)


Twitter (500K followers):
Scandal (TV)Director, Actor2012 – 2017
The Divide (TV) Creator, Writer 2014
Justified (TV) Director 2010 – 2012
Hawthorne (TV) Director 2011
Damages (TV) Director 2010
Conviction Producer, Director 2010
Dirty Sexy Money (TV) Director 2007
Private Practice (TV) Director 2007
Kidnapped (TV) Director 2007
Six Degrees (TV) Director 2007
Alibi (TV) Director 2007
Dexter (TV) Director 2006 – 2007
The Last Kiss Director 2006
Law & Order (TV) Director 2006
Grey’s Anatomy (TV) Director 2005 – 2006
The L Word (TV) Director 2004 – 2006
Without a Trace (TV) Director 2004
Someone Like You… Director 2001
A Walk on the Moon Producer, Director 1999
In the Media:
‘Scandal’s Tony Goldwyn On Tonight’s Finale, The Final Season & Trump Era  |  Deadline  |  May 18, 2017

America’s first female President of the United States has taken office and survived an assassination attempt, but Vice President Luna Vargas is dead, thanks to Jake Ballard and a now truly all-powerful Olivia Pope – and that was just the last few minutes of tonight’s two-hour Scandal Season 6 finale.
About to launch into its now confirmed seventh and final season when Scandalreturns in September, the Shonda Rhimes-created and Kerry Washington-led D.C.-based drama definitely set the table just now that the EP promised it will leave nothing on when it’s all over.

One thing that will be gone in that final season is the presidency of Fitzgerald Grant III, as the Tony Goldwyn-portrayed POTUS left the White House with ex-wife Mellie (Bellamy Young) now occupying the Oval Office. However, as tonight’s Goldwyn-directed “Transfer of Power” finale episode made clear, the real power is not with the new President Grant but newly installed WH Chief of Staff Pope.

Having handed over the reins of her crisis management firm to a pregnant Quinn (Katie Lowes), forcing the Veep to take her own life, and poised to put the formerly disgraced Cyrus Beene (Jeff Perry) in as the next VP, two-time Emmy nominee Washington’s Pope kissed Fitz goodbye, for now, and embraced what has long seemed her destiny. Add to that, the character based on real-life POTUS 41 aide Judy Smith cut her Emmy-winning Joe Morton-played father off at the pass and pressed him back into service as she reinstated the covert and dreaded B613 unit – under her command.

With all that in mind and with the end in sight with Season 7, I chatted with Goldwyn about tonight’s finale, where Fitz and Olivia go next now that he is no longer POTUS and what’s in store for the end of Scandal. The director of the feature Walk on the Moon and episodes of Dexter, Justified, several Scandals and that other Shondaland show that had a finale tonight Grey’s Anatomy, among others, big-time Hillary Clinton supporter Goldwyn also revealed how he found out the show was coming to an end, where the series fits in the era of Donald Trump and how you pull off a TV presidential inauguration.

GOLDWYN: It feels a little weird for two reasons. Number one, I got kind of used to being the president. So all good things must come to an end, but people still call me Mr. President, so that’s cool. Also it feels weird because I have no idea what function my character will serve in the show, when I’m not president anymore. Shonda obviously has something in mind for one more season. So I’m really curious to see what she’s thinking.

DEADLINE: How did you find out that next year is going to be the last season?

GOLDWYN: We just found that out last week. Shonda called us and told us as a group. I had my suspicions that that might be the case.

DEADLINE: Shonda has said for this final season that she intends to leave nothing on the table for the final season – what does that mean to you after tonight’s finale?

GOLDWYN: You know, I heard Shonda say that. I’m not sure what that means, but I trust her to her word because she has quite the imagination. I guess what I think that would mean is she’s going to push herself and her writers as hard as she can to break new ground and to do things in a way that she hasn’t done them before. You know, to keep reinventing the show and to pursue the themes of this kind of gravitational pull of power, to its inevitable conclusion, you know what I mean? She’s going to really go for it and not be on cruise control at all.

You know, she did not want the show to wind down, that’s why she’s ending it at the end of Season 7. She wanted to finish while her creative imagination was still on the rise, I think, as opposed to, “OK, well, we’re kind of done, so let’s wind things down.” That’s not what she’s interested in.

DEADLINE: It did look for a few minutes like Fitz would be moving from the Oval Office to the real center of power running B613 for next season…

GOLDWYN: Exactly, and then after signing that executive order he does an about-face because of Olivia and recognizing this ring of power that is such an important force on Scandal and such a corrupting force.

It’s something that Shonda’s really exploring, all the time. In Shonda, and all the characters are drawn to it, particularly this season. In a funny sense, Fitz, who’s had such a complicated relationship with power, is drawn into the dark side for a minute. Thinking and deluding himself that he will be different. And then with Olivia, it’s such a great twist in the finale. Olivia talks him out of it or holds a mirror up, and then she falls forward herself into it.

DEADLINE: It really sets everything up for Season 7, with Kerry’s character truly at the pinnacle of power like never before.

GOLDWYN: We’ll see what happens. I think that’s such an interesting twist that she’s now gone all-in to what can only be a pretty dark road.

DEADLINE: Speaking of that dark road maybe to come, you did double duty with the finale, directing as well as playing the outgoing POTUS. You’ve obviously directed episodes of the show before as well as a fair share of TV, but a finale is a different game, isn’t it?

GOLDWYN: Yeah, doing the finale was really cool because you are bringing all the threads together and, like you said, launching, you know, getting ready to launch into the next season. This one was particularly fun because we had just some big stuff with this whole inauguration of Mellie as President, which was a really interesting challenge. You know, I love doing things, as a director, where you create the illusion of a giant event when you have limited resources. So we created this whole inauguration, which had to look awesome and impressive, because it was the finale, and it was the inauguration of the first woman president. So that turned out pretty well, I think.

