Paramount TV: More Than 13 Reasons To Love Viacom’s Independent Production Studio

When Paramount Television (Viacom’s independent production studio) launched in 2013, the studio opted to produce an ambitious first project for Fox: Grease: Live. The live televised special was a remake of the classic 1978 film Grease, and incorporated songs from the original movie, as well as a live studio audience to simulate the effects of a Broadway performance.

The show was nominated for 10 Emmy Awards, and won five—more than any other televised musical in history. It was also the no. 1 most social live musical event ever. It was the most-watched program when it aired on Jan. 31, 2016, with over 12 million viewers tuning in to watch the impressive performance, which critics called “skillfully directed” and “true to the original.”

The most vital part of this production, according to reviews, was the production itself.

Grease Live wins at the 2016 Creative Arts Emmy Awards. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)

“Buoyed by tremendous camera work, fleet-footed choreography…and a sound mix that was fuller (or less tinny) than any comparable production that’s come before it, Grease built on the live (but not in front of a live audience) musicals championed by rival NBC over the last three years,” wrote Michael Slezak for TVLine.com.

How did a new production studio achieve such tremendous results from their first endeavor?

President of Paramount TV Amy Powell explains her strategy. “As content creators, we look for new and exciting opportunities that will appeal to audiences and find the right platform for our series,” said Powell. “We partner with top-notch talent and distributors that share in our vision and give creators the freedom to bring the content to life.”

By tapping Paramount’s rich content library and opening itself to collaborations with rival entertainment platforms, Paramount TV is a shining example of media industry synergy. The studio believes that partnerships are key—creating top-tier entertainment is a result of having the best ideas, and if those ideas come from external individuals or companies, it’s imperative to find a way to bring them together. Paramount TV is making this happen.

The studio’s original goal was to create one drama and two on-air comedies in three years. It easily surpassed that, creating a constellation of content that includes the Emmy Award-winning television musical special Grease: Live, Nickelodeon’s Emmy-nominated musical comedy School of Rock, EPIX’s critically acclaimed espionage drama series Berlin Station, USA Network’s hit series Shooter, Netflix’s teen drama 13 Reasons Why and the upcoming Amazon action drama Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan.

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Viacom President and CEO Bob Bakish Signs Open Letter From Leaders of American Industry Defending Dreamers

In 2012, the Obama administration passed a new policy called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). DACA, sometimes called the “Dreamers” program, protects eligible young immigrants from being deported. The “Dreamers” are kids who emigrated to the U.S. with their parents. Many moved here as young children or infants, and some did not even know they were not Americans until later in life.

DACA opened the door for these kids to legally apply for their first job, to get their driver’s license, attend college and ultimately join the workforce as adults, contributing to the American economy.

Now, there is a movement in Washington to end this policy. If this happens, the lives of nearly 800,000 young Americans will be irrevocably altered. By March, they’ll be at risk of being forced to leave everything behind and move back to their native country—which many of these kids have no memory of.

On August 31, Viacom President and CEO Bob Bakish joined President Barack Obama, dozens of university presidents, and a multitude of CEOs from major American tech and media companies in signing an open letter to the government leaders expressing their concerns about the devastating effects changing the immigration policy would have on the Dreamers living productive and happy lives in America, as well as the severe consequences it would have for the economy.

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Viacom Brands Unite for Hurricane Relief Telethon On September 12

After Hurricane Harvey left Texas residents reeling from one of the most devastating storms in U.S. history, CMT teamed up with other broadcast networks to air a benefit telethon on Sept. 12.

Since then, Hurricane Irma decimated entire islands in the Caribbean and left millions of Florida residents without power. The affected areas are still in “rescue mode” according to The New York Times, meaning we don’t yet know the full extent of damage caused by this colossal storm, but experts agree it will be extensive.

Now, the telethon has expanded to aid the victims of Hurricane Irma. Hand In Hand: A Benefit For Hurricane Relief also expanded its broadcast scope. Viacom networks MTV and BET will now join CMT in airing the special.

