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Paramount, MTV, Logo Announce New DVD Studio

17 Oct, 2005 By: Thomas K. Arnold

Singing a whole new tune, Paramount Home Entertainment has linked with MTV Networks Music and Logo Enterprises to launch a new DVD studio that will leverage existing network talent to create a series of music-based dramas, comedies and documentaries.

The new studio will be jointly headed by Jeff Yapp, EVP of MTV Networks Music and Logo Enterprises, and Ellen Pittleman, SVP of worldwide acquisitions for Paramount Entertainment, which will distribute the films.

Yapp is a former president of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment and the Hollywood Entertainment Corp. video retail chain.

Pittleman has just been tapped to lead Paramount's new DVD Premiere department, formed to develop, produce and release six to eight direct-to-video film projects a year.

The new DVD studio will draw on four key cable channels under the MTV umbrella: MTV, VH1, CMT and Logo. It also will distribute films acquired with Paramount and develop original content. The studio also will seek to develop soundtracks to capitalize on the music-oriented flavor of the films.

Titles will be promoted on the air, chiefly on the core networks, as well as through online sites, wireless applications and outdoor platforms.

Rich Eigendorff, COO of MTV Networks Music Group and Logo, said the new DVD studio is bent on “shaking up the old model by creating and marketing content that has the full, multi-faceted support of the entire MTV Networks arsenal and leveraging that across all of our brands and platforms.”

The first DVD release under the MTV brand will be Rumble, a sports comedy starring Faizon Love (Animal) and pop star Ciara. The film follows two former rival high school volleyball squads that band together to reclaim a championship trophy; it is scheduled to be released on DVD in May 2006. The second release, from VHI, will be the 1980s throwback Totally Awesome, written by “Chappelle's Show” co-creator Neal Brennan and Michael Schur of “Saturday Night Live” fame. The film, which also marks Brennan's directorial debut, will star Dominique Swain, Mikey Day, Brittany Daniel, Joey Kern and James Hong, and feature special appearances by Tracy Morgan and other comics. No release date has yet been set for Totally Awesome, which just wrapped production. Other projects will be announced on future dates. The announcement of the new DVD studio comes just days after Paramount announced the formation of its DVD Premiere department, whose first volley of direct-to-video releases include a Mike Reiss comedy and a sequel to the hit theatrical film Save the Last Dance, the 2001 romantic drama that earned more than $91 million at the box office. Pittleman will oversee the group's production slate. The executive suite also includes Matt Bierman as VP of development, Jim Glander as VP of production, Stephanie Schroeder as VP of business affairs and legal, Scott Maziroff as VP of finance and John Wiseman as VP of postproduction.

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