DEADLINE: Talking about the notion of the first female president being inaugurated, that didn’t happen in real life, but instead we have scandals that almost make the scandals of Scandal look trite with President Trump. As someone who was a very open and vocal supporter of Hillary Clinton in last year’s election, how does this finale feel as you play out what’s one new presidency onscreen and another reality in real life?

GOLDWYN: Shonda has said, the night after the election, the writers, they all sat down and they were like we have to completely re-conceive our season. That was because they had really anticipated that Hillary was going to win, and Scandal was going to be doing something very different. Now I don’t know what that was exactly because I wasn’t privy to that.

I do know I feel like what they’ve done now is we’re kind of a bizarre counterpoint to what’s going on in the Trump White House.

You know, we could not be more outrageous or theatrical than what’s actually happening. Yet even though Shonda’s not literally commenting on it, I feel that somehow we’re this weird alternate reality that is in reaction to what’s happening in Washington now. I don’t even know quite how to describe it, but it feels very relevant. I don’t know if it’s emotionally or with the darkness of it, but something in Scandal this year feels very much connected to what’s happening in our political reality.

DEADLINE: Do you mean like how people used to say back in the early 2000s that Martin Sheen and The West Wing almost stood as the unofficial opposition to the Bush II White House? Do you think that’s a role that Scandal is going to play in its final season, with Mellie in the White House?

GOLDWYN: I don’t think it can because we’ve already thrown down as a very different thing. We were the opposite of that before because in the Obama years, there was this unassailable kind of first couple, and so we became the alternative of that, where we were this fundamentally corrupt and crazy, chaotic, scandalous house of power. So now that we have the Trump administration, we can’t whipsaw back and have Mellie be this sort of Martin Sheen-like president, because Mellie …well, Mellie is a complicated lady, you know? She’s more like Lady Macbeth. So honestly, no, I don’t think it can be like an unofficial opposition. But I do think Shonda has a lot to say, and she finds a way to say it, and so what we do will be very connected, I think, to what’s happening in Washington.

DEADLINE: Conceived and executed before it was official that Scandalwas going to end next season, what do you think fans of the show will take away from the Season 6 finale?

GOLDWYN: What Shonda’s so brilliant at, I think, will leave the fans, after the finale, feeling both satisfied and very frustrated — particularly with what happens with Olivia and Fitz. I was really so happy about was the way that that relationship evolved in that episode. It felt, you have that beautiful ending, which is very emotional, and yet it was kind of earned, and it wasn’t sentimental or obligatory, I think. It ultimately ends in a bittersweet way, and then later with Cyrus, it ends in a very dark and disturbing way for Olivia.

DEADLINE: You mean that last line about now being the most powerful person in the world feels right for Olivia?

GOLDWYN: Yes, that’s the greatest last line. Part of what makes it great for me is wondering what is that going to cost her. So, Shonda has done this thing where you feel so satisfied that Olivia has reached the pinnacle of power, and yet you know it ain’t going to go well for her. That’s a very dangerous place to sit.

There’s great satisfaction to Mellie being the president and the first female president, and yet she’s not the most powerful person in the world. It is her lieutenant, Olivia, who has the real power. Think of this, the threat of whoever was behind this conspiracy to murder Frankie Vargas and Mellie, you know now it was Luna, but there’s still plenty of threats out there. What I’m saying is I feel like there still feels there’s plenty of danger in our world. So the audience has that sense of satisfaction and yet jeopardy and instability, and that is what I think is what makes Scandal such a satisfying show.

DEADLINE: To that end, the evolution of their relationship and that dramatic public kiss before Fitz got on the helicopter, where can things go for your character and Kerry’s Olivia now?

GOLDWYN: (laughs) First of all, I really have no idea, and I never know what Shonda’s going to do. I also don’t really enjoy speculating too much because I love being surprised by her. But since you asked, I imagine, just as people, Fitz and Olivia can’t — they can’t stay away from each other, you know? They’ve tried before and they’ve been unsuccessful, so I feel like this pull between them is going to be unavoidable. I don’t know if it’ll end up working.

My guess is that Fitz is going to move forward and try and develop his new life, starting his foundation or whatever. I suspect, having no idea, at the same time that somehow the vortex that Olivia’s going to find herself in — as Cyrus says, the most powerful person on the planet — is going to have a cost. It will cost her in some profound way, and Fitz will, I can only believe, somehow have to either have to or want to step in. Whether Olivia reaches out to him or he reaches out to her, I don’t know, but I feel like there’s another round that they need to go that’ll deepen their relationship even further. I don’t know if they should be together or not, you know, because I don’t know if the circumstances of their lives will allow that, but I know they can’t be apart.

DEADLINE: We certainly saw that in alt-reality version of things in Episode 10 of this season and Episode 100 of the series, “The Decision,” where we glimpse the outcome of things if Olivia hadn’t stolen the election for Fitz. He became a cable news host and they are married — though not so happily, it seems. What was that shift out of Scandal‘s usual narrative lane like from your perspective?

GOLDWYN: I thought it was fascinating. It was a brilliant concept to do that, and it was very illuminating because to see all of the characters, function and evolve so differently. Because of a different set of circumstances, they literally became different people, and that allowed us to see what Olivia and Fitz’s relationship would be if he wasn’t the President of the United States and she wasn’t this sort of uber-successful person with access to all levels of power.

