NASDAQ Bell Ringing Launches VH1’s The Breaks, Nostalgic 1990s Hip-Hop Follow-Up to Hit Movie

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

VH1 rolled out its new series, The Breaks, recently with an adrenaline shot opening bell at the NASDAQ stock exchange and a ceremonial street renaming in front of Viacom’s Times Square headquarters. The events teed up the premiere of the hip-hop throwback series that followed and directly continued a VH1 movie of the same name that aired early last year, and ended up ranking as the number two cable movie of 2016.

The Breaks movie debuted last year to huge fanfare and really strong ratings, and so it became a no-brainer to take this fabulous movie to series,” said Amy Doyle, general manager of MTV, VH1 and Logo, flanked by the show’s cast and crew at NASDAQ’s opening bell podium. “The buzz on this show is palpable. Essence has deemed it, ‘VH1’s highly anticipated new series,’ and NPR is calling it – my favorite – ‘a hip-hop answer to Mad Men.’”

 

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VH1 executives and cast and crew of The Breaks gather at the NASDAQ stock exchange to ring the opening bell on Feb. 17, 2017. Photo by Christopher Galluzzo, Getty Images

Later that morning, this crew gathered again on the corner of Seventh Avenue and 44th Street in Manhattan to temporarily rename the street “The Breaks Way.”

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 17: Atmsphere at the VH1 street renaming "The Breaks Way" for the premiere- Monday, February 20th at 9PM ET/PT. on February 17, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images for VH1)

NEW YORK, NY – FEBRUARY 17: Atmsphere at the VH1 street renaming “The Breaks Way” for the premiere- Monday, February 20th at 9PM ET/PT. on February 17, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images for VH1)

The Breaks rumbles out of the unfiltered New York City of 1990, an ode to hip-hop’s gritty rise that is equal parts historical drama, nostalgia trip, and reminder that there was nothing predestined about the genre’s eventual rise.

A period piece set at a crucial juncture where rap had crept into the zeitgeist but still skirted the mainstream, the series immerses us within a crew of fictional stand-ins who shoulder the mighty task of recreating that frantic era: a wily and determined Nikki Jones (Afton Williamson), her boyfriend and radio station rookie David Aaron (David Call), aspiring producer DeeVee (Tristan “Mack” Wilds), hip-hop manager Barry Fouray (Wood Harris), and drug dealer-cum-rapper Ahm (Antoine Harris).

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Nick Jr.’s Nella the Princess Knight Captures the Zeitgeist of Diverse America

Not all super heroes wear capes—some wear sparkly ball gowns.

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Nella rides into town with a message of self-empowerment. Photo courtesy of Nickelodeon.

Nella, the titular character in Nick Jr.’s Nella the Princess Knight is shattering princess norms.

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This biracial princess knight slays gender norms. Photo courtesy of Nickelodeon.

Equal parts glam, girly-girl and brave warrior, Nella lives in a castle and gossips with her pet unicorn about fashion—yet she’s not afraid to get her pink gloves dirty when trouble arises.

Nella grabs her glittering sword and dons pastel armor, embarking on treacherous quests to save her kingdom.

Oh, and she’s biracial.

Since the show premiered earlier this month, Nella’s attracted legions of fans (besides Nick Jr.’s target audience of preschoolers).

Nella is a hero. Not just for the citizens of her fictional village, but for parents, journalists, television critics, African-American bloggers, college students, women’s studies professors, and child media advocacy groups.

According to People, “[Nella] stands for everything our world needs.”

Here’s why.

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The Best-Dressed Pineapple Under the Sea: SpongeBob Goes Gold With Six International Designers

Top fashion bloggers, designers, celebs and SpongeBob himself were in attendance at the SpongeBob Gold fashion collection launch party at London Fashion Week on Saturday Feb. 18.

To kick off a year-long SpongeBob Gold international campaign, Nickelodeon and Viacom Consumer Products have collaborated with six international designers on an innovative fashion collection. Featuring designs from Peter Jensen, Bobby Abley, Salar, Maria Francesca Pepe, Suecomma Bonnie and Bad Denim, the SpongeBob Gold fashion collection includes clothing for men and women as well as footwear, accessories and jewelry. SpongeBob Gold will be available at retail exclusively outside of the U.S. beginning in May.