“Silence is overrated,” tweeted CMT. “Sometimes, music is the only thing that can get your mind off everything else.”

The hour-long special aims to do just that—use music as a way to bring peace of mind to those affected by the hurricane. And with BET, MTV and other broadcast networks now airing the event, Hand in Hand can reach as many homes as possible. This means more opportunity for people to make personal donations to assist hurricane victims. The telethon is predicted to be one of the largest benefit concerts in history.

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Viacom Employee Sweepstakes Winner Georgiana Bell and Her Granddaughter Experience a Night of Black Girl Magic

Viacom employee Georgiana Bell got the chance to attend BET’s Black Girls Rock! 2017 live special, along with her 12-year old granddaughter Nasir. Her thrilling experience came courtesy of Viacom’s Employee Events & Programs department, which offers an employee sweepstakes for our tentpole award shows.

Congratulations! Can you tell us a bit about your role at Viacom?

I’m a Viacom receptionist as well as a freelance talent escort for many productions, award shows and other red carpet events. I’ve worked at Viacom for 24 years.

Were you familiar with Black Girls Rock!?

Yes. In past years I’ve watched the special and worked the event as an usher, but to enjoy it as an audience member is a totally different experience, one that was well-appreciated. The atmosphere was great from where we sat. It seemed as though everyone was engaged, attentive and enjoying what they were seeing!

Nasir at the ceremony:

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P!NK Will Get the Party Started As Video Vanguard Winner for the 2017 VMAs

Michael Jackson earned his title as King of Pop for his mosaic of entertainment talent and ingenuity—especially when it came to creating iconic music videos. With Thriller, Jackson introduced cinematography into music videos, turning what used to be simple live recordings into fully-fledged short films. The 13-minute video (which I performed in a summer camp talent show as a teenager, and still remember most of the moves) was MTV’s first world premiere.

Courtesy of GIPHY.

Jackson’s musical mosaic of R&B, rock, pop, jazz and funk coupled with a repertoire of iconic dance moves made him the benchmark for artistic excellence in the entertainment industry.   The Weeknd, Beyoncé, Mariah Carey and Justin Bieber are just some of today’s most prominent stars entertainers who cite Jackson as inspiration.

The MTV Video Music Awards pay credence to this legacy with the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award.

The award celebrates “forerunners in the music video sphere,” according to Slate.

“MTV is legitimately the definitive arbiter on such matters. And their track record with the Vanguard has reinforced their authority: The first recipients of the award, in 1984, were the Beatles and Richard Lester, for the trailblazing A Hard Day’s Night, and David Bowie, for his groundbreaking films from the late ’60s and ’70s.”

This year, pop star P!NK will receive the honor, joining the pantheon of esteemed winners from previous years. The gutsy songstress established a close relationship with MTV and the VMAs over the course of her 17-year career.

Watch some of P!NK’s greatest VMA moments:

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The Hero Returns: Watch New Episodes of Nathan For You Starting in September

On Sept. 28, television is about to get weird again, as Comedy Central’s absurdist docu-reality show Nathan For You returns.


The fourth season of the business improvement mockumentary series is expected to be wonkier than ever, and this is coming after episodes focused on an authentic exorcism, a shopping mall Santa Claus with a criminal record, and an electronics store that sells TV sets for a dollar—providing customers can walk past a live alligator to retrieve them.

Watch a compilation:

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5 Questions With VH1 Save The Music’s Henry Donahue

Over the last 20 years, the VH1 Save The Music Foundation has provided millions of dollars in funding to music education programs at more than 2,000 public schools across the U.S.

We recently talked with Henry Donahue, vice president and executive director of the Foundation, about the positive impact the organization is having on students’ lives and how it’s celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

Here’s what Donahue has to say about his work with VH1 Save The Music Foundation:

Created by Viacom Catalyst.

Meet Viacom’s Nine 2017 Cynopsis Rising Stars

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

They work in marketing, communications, programming, or gaming. They’re planted around the organization, helping to drive some of our most prominent networks and divisions: MTV, Nickelodeon, BET, CMT, TV Land, VH1, Logo, Viacom Velocity. And though some have been here for years, they’re all just getting started in promising careers. They are the nine young Viacom standouts who earned recognition as Cynopsis 2017 Rising Stars.

This year’s awards follow a strong 2016 showing for Viacom, when six employees across a variety of brands were acknowledged. The nine honorees this year are Kelly Andersen, Ned Berger, Katrina Bucu, Rachel Burns, Kassie Deng, Marisa Mazart, Brielle Urssery, Jacqueline Vinci and Alexandra Woog.

Cynopsis will honor these young standouts at a reception on September 15 in New York City. Here’s a bit more about how each of them is forging their career at Viacom:

KELLY ANDERSEN – MANAGER, COMMUNICATIONS FOR MTV, VH1 AND LOGO

What she does: My days tend to include writing press releases, communicating with media outlets and escorting network talent to press appearances.

Tenure: Six years

On being named a Cynopsis Rising Star:  My coworkers had secretly submitted me so I thought it was a spam email and I almost deleted it.

What helps her fit Cynopsis’ description of a rising star as someone who has “proven success in aligning strategic objectives with end goals?”: I’m passionate about the work we are doing at MTV, VH1 and Logo, and with so many exciting things coming down the line, organization is key. I like to write everything down and map out a timeline to reach publicity goals for each series.

What is the most exciting thing happening with her team right now?: We are all prepping for VMAs!

What she is most looking forward to about the awards reception: I have no idea what to expect so I am just happy to be there!


NED BERGER – DIRECTOR, CONSUMER MARKETING, NICKELODEON

What he does: I’m with the Consumer Marketing department at Nickelodeon where I’m responsible for marketing for our tentpole events, including overarching strategy, off-channel execution, influencer marketing, content partnerships, and innovation projects.

Tenure: Four years

On being named a Cynopsis Rising Star: I was thrilled to find out I would be receiving the award. To be recognized by my bosses and by Cynopsis for the work that I do is a real honor.  

What helps him fit Cynopsis’ description of a rising star as someone who has “proven success in aligning strategic objectives with end goals?”: A big part of my job is being a brand steward. Nickelodeon is an incredibly strong brand and I work to provide kids with creative and fun ways to experience the brand. Our tentpole events (like Kids’ Choice Awards) truly bring the Nick brand to life, and the marketing of those events brings together brand strategy, creative innovation, and business goals.

What is the most exciting thing happening with his team right now?: We are going to be part of the team working on The Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the newest version of our animated series. We’re all excited to work on such an iconic property and to be part of its reinvention for a new generation of fans.

What he is most looking forward to about the awards reception: I’m most looking forward to meeting bright talent from around the media and entertainment industries and forging new connections and relationships.


KATRINA BUCU – MANAGER, INTEGRATED MARKETING, VIACOM VELOCITY

What she does: I strategically develop and pitch multi-platform, integrated marketing programs across MTV, VH1 and Logo aligned to tentpoles, programming and editorial initiatives in order to drive advertising revenue.

Tenure: Since I graduated from college a little over five years ago. I like to say I’m Viacom born and raised.

On being named a Cynopsis Rising Star: It was such a great way to start the week on Monday morning and I immediately told my friends and family! I was honored that my team had nominated me for this award and it’s an amazing feeling to have your work recognized, not only by your team, but by the industry.

What helps her fit Cynopsis’ description of a rising star as someone who has “proven success in aligning strategic objectives with end goals?”: Key parts of Integrated Marketing include storytelling, negotiation and organization. In this role, I have been able to craft a marketing story that sells big ideas both internally and externally as the concepts need to match the objectives of the channel and brand to create an organic fit, building client relationships for key partners like Taco Bell, P&G and more.

What is the most exciting thing happening with her team right now?: The return of TRL! It was a key program during my teenage years. I’m excited for how it will be reinvented for today’s generation and how we can weave our advertising partners into the pop-culture platform.

What she is most looking forward to about the awards reception: I’m excited to celebrate with my fellow Viacom Velocity peers as they’re all deserving of this honor and it has been a pleasure to work alongside them. I’m also looking forward to meeting the other honorees and to learn from our shared passions and successes.

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The BET Awards: A Star-Studded and Socially Conscious Celebration

As host of this year’s BET Awards, comedian Leslie Jones had a vision for what she wanted the night to be.

Leslie Jones at the BET Awards in Los Angeles, June 25, 2017

“BET was the first network and place where I was on TV,” said Jones in a press release. “I am looking to turn this whole experience into a joyful homecoming.”

This year’s ceremony, which took place at Staples Center in Los Angeles, brought recording artists, athletes and actors together for an unabashedly jubilant reunion. Among the top talent in black entertainment present this year were Bruno Mars, Solange Knowles, Chance The Rapper and all six members of New Edition.

It was both a raucous party and tender family reunion, as you can see from these highlights:

Beyoncé shouts out her family, BET and “BeyHive” after winning five awards

Last year, Beyoncé stunned fans with a riveting, elemental BET Awards performance, dancing through fog, fire and water alongside Kendrick Lamar. The superstar did things a bit differently this year, opting to stay home with her newborn twins and enjoy the BET Awards from afar. She nonetheless still won a whopping five BET Awards—more than any other performer.

Her protégés, Atlanta sister-duo Chloe x  Halle (Chloe and Halle Bailey) accepted the Viewer’s Choice Award on her behalf, and delivered her acceptance speech.

“Thank you BET for this award and your tremendous support of Lemonade,” wrote Beyonce. “This has been a journey of love, of celebrating our culture, honoring the past, and approaching the present and future with hope and resolve.”

Watch the full speech:

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Chris Rock, 50 Cent, Wanda Sykes and More Top Talent Line Up with BET for Fall Programming

BET’s fall 2017 lineup is brimming with big-name talent both on and off screen – five new shows starring or produced by Chris Rock, 50 Cent, Wanda Sykes, Deon Cole, Tiffany Haddish, Robin Thede, Gucci Mane, Keyshia Ka’oir, George Lopez, DL Hughley, Cedric the Entertainer, Eddie Griffin, and the late Charlie Murphy.

Here’s a look at what to expect, and when:

Wednesday, September 27 – Face Value

This 30-minute game show has one purpose: break down stereotypes and prejudices through humor. Deon Cole will host alongside breakout star Tiffany Haddish, who will conduct woman-on-the-street segments to determine how society values outward appearances.

50 Central

Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson stars in BET’s first variety comedy showcase that includes hidden camera pranks, musical performances, and a wealth of celebrity guests. The hip-hop mainstay will take turns as actor, producer and emcee on the show.

Thursday, September 28 – The Rundown with Robin Thede

From executive producer Chris Rock, this new program diversifies  the talk show space with African-American female host Robin Thede. The 30-minute late night show will discuss politics and pop culture through sketches, social commentary and parodies.

Tuesday, October 10Tales

BET’s critically popular anthology series, which reimagines classic hip-hop records as love letters, will return with its fourth hour-long installment in October.

Thursday, Oct. 12 – The Comedy Get Down

George Lopez, DL Hughley, Cedric the Entertainer, Eddie Griffin and the late Charlie Murphy headline The Comedy Get Down tour – and now you have a backstage pass. The Comedy Get Down will be the first scripted comedy series to explore the five comedians’ offstage lives during their mammoth five-man tour.

Tuesday, October 17 – Gucci Mane and Keyshia Ka’oir: The Mane Event

Didn’t receive an invite to Gucci Mane & Keyshia Ka’oir’s wedding? BET has you covered. As the couple ties the knot on October 17, their 10-episode docuseries Gucci Mane and Keyshia Ka’oir: The Mane Event will also make its debut.

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