Like you said, their relationship sort of stumbled, and then they found each other at the end of it, which was kind of beautiful, you know? What I thought was most interesting about it was even though you got to know these characters, in that circumstance, it was completely different from the way that the actual reality evolved, and I felt that it informed our understanding and our relationship, as an audience, with these characters in the Scandal reality.

DEADLINE: There’s another last year of that Scandal reality coming, but after that, for you, are we going to see you directing more post-Scandal?

GOLDWYN: Definitely a lot more directing. You know it is an interesting assignment being episodic television director. I view it as like a great workout. You come in, you have to make decisions fast, but you’re doing only part of the job that one does as a feature film director or as a show creator.

Directing Scandal I’m really, as an episodic director, servicing Shonda. I’m there to bring her ideas to life, but all the final decisions are hers, even the cut. I turn my cut over to her, and in this case it was like 20 minutes too long because she needed to see everything that was written and shot. Then she makes the final decisions about structure and what the final cut of the show’s going to be. So, you know, for me, probably in the future, I would direct more on a show that I loved like Scandal; it’s fun. But to me, the great job is either directing a feature film or being on a show where I’m also an executive producer, where I’m really involved in every stage of it. That is the most exciting.


Richard LaGravenese VRP


Richard LaGravenese is an American screenwriter and film director, best known as the writer of The Fisher King, for which he was nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. He was also nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Writing of a Miniseries, Movie or Dramatic Special for Behind the Candelabra.
Agency: CAA

Twitter (2,745 followers):
Camp Creepy Time Executive Producer
Gypsy Writer
Man and Wife Director
The Comedian Writer 2016
Pushing Dead Producer 2016
Unbroken Writer 2014
The Last Five Years Director, Writer 2014
The Divide (TV) Creator, Writer 2014
Dangerous Liaisons (TV) Executive Producer 2014
Behind the Candelabra (TV) Writer 2013
Beautiful Creatures Director, Writer 2013
Water for Elephants Writer 2011
P.S. I Love You Director, Writer 2007
Freedom Writers Director, Writer 2007
Paris, je t’aims Director, Writer 2006
A Decade Under the Influence Director, Producer 2003
Living Out Loud Director, Writer 1998
Beloved Writer 1998
The Horse Whisperer Writer 1998
The Mirror Has Two Faces Writer 1996
Unstrung Heroes Writer 1995
The Bridges of Madison County Writer 1995
A Little Princess Writer 1995
The Ref Writer, Producer 1995
The Fisher King Writer 1991
Rude Awakening Writer 1989
In the Media:
Richard LaGravenese on His ‘Rude Awakening’ to Hollywood  |  Variety  |  February 27, 2015
Richard LaGravenese was nominated for an Oscar at age 32 for his first solo screenplay, “The Fisher King.” But his movie career got off to a rocky start a few years earlier, as co-writer of the Cheech Marin-Eric Roberts comedy “Rude Awakening” for producer Aaron Russo. LaGravenese, who most recently directed the musical “The Last Five Years,” reflected on his humble beginnings.

How did you get involved with “Rude Awakening,” or as it was then known, “The Guatemalan Papers”?
I was writing plays and doing standup comedy. A friend of mine from college is married to Neil Levy, who started on “Saturday Night Live” in the early days and is a really great guy and funny writer. Neil had sold an idea called “Guatemalan Papers” — a “Dr. Strangelove”-like satire about these ’60s radicals hiding in Guatemala — to Aaron Russo. What we didn’t know is all Aaron heard was “the ’60s meets the ’80s.”

What was the experience like?
For three years we worked for Aaron, did hundreds of drafts for no money. He kept dangling that he was going to make it and, unfortunately, he did. About halfway through, he fired the director and directed the movie himself.

By 1992 you were nominated for an Oscar. What changed?
During the period, I got married, and my wife was supporting us. I started writing a screenplay on my own. That became “The Fisher King.” The month that I sold that in ’88 was when Aaron was starting production. He fired me. I was literally banned from the set of “Rude Awakening” because I would not sell him “Fisher King.” I didn’t know a lot, but I knew enough not to sell him my spec screenplay.

How did you feel when “Rude Awakening” was released? Roger Ebert gave it zero stars, and it was a box office bomb.
I thought my career was over before it began. I wanted to keep working, and said yes to everything I could. “Fisher King” didn’t go into production until 1990, so I was just a working writer.

What advice would you give your younger self?
I think I would’ve stuck with writing more originals, which is what I’m going back to now finally.

Was the goal always to direct?
I didn’t write to become a director, which many people do. (“The Last Five Years”) is my first project that I didn’t write at all, just because I love the material. It’s an Off Broadway musical and a great challenge to dramatize on film. I know my theater audience will understand what I’m going for. I made it for very little money because I wanted to keep it true to its original form.

Adobe Creative VRP

I have reviewed, and I am happy to discuss when you would like.
For some context, here is a mini-VRP on Adore Creative:
Adore Creative
[In their own words]
Adore Creative is an award winning advertising agency and production company driven by the desire to win and the power of soul. Our mission is as simple as it is potent: to make the world Adore you. Everyone talks about branding. We believe in soul. We dive beneath the surface of your brand to understand its DNA, its essence, to capture and communicate the power of its soul. This is why our clients consistently win in the global marketplace.
Recent projects include:
– FIFA World Cup, Russia 2018 (Bid Films)
– Sochi Winter Olympics, 2014 (Bid Film)
– FINA World Aquatics Championships (Bid Films)
– World Skills Kazan 2019 (Bid Films)
– Team USA Luge (2015 Post-Sochi Promotional Film)
– Team USA Ski and Snowboard Association (2015/16 TVC Campaign)
– “Dunk Driver” PSA for U.S. DOT (TVC)
– Baku European Games (Bid Film)
– “Rapper’s Delight” TVC for Sprite
– “What Is Innovation” brand film for Skolkovo Technology Center
8033 Sunset Blvd, Suite 5750, Los Angeles, CA 90046  |  310.278.8342
Size: 11 – 50
Founded: 2007
Facebook (5,285 likes):
In the Media:
Rupert Wainwright And Adore Creative: The Art of Advertising  |  Variety411

Rupert Wainwright can direct a convincing, heart-felt story able to capture the attention of the most hardened judges in three minutes or less. The president and chief creative director at Adore Creative, an advertising agency with offices in London, Paris, Moscow, Sao Paolo, New York and Los Angeles, works with a talented staff and top tier production professionals to create advertising campaigns and short movies for clients ranging from Rebook, Doritos, Sony Pictures, and the country of Russia – specifically Russia’s bid for the 2013 Summer Universiade, the 2018 World Cup, and the campaign that resulted in their hosting the recent 2014 Winter Olympics.

“With Russia we knew not all members of the audience understood the personality of the country,” said Wainwright. “We wanted to make a story that would raise awareness and change the perception of people’s common misconceptions.”

For the 2014 Winter Olympics, Russia was bidding against a number of countries eager to host the Olympic Games. To win this bid, Wainwright had to blend the creative direction presented by the Russian government with his own artistic interpretation. Ultimately, Wainwright’s winning campaign, “Russia: The Door is Open”, presented a fluid shot that swings the doors of the Kremlin open (ceremonial doors that have never previously been opened to the public) and seamlessly ushers the viewer through eight Russian environments. A set of “doors” opens as the camera continues its journey to each new setting, presenting an inviting, elegant, fashionable and most importantly engaging environment.

Crafting a compelling story is a skill Wainwright refined earlier in his career. He made an impact directing music videos in the 80s for artists including M.C. Hammer and N.W.A. In the 90s he transitioned into television and film directing, with credits that include “Stigmata” and the 2005 remake of “The Fog.” His evolution continued with the transition into documentaries and advertising.

“It’s another layer of work for the brain to be involved with,” said Wainwright. “You’re taking one vision of a brand and exposing it to the world. It flexes a different muscle because you are trying to present a gripping story and sell something at the same time.”

Adore Creative receives jobs through advertising agencies or through clients directly. Advertising agencies generally have a direction for the campaign clearly drafted prior to approaching Adore. While some clients also have a strong direction in mind, Wainwright enjoys having the opportunity to create a marketing pitch. Campaigns can include a thirty second commercial spot or a three to five minute promotional short film and other promotions that fit the client’s needs. Wainwright recognizes most customers have an easier time describing what they don’t want, and works off these points to create a compelling script that will bring the needs of the advertisement to life.

While all film projects fall under a well defined budget, advertising budgets present a different challenge. The clients expect the deliverables for a set rate and timeline. There is no room for weather delays or equipment malfunctions. Utilizing his production knowledge and his creative instinct, Wainwright has found ways to rise to the challenges that keep projects running smooth, in budget, and exceeding the expectations of the client. During a Reebok campaign where the parameters of the concept were purposefully loosely defined, Wainwright was shooting a commercial that featured comedian Sinbad interacting with basketball players on a court. Wainwright noticed his banter with the players was lively and engaging between takes, however the material presented on camera was dry and less powerful. Aware of this discrepancy, Wainwright devised a plan that resulted in the campaign winning a Grand Effie – a marketing communications award presented by Effie Worldwide, Inc.

“We wired him with a radio mike that was constantly recording, so we captured everything he said in addition to his on camera recording. We had a great repository to choose from,” said Wainwright. “We cut the spot like a radio play, laying down the audio and finding the right images to fit it. We were contracted to do one spot, but the agency liked it so much we cut four spots at the end.”

While the staff at Adore Creative excel at creating concepts and preparing scripts, Wainwright credits the exceptional department heads he’s worked with in bringing the spot’s vision to life. Robert Gantz (Mesrine I and II), Roman Vasianof (End of Watch, Fury), and Shane Hurlbut (Need for Speed, Act of Valor) are a sampling of the cinematographers who have shot alongside Wainwright on recent campaigns

Up next for Adore Creative: creating a campaign for Oculus Rift. Oculus Rift is a new virtual reality headset with advanced stereoscopic 3D technology that provides the user with a seamless vision of the virtual reality world they are engaged with.

“I’m very interested in creating live action programs that are completely immersive, it’s a brand new experience,” said Wainwright.

Katie Couric Media VRP


Katie Couric Media develops and produces multi-platform content, including scripted shows, web series and documentaries. Katie Couric Media projects include: the National Geographic documentary Gender Revolution; the upcoming movie Flint with Craig Zadan and Neil Meron about the drinking water contamination in Flint, Michigan; and CBS’ new untitled drama pilot from writer Jenny Lumet, currently in production. Katie Couric Media also produces the Katie Couric podcast, a 2016 Apple “Favorite,” from Stitcher, which features the journalist in candid, unscripted conversations about American life and politics; Katie Couric is the executive producer of the documentaries Fed Up (2014) and Under the Gun (2016), both of which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.

205 E. 42nd St. New York, NY 10017

Size: 1 – 10


Katie Couric Facebook (647K likes):
Katie Couric Twitter (1.78M followers):
Scraps (TV) 2018
Flint (TV) 2017
Untitled Jenny Lumet Project (TV) 2017
Gender Revolution (TV) 2017
Under the Gun 2016
Fed Up 2014
Katie (TV) 2012 – 2014

In the Media:
National Geographic Greenlights Global Documentary Series from Award-Winning Journalist Katie Couric  |  Press Release via Business Wire  |  April 20, 2017
National Geographic announced today the greenlight of a six-part documentary series featuring Katie Couric, produced by Katie Couric Media with National Geographic Studios. Inspired by her own personal journey of making National Geographic’s critically acclaimed, groundbreaking documentary Gender Revolution (2017), the new untitled series will follow Couric as she talks with thought leaders who are shaping the most pivotal, contentious and oftentimes confusing topics across the globe today. The boundary-pushing series will premiere in 2018 on National Geographic in 171 countries and 45 languages.

“We could not be more proud to partner with Katie and her talented production team once again to tell the countless untold stories that help shape and define our nation’s identity,” said Courteney Monroe, CEO, National Geographic Global Networks. “What we accomplished together with Katie on Gender Revolution was tremendous, and we look forward to expanding that work into a series that will explore some of the most important issues that shape our world today.”

“Right now, we’re undergoing massive, transformational change in almost every area of our lives; change that can be dizzying and scary,” said Couric. “While we’re inundated with information virtually every minute, I’m excited to step back, connect the dots and look at the big picture so we can better understand the world we live in and our place in it. And I couldn’t be more excited to have National Geographic as my partner on this journey.”

FYI Partners With Sur La Table on Culinary Series With Katie Couric Producing  |  Variety  |  April 18, 2017
FYI is joining forces with Sur La Table for a new culinary series called “Scraps” that will be executive produced by Katie Couric, Variety has learned.

The series will follow national Sur La Table Chef Joel Gamoran as he travels across the U.S. creating incredible feasts in unexpected places, using food waste and scraps, like banana peels and chicken bones. The network has ordered ten half-hour episodes that are slated to premiere beginning May 21 at 10:30pm.

“Food waste is such a huge problem in this country and more and more people want to do something about it,” said Couric. “I’m so excited for Chef Joel Gamoran to introduce viewers to wonderful places and delicious recipes using ingredients we never imagined could taste so good. Joel’s energy and enthusiasm are infectious.”

FYI and Sur La Table will also partner to offer ten online cooking classes, giving viewers the opportunity to learn more in depth techniques and incorporate scraps in their cooking. The cooking classes will be available for purchase on Sur La Table’s website after each episode of “Scraps” airs. Additionally, a sweepstakes will offer viewers the chance to win KitchenAid products and Sur La Table cooking classes.

“Scraps” is produced by Katie Couric Media and RAIN for FYI. The show’s digital format was developed by production partner RAIN, a NY-based digital consultancy. Timothy Whitney and Brian Edelman are executive producers for RAIN. Gena McCarthy and Jordan Harman serve as executive producers for FYI.

Storyline Entertainment VRP

In their own words:
Craig Zadan and Neil Meron’s feature film, television, and theater productions have earned a total of six Academy Awards, five Golden Globes, 14 Emmy Awards, two Peabody Awards, a Grammy Award, six GLAAD Awards, four NAACP Image Awards and two Tony Awards. After successfully producing the 85th Academy Awards, which garnered over 40 million viewers in the U.S. alone, they were invited back to produce the 86th Academy Awards, which boasted a U.S. viewership of 45.4 million, making it the most watched Academy Awards since 2000. In 2015, Zadan and Meron produced the 87th Academy Awards, making them the first executive producers in sixteen years to have produced three consecutive Oscar broadcasts.

Other recent projects include executive producing the critically acclaimed NBC production of “The Wiz Live!,” and executive producing 2013’s hugely successful, live, three-hour NBC presentation of “The Sound of Music Live!” starring Grammy winner Carrie Underwood as Maria. The landmark broadcast drew a record-breaking 21.3 million viewers, giving the network its highest ratings in seven years and the first live network musical broadcast since the 1950s. In 2014 they produced the second live musical for NBC, a broadcast of the classic musical “Peter Pan.” Zadan and Meron also produced a four-hour miniseries telling the true story of “Bonnie & Clyde,” directed by multiple Oscar-nominee Bruce Beresford, starring Emile Hirsch, Holliday Grainger, and Oscar winners William Hurt and Holly Hunter. The program was also a milestone broadcast, marking the first prime-time scripted show to air simultaneously on three separate networks: A+E, History and Lifetime.

Zadan and Meron’s motion pictures include: “Hairspray,” “The Bucket List,” “Footloose,” and the Oscar-winning Best Picture, “Chicago.” Their television projects, which have accrued 120 Emmy nominations, include: “Gypsy,” “Cinderella,” “Annie,” “The Music Man,” “Life With Judy Garland,” “Martin & Lewis,” “Serving In Silence,” “The Beach Boys,” “Brian’s Song,” “The Three Stooges,” “The Reagans,” “A Raisin In The Sun,” the Golden Globe-nominated TV series “Smash” and the hit series “Drop Dead Diva”. Their latest critically acclaimed television movie was a contemporary version of “Steel Magnolias” starring Queen Latifah.

On Broadway, they produced the Tony-winning “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” starring Daniel Radcliffe and John Larroquette, and the Tony-winning “Promises, Promises” starring Sean Hayes and Kristin Chenoweth. Zadan and Meron recently signed a deal with the Shubert Organization to develop and produce new plays and musicals for the stage. They also produced a concert version of “Bombshell,” the fictional musical from their series “Smash,” as a charity benefit for The Actors Fund.

Upcoming projects include collaborating with Emmy Award-winning writer Aaron Sorkin for NBC’s forthcoming broadcast of “A Few Good Men Live!”; producing “Pippin” for The Weinstein Company; “Monster High,” based on the billion dollar Mattel franchise, for Universal Pictures; and “In Sight,” a psychological thriller starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt for Universal Pictures.

8335 Sunset Blvd, Ste 207, West Hollywood, CA 90069  |  323.337.9045

Executive Producers: Neil Meron, Craig Zadan
VP, TV Development: Mark Nicholson
SVP, TV Development and Production: Tasha Brown


Cotton Club (TV)

Flint (TV)
Sing You Home
The Body Institute (TV)
The P Word (TV)
Untitled Beach Boys Project
Untitled Jon Stamos Project (TV)
Hairspray Live! (TV) 2016
Peter Pan Live! (TV) 2014
Drop Dead Diva (TV) 2009 – 2014
Bonnie & Clyde (TV) 2013
The Sound of Music Live! (TV) 2013
Steel Magnolias (TV) 2012
Blue Lagoon: The Awakening (TV) 2012
20 to 1 (TV) 2009
Back (TV) 2009
Living Proof (TV) 2008
A Raisin in the Sun (TV) 2008
Family Man (TV) 2008
The Bucket List 2007
Hairspray 2007
Wedding Wars (TV) 2006
Empire (TV Mini-series) 2005
Suburban Madness (TV) 2004
It’s All Relative (TV) 2003 – 2004
The Reagans (TV) 2003
Lucy (TV) 2003
The Music Man (TV) 2003
Veritas: The Quest (TV) 2003
Martin and Lewis (TV) 2002
Chicago 2002
Brian’s Song (TV) 2001
What Makes a Family (TV) 2001
Life With Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows (TV) 2001
The Three Stooges (TV Movie) 2000
The Beach Boys: An American Family (TV) 2000
The Wonderful World of Disney (TV) 1997 – 1999
Double Platinum (TV) 1999
The Assassination File (TV) 1996
My Fellow Americans 1996

In the Media:
Craig Zadan, Neil Meron Developing Musical Event Series at Fox About Harlem’s Cotton Club  |  Variety  |  February 28, 2017
Fox is developing an event series about the Cotton Club, the hottest club in Harlem in the roaring ‘20s, Variety has learned.

Titled “Cotton Club,” the sexy, soapy music series is about the club and the interconnected lives of the black entertainers who performed there and the white gangsters who ran it.

The project hails from an A-list team. Ayanna Floyd is writer and showrunner, and will serve as executive producer with live event honchos Craig Zadan and Neil Meron. Broadway vet Kenny Leon will serve as director and executive producer, and former “X Factor” judge L.A. Reid is executive music supervisor and EP.

Sony Pictures Television and Storyline Entertainment are behind the event series, which is in early development at the script phase. Mark Nicholson, John Rice, and Joe Batteer are also co-executive producers.

“Cotton Club” follows in the footsteps of Fox’s other musical programming, including “Grease: Live” and “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”

The event series is not the first screen treatment for the Cotton Club. Richard Gere starred in Francis Ford Coppola’s feature film about the jazz club in 1984.

For Zadan and Meron, the project is one of many music-based events the duo has produced, following NBC’s live musicals “Sound of Music,” “Peter Pan,” “The Wiz,” “Hairspray,” and the upcoming “Bye Bye Birdie.” The pair has also produced the Academy Awards three times.

Floyd is already in business with Fox, as a co-executive producer on “Empire.” She was also a longtime producer on ABC’s “Private Practice,” and her other credits include NBC’s “Hannibal” and TNT’s “Falling Skies.” She is repped by ICM, Rain Management, and Erik Hyman.

CAA reps Zadan, Meron, Storyline Entertainment, Leon, and Reid.

Queen Latifah, Betsy Brandt, Jill Scott & Marin Ireland To Star In Flint Water Crisis Movie  |  Deadline  |  April 13, 2017
Queen Latifah (Star), Betsy Brandt (Life In Pieces, Breaking Bad), Jill Scott and Marin Ireland (Sneaky Pete) are set to headline Flint, Lifetime’s original movie about the water-contamination crisis in Flint, MI, from Sony Pictures TV. Queen Latifah also will serve as an executive producer on the project alongside Craig Zadan, Neil Meron and Katie Couric, reuniting with Zadan & Meron, Lifetime and Sony TV after collaborating on Steel Magnolias, the third most-watched original telecast ever in the network’s history.

Directed by Bruce Beresford from a script by Barbara Stepansky, Flint was inspired by the Time magazine cover story, “The Toxic Tap,” by Josh Sanburn. It follows the true story of three women from Flint who sought justice following the wrongdoing committed against the residents of the city who were unknowingly drinking and using lead-laden water. Their actions inspired a national movement for safe drinking water despite the political powers working against them at every turn. Brandt, Scott and Ireland will play real-life activists and Latifah will play a fourth resident, fighting to expose the poisoning of the community during the horrific events of the water crisis.

Flint begins production next week in Toronto.

Zadan and Meron of Storyline Entertainment and Couric executive produce alongside Queen Latifah and Shakim Compere via their Flavor Unit. Storyline’s Mark Nicholson serves as co-executive producer.

Breaking Bad alumna Brandt, now one of the stars of the CBS comedy series Life In Pieces, is repped by TalentWorks, Patty Woo management and attorney John Moonves.

Funny or Die VRP


Funny or Die is a comedy video website and film/TV production company founded by Will Ferrell, Adam McKay and Chris Henchy. The website Funny Or Die contains exclusive material from a regular staff of in-house writers, producers, and directors, and occasionally from a number of famous contributors like Judd Apatow, James Franco, and Norm Macdonald. The production company makes TV shows like truTV’s Billy on the Street, Comedy Central‘s @midnight, and Zach Galifianakis’s popular Emmy-winning web series Between Two Ferns.

Many videos on the site feature well-known actors (examples include Steve Carell, Charlie Sheen, Ryan Gosling, Patrick Stewart, Daniel Radcliffe, Sophia Bush, Mila Kunis, AnnaSophia Robb, Hilary Duff, Adam West, James Van Der Beek, Jim Carrey, Ariel Winter, and Selena Gomez). Michael Kvamme, an aspiring young comedian, came up with a concept for a new kind of comedy site; and the site was developed by Randy Adams.
Funny Or Die launched on April 12, 2007 with the site’s first video, “The Landlord”. “The Landlord” has received over 84 million views and features Ferrell confronted by a swearing, beer-drinking two-year-old landlord. In June 2007, they received venture capital funding from Sequoia Capital, and in June 2008, they announced a partnership with HBO. On August 3, 2016, Funny or Die shut-down one of its California offices, reducing its headcount by 30% to 95 employees, with the announcement coming just two month after the new CEO, Mike Farah, took office.
1041 N. Formosa Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90046


Founded: 2007
Company Size: 51 – 200
CEO: Mike Farah
YouTube: (2M subscribers)
Twitter: (14.2M followers)
Facebook: (14.8M likes)
Partial Filmography:
Brockmire (TV) 2017
Throwing Shade (TV) 2017
Tales of Titans (TV) 2017
The Earliest Show (TV) 2016
Our Fascinating Planet (TV) 2016
Tween Fest (TV) 2016
Ferrell Takes the Field (TV) 2015
The Chris Gethard Show (TV) 2015
The Spoils Before Dying (TV) 2015
What We Do in the Shadows 2014
Gay of Thrones (TV) 2014
The Spoils of Babylon (TV) 2014
@midnight (TV) 2013 – 2017
Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie 2012
Billy on the Street (TV) 2011 – 2016
[100s – 1000s of additional credits]
In the Media:
Funny or Die Alive and Kicking After 10 Years of Comedy  |  Variety  |  April 12, 2017
When you call your company Funny or Die, it’s an irresistible invitation for wags to look for the moment to declare your outfit deceased. But 10 years after Will Ferrell, Adam McKay, and Chris Henchy put their heads together to launch a comedy website, FOD is alive and well.The enterprise has grown into an established purveyor of au courant humor that continues to attract top talent in the cutthroat comedy space. After catching wind in its sails with celeb-driven viral videos in its early years, the L.A.-based company has branched out into more lucrative TV deals and last fall banked an investment from AMC Networks. Funny or Die also has built units dedicated to branded entertainment and production of commercials.

And it has leveraged its comedy cachet to book guests any media outlet would die for: President Obama appeared on FOD’s archly awkward talk show “Between Two Ferns With Zach Galifianakis.”

“They were the first to get highly respected Academy Award winners to make comedy for the internet, get White House access for a comedian to talk policy with the president, and are now producing multiple half-hour cable series,” says Marc Lieberman, The Onion’s former head of business development who now holds the same position as a senior VP at Above Average, the digital comedy studio founded by Lorne Michael’s Broadway Video. “I’d say that’s a nice first decade for a digital upstart in the ever-changing media industry.”

Creatively, Funny or Die’s DNA remains skewed to digital. The company claims to have a worldwide internet audience of more than 70 million, with over 14 million followers on both Facebook and Twitter. The daily sketches and videos are the lifeblood of FOD, says CEO Mike Farah: “What we can do every single day is use our comedy voice to differentiate ourselves from everyone else who is commenting on our world.”

From a revenue standpoint, however, FOD looks increasingly like a TV production house. Its original series include TruTV’s “Billy on the Street,” hosted by comic Billy Eichner; Comedy Central’s “@midnight” with Chris Hardwick; Fusion’s “The Chris Gethard Show”; and IFC’s “Brockmire,” starring Hank Azaria as a disgraced minor-league baseball announcer, which premiered April 5 (and was renewed for season 2 ahead of the show’s debut).

Funny or Die also recently inked a straight-to-series deal with Hulu for a half-hour talk show hosted by Sarah Silverman (working title: “I Love You, America”). Now the company is mulling the development of more movies after last year’s digital release of “The Art of the Deal,” which starred Johnny Depp in a delicious parody of an ’80s-era Donald Trump.

“I love that somebody can grow with us, then go off somewhere else and make something great; that tells me we’re on the right track and working with the right people.”

Meanwhile, FOD has produced more than 275 branded-content campaigns for advertisers, another important contributor to its bottom line. Brands have included Cap’n Crunch, Slim Jim, Chevy, American Eagle, the Los Angeles Clippers, Ford, Nike, Samsung, and Verizon.

But Farah says Funny or Die has the potential to be much more, noting that someday it may launch its own direct-to-consumer subscription video service (which has become all the rage lately).

“We don’t want to just become a production company,” he says. “It sounds lofty, but I want Funny or Die to be the company that makes the best comedy in the world. My job now is, how do we position and leverage everything we’re doing for where we can really take this thing 10 years from now.”

Along the way, Funny or Die has gone through its share of growing pains. Last year it laid off about 30% of its staff, with most of the 37 jobs cut from its Silicon Valley outpost that had been developing stand-alone apps (like a joke-based weather app) that never caught fire. Funny or Die also largely consolidated its creative team in L.A., shutting down the New York office in early January and relocating 10 employees to the West Coast. (“Next year, we’re all moving to Portland,” quips Dan Abramson, Funny or Die’s editor-in-chief, who led the New York creative office.)