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 18: A general view at Nickelodeon's SpongeBob Gold 18th Anniversary at LFW in collaboration with the LFW Design collective: Bobby Abley, Pete Jenson, Salar Milano, Maria Francesca Pepe, Suecomma Bonnie & Bad Denim on February 18, 2017 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Nickelodeon)

LONDON, ENGLAND – FEB. 18: A general view at Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob Gold 18th Anniversary at LFW in collaboration with the LFW Design collective on Feb. 18, 2017 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Nickelodeon)

Designer Maria Francesca Pepe, who designed a range of charm-adorned SpongeBob jewelry, said of her involvement in the collection, “I’ve always felt the concept of pop defined the core of my creations. Developing an exclusive capsule collection of jewelry featuring the pop sensation SpongeBob felt such a match.”

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Former Paramount Intern Harnesses Lessons of the Lot on Way to Short Film Oscar Nomination

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Waiting for the Oscars

As a boy, Jean de Meuron would rise in the dead of the European night to cheer the Academy Award recipients ascending gilded stages on the far side of the Atlantic. He relished this annual celebration of a world he deeply admired: he was a student of Hollywood history, a fan of Spielberg’s Indiana Jones, a dreamer gripped by the allure of the American entertainment industry.

So here he came, from Switzerland, in 2008, embedding himself in studies at the New York Film Academy, USC, UCLA and the New School; bunking down in internships at the Weinstein Company, MTV, Viacom International Media Networks and Paramount. He would go anywhere – New York City, Los Angeles, Mexico, Buenos Aires – as he produced student films and peppered executives with questions at every stop. He learned about marketing campaigns, about the importance of everything from color schemes to timing to creating effective trailers.

It was an immersive course in filmmaking and marketing, fueled by an unwavering vision of what his life ought to be. It was this resolute focus that led him to the 2012 Basel Gässli Film Festival in his native Switzerland, where he met a young director named Timo von Gunten, a preternatural talent whose work – the editing, framing, storytelling – echoed legendary Amelie director Jean-Pierre Jeunet. And it was his partnership with von Gunten, as executive producer (along with Bela Böke) on the short film La Femme et le TGV, that last month opened up the Oscars in a way de Meuron’s boyhood self would not have believed: live, at the event, as a nominee.

Jean de Meuron (right) with La Femme et le TGV producer Giacun Caduff and director Timo von Gunten at a luncheon for Oscar nominees. Photo courtesy of Jean de Meuron.

Jean de Meuron (right) with La Femme et le TGV producer Giacun Caduff and director Timo von Gunten at a luncheon for Oscar nominees. Photo courtesy of Jean de Meuron.

It would be the culmination of a lifelong ambition, the highest professional acknowledgement in one of the most prominent creative industries in the world. But like an artisan crafting a beautiful piece of furniture, a filmmaker does not spring wholly into the existence with the knowledge of his art, but learns it through a long apprenticeship. For de Meuron, his time at Paramount would prove crucial to plan, produce, edit and promote La Femme et le TGV.

A rich, nostalgic world

It helps to understand, first, what they have made, for an Oscar nomination is reserved for those things that are exceptional.

La Femme et le TGV is set in an idyllic mountain landscape pancaked with cliff bands in the green and field-dotted wilderness outside the impossibly quaint town of Monbijou, Switzerland. At the center of this world is Elise Lafontaine (Jane Birkin), and hammering through it in a shimmering streak of steel and noise is the twice-daily TGV high-speed train. Every day for 32 years, at 6:18 a.m. and again at 7:13 p.m. Lafontaine has leaned, Swiss flag waving, from the window for these joyous passings.

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Paramount Channel Vietnam: Five Things You Should Know About Viacom’s Latest International Launch

Viacom’s Paramount Channel already has a robust worldwide footprint, with networks spanning Europe, South America, and Asia. The channel has unique programming in 12 countries, including Spain, Russia, Sweden and now one more: Vietnam.
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Paramount’s Promotion for Rