EXCLUSIVE: UTA has signed of award-winning producer Kenn Viselman for worldwide representation in all areas. Viselman has driven more than $20 billion in commercial success.
UTA will also rep the relaunch of Viselman’s itsy bitsy Entertainment Company banner. That effort will begin with the animated series Moonzy and the animated family series BlackJack, based on Alex Simmons’ acclaimed series of graphic novels.
Viselman has produced, marketed and consulted on more than 50 children’s series. He was a producing partner on the franchises Teletubbies and It’s itsy bitsy Time!. He led marketing for Thomas the Tank Engine, which continues to air in more than 300 countries. He reassembled many of his former Teletubbies production team members, including Graham Halky, Emilia Nuccio and Marcio França Domingues, for the relaunch of itsy bitsy Entertainment. Maresa Pullman, Brooklyn Weaver, and Brandan McConnaughhay are also attached to produce original content with Viselman.Related Story Samantha Kirby Yoh Joins UTA As Music Co-Head
“UTA is the market leader in representing the most prominent creators and producers in animation,” said Anna Berthold, Viselman’s agent. “Kenn is a creative force with a proven track record of projects that have become mainstays in the hearts of kids and families around the world. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to work with him as he relaunches his brand.”
Said Viselman: “To relaunch a brand in these trying times, especially one that has been as successful as the itsy bitsy Entertainment Company, requires a smart and experienced team with chutzpah. This relaunch is compounded by both the demand and massive importance of our first two projects: Moonzy, an adaptation of one of the most watched children’s series in history; and BlackJack, one of the most socio-relevant family series in modern memory. I feel confident that I have found exactly what I need in the group of professionals at UTA.”
Moonzy has 9.3 billion views on YouTube — more than the official pages for Disney, Nickelodeon and PBS Kids combined. The program is the No. 1 children’s animated series in every country in which it airs, and the brand has sold over 20 million books in Europe. The series is being adapted for the Americas under Viselman’s leadership and in partnership with itsy bitsy Entertainment, INK Media, Melnitsa Animation Studio, the series’ award-winning producers Sergei Selyanov and Alexander Boyarskiy, and its art director, two-time Academy Award nominee Konstantin Bronzit. The first season of Moonzy will consist of 108 existing episodes and three holiday-themed “Mini-Movies.” The second season is already in production.
BlackJack is based on the multi-Glyph Award-winning series of graphic novels by Alex Simmons, which he has been self-publishing for nearly 30 years. The first BlackJack novel was published in 1996 and has resulted in more than a dozen BlackJack stories. Based in the 1930s, the animated series adaptation will focus on the graphic novels’ protagonist Aaron Day, aka “BlackJack,” an African-American mercenary battling powerful enemies, the ghosts of his past and the bigotry of his times.
Viselman and itsy bitsy Entertainment join a roster of industry leaders represented by UTA’s animation division, including Chris Nee, Brad Bird, Andrew Stanton, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, Justin Roiland, Elizabeth Ito, Frank E. Abney III, Malala Yousafzai, The Jim Henson Company and many others.
Viselman continues to be represented by Anne Jordan of the Jordan Group.
Viselman’s itsy bitsy Entertainment is one of the world’s most successful independent children’s entertainment companies. His brands have found success on and off the screen including award-winning television series as well as top-selling toys, books, videos, clothing and numerous other ancillary products. The itsy bitsy Entertainment Company is committed to engaging, entertaining, enlightening family entertainment which emphasizes the message of empathy and love.
EXCLUSIVE: Norwegian filmmaker Eva Sorhaug (90 Minutes) has been set to direct feature thriller Edge Of Normal, based on the novel by Carla Norton.
XYZ Films (Mandy) is set to produce alongside Industry Entertainment (Messiah), with XYZ also handling world sales. The film will be produced in association with Bold Films (Whiplash), which made a splash this week with Netflix acquisition The Guilty. The book has been adapted by Matt Venne and Lori Evans Taylor.
The film follows a woman named Reeve LeClaire who has managed to piece together a normal life as an adult, but remains haunted by memories of being held captive by a sadistic man in her teens. When her psychiatrist asks Reeve to mentor another young survivor, she finds herself in a deadly game of cat-and-mouse with a more powerful force.Related Story Isaiah Washington To Mark Feature Directorial Debut With 'Corsicana' Western
Sorhaug’s 2012 feature drama 90 Minutes debuted at the Toronto Film Festival. Her TV credits as director include Netflix series Occupied, Starz show American Gods, Hulu’s Reprisal and hit Danish series Witch Hunt. She is currently directing episodes of Showtime series Your Honor.
Industry Entertainment recently produced two projects for Netflix: Messiah and Love Guaranteed. Bold will soon begin production on Antoine Fuqua’s The Guilty with Jake Gyllenhaal after Netflix splashed on it for $30M. Previous credits include Nightcrawler, Drive and Colette.
Venne’s credits include Stephen King adaptation Bag of Bones for A&E and he recently wrote an installment of the Creepshow reboot for Greg Nicotero. XYZ is in post-production on Stowaway starring Anna Kendrick and Toni Collette.
True-crime writer Norton’s book Perfect Victim spent four weeks at number one on the New York Times Best Seller list. She also penned the true-crime book Disturbed Ground. Edge of Normal was her first fictional novel, which was followed by the sequel What Doesn’t Kill Her.
Sørhaug is represented by WME, Industry Entertainment, and attorney Ryan Nord. Venne and Norton are represented by APA. Lori Evans Taylor is represented by ICM, Kaplan Peronne Entertainment, and attorney McKuin Frankel Whitehead LLP.
The Chapel piloted a socially distanced, outdoor concert in its parking lot on Aug. 15. A new program allows other San Francisco venues to throw similar events in the city’s permitted Shared Spaces. (BG)
San Francisco’s live music scene has technically been on pause since the start of shelter-in-place orders in March, but unofficial concerts and DJ sets have popped up all over the city in parks, beaches and street corners.
Over the past several weeks, musicians, theater artists and event presenters have asked local government to allow for socially distanced, outdoor performances, arguing that regulated shows would be safer than guerilla-style ones with no rules or guidelines. Not to mention it would provide an economic boost for an industry that’s completely ground to a halt during the pandemic, during which many artists and businesses haven’t qualified for government aid.
Today, Mayor London Breed’s office announced a new permit through the Entertainment Commission that aims to allow live, outdoor music and entertainment on a small scale. The JAM (Just Add Music) permit offers businesses a way to book DJs, live music (without singing or wind instruments), dance, theater, comedy or film screenings with amplified sound in the city’s existing Shared Spaces locations. Those include outdoor dining areas, farmers’ markets, outdoor fitness classes and drive-in theaters that operate in accordance to the city’s social distancing rules, mask mandate and other public health guidelines.
The new permit, whose application is now live, marks the first time San Francisco is formally incorporating live entertainment into the current phase of its reopening plan. With the free permit, restaurants can book DJs in their patios and parklets while avoiding the fees and lengthy, bureaucratic process they would have had to undertake to allow ongoing entertainment or one-time special events before COVID-19. And, perhaps more crucially, music venues and theaters whose income streams have halted now have a pathway to resuming live events.
For a music venue to participate, it must be enrolled in the city’s Shared Spaces program—which opens parklets, sidewalks, parking lots and city streets for socially distanced, outdoor dining—or have access to private property like a patio or rooftop. (The venue must also have a kitchen or partnership with a neighboring restaurant.) Once those requirements are met, the venue can put on a ticketed event under two hours long, as long as food is served.
“[The entertainment industry] is not just an afterthought. We can’t be. We have to be part of this right now,” says San Francisco Entertainment Commission Executive Director Maggie Weiland. The JAM permit arrives after the latest wave of reopenings in San Francisco, which allowed indoor hair salons, gyms, museums (with limited capacity) and drive-in movie screenings to begin operating last week.
“I think our small, outdoor performances that will be permitted through this program, and in accordance with health rules, are different from large, indoor performances,” says Weiland. “Until now, those venues have only been contemplated in phase four of the reopening plan.” (Phase four would signal the end of shelter-in-place orders, and require the availability of COVID-19 therapeutics or a vaccine.)
In August, Fred Barnes, co-founder of advocacy group the Independent Venue Alliance, piloted a socially distanced, outdoor concert in the parking lot of Mission district concert venue The Chapel, where he is the general manager. The ticketed show featured only instrumental music. Masked diners at distanced tables listened to a band as food was served. For Barnes and his industry peers, the event’s success is a hopeful sign that safe concerts are possible, and that other businesses can follow suit.
“I think one of the things that was really important about that show we did was that a lot of people remarked afterwards that it was the safest spot in the Mission in terms of the public health ordinances really being controlled by security, with temperature taking and all the things that need to be done,” he says.
Deanna Sison, owner of the bar Victory Hall and adjoining restaurant Little Skillet, says that the opportunity to offer entertainment will be a boon for businesses like hers. Her street, near Oracle Park, has seen a complete drop off in foot traffic since baseball games aren’t currently open to fans. Through the Shared Spaces program, she has an entire alleyway to seat customers, and she hopes live music can entice them.
“We used to host neighborhood block parties,” she says. “In the future, we’re trying to bring back a version of that and doing that as safely as we possibly can.”
North Beach bar Vesuvio, open since 1948, plans to partner with a neighboring restaurant to operate a Shared Space with live music in the historic Jack Kerouac Alley. Owner Janet Clyde says the JAM permit offers an easier way of doing things for her business, which doesn’t have an entertainment license and previously had to obtain special event permits anytime it wanted to book live music. “Since we’re in the COVID times and our capacity is limited, it’s going to help us be sustainable in some fashion,” she says.
Clyde says that though Vesuvio has remained closed for the past six months, she’s committed to paying musicians. So is Aaron Paul, co-owner of Russian Hill cocktail bar and cafe Macondray, who says that even though his revenue is only 30% of what it used to be, artist compensation is one place where he can’t cut costs. “That’s really important and something I’m proud to be able to do,” he says, emphasizing the importance of live music. “It’s a quality thing. People know when they’re listening to a Spotify playlist.”
In addition to aiding small businesses in their economic recovery, the Entertainment Commission’s Weiland hopes the JAM program will also offer San Francisco spiritual nourishment, especially after the last few turbulent weeks of wildfire-induced smoke amid the pandemic.
“Music is medicine. Art, culture and entertainment are healing,” Weiland says. “And I think our collective community needs this.”
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