Notes Farah, “There was a lot of rebuilding we had to do last year. We had to get back to our roots a little bit.”

Farah, 38, was an early FOD hire who joined in the summer of 2008, eventually becoming president of production. He assumed the CEO post in May 2016, taking over for Dick Glover, who exited the company in 2015 to join Mandalay Sports Media.

Even with the reorganization — and ongoing attrition in its lower ranks — Funny or Die’s leadership team has been stable over the years. That includes creative director Andrew Steele, previously a head writer at “Saturday Night Live”; Chris Bruss, president of digital content, who joined from FOD founding investor CAA; and VP of longform content Joe Farrell, who started as Farah’s assistant in 2010. (“I was Hollywood’s oldest intern,” he says.)

Funny or Die’s principals, including Ferrell, McKay, Henchy, and Judd Apatow, remain actively involved to varying degrees with the company. McKay says that with the investments in TV projects and other creative initiatives, “we’ll be happy if this company, for the next year, is breaking even.”

A decade ago, the founders were skeptical that Funny or Die could become a significant business. “The ambition was very humble and low; it was just a fun place for us to do skits,” McKay says. The core team had connected with Michael Kvamme, a comedy fan and aspiring standup comedian whose father, Mark, was then a principal with venture-capital firm Sequoia Capital. The initial funding to launch FOD was around $50,000, according to McKay.

Then on April 12, 2007, the fledgling site posted “The Landlord” — a two-minute clip starring Ferrell as a guy behind in his rent, and McKay’s daughter, Pearl (who was 20 months old at the time), as the foul-mouthed property owner coming to collect. It popped epically and is still Funny or Die’s top video, with 85 million views to date. After the viral success of “Landlord,” Sequoia led a $15 million funding round, and FOD shifted from a skunkworks operation to a real business.

But even then there were naysayers about whether the site would have legs, says Michael Yanover, CAA’s head of business development, who oversees CAA Ventures. “People rolled their eyes. They thought, ‘Oh, it’s another vanity project.’”

Digital content head Bruss concedes that in this day and age a digital-media startup would not launch itself as a website. “You wouldn’t start today,” he says. “You would be a YouTube channel, or a Facebook page. We still do have millions of people who go to the site. But we really have to be thoughtful about distribution to platforms as they are evolving.”

Funny or Die faces a slew of rivals, both online and on TV. Those include “SNL,” Comedy Central, CollegeHumor, The Onion, BuzzFeed, and late-night hosts like Jimmy Fallon and Samantha Bee — not to mention dozens of creators on YouTube and Facebook who’ve carved out comedy niches for themselves. Then there’s Netflix, which has bought a bunch of stand-up specials.

CAA’s Yanover says with its minimal bureaucratic overhead, Funny or Die is well positioned to pump its comedy into any number of formats and platforms. “Most companies do not have that dexterity,” he says. “That’s a huge advantage.”

The challenge for Funny or Die at this stage is staying focused on its brand of humor while continuing to evolve, says Henchy, one of the principals at Gary Sanchez Prods. with Ferrell and McKay. Adding to the degree of difficulty: FOD’s most promising writers and producers have been getting poached to work elsewhere. “But it’s been that way [in comedy] since the ‘I Love Lucy’ days,” Henchy points out. “I love that somebody can grow with us, then go off somewhere else and make something great; that tells me we’re on the right track and working with the right people.”

AMC Networks is betting on Funny or Die’s cross-platform content flywheel being a success, both for shows on its comedy-centric IFC network and elsewhere.

“We invested in the business, and the entire portfolio of Funny or Die,” says IFC president Jennifer Caserta. “They’re going to work with a lot of partners, but there’s also a lot we’ll do together.”

Terms of the cable programmer’s 2016 minority investment in FOD — which had been shopping itself to prospective buyers a few years ago — weren’t disclosed. But the agreement includes certain provisions under which AMC may be obligated to increase its investment over time, according to regulatory filings.

The digital-fueled deal provides a more accelerated process for longer-form projects to come to fruition, according to Farrell. “Will and Adam always wanted this to be a place where celebrities and fans of comedy could come to make content quickly,” he says. “TV shows take a year to come out. Our pitch is, come down on a Tuesday and you’ll see it Thursday.”

Says McKay, “It’s still kind of a clubhouse where you can do crazy shit and make a movie with Johnny Depp in four days.”

Still, the TV adaption of “Brockmire” was hardly a fast-turnaround project. Based on the loser sportscaster character Azaria created for a 2010 Funny or Die video, a feature-length movie had been planned before financing fell through. IFC picked up the project as an eight-episode series, which co-stars Amanda Peet and Tyrel Jackson Williams. It was shot over 22 days last summer in Macon, Ga., and Atlanta.

“I didn’t have to bring it back to Funny or Die,” Azaria says. “But what they lacked in experience, they made up for in good taste, smarts, earnestness, and transparency. Their sensibility was good. Creatively, I trusted them.”

Farah said the deal with AMC has allowed Funny or Die to stay independent while giving it an infusion of cash. Five years ago, FOD entered into a deal with Turner (which also invested in the startup) to handle digital ad sales on behalf of Funny or Die. Farah learned something from that experience: “You need to have your own sales team that is hustling for one thing only.” The AMC deal, he notes, doesn’t include an ad-sales relationship.

As for what Funny or Die will look like 10 years from now, Farah says he has no idea. “I don’t know when this content bubble will end, but I don’t know how this can really sustain itself forever,” says the Michigan native, who moved to L.A. in 2001. “With your phone and Facebook Live, Snapchat, — you can turn yourself into your own network. Anyone who says they’ve figured it out, I don’t buy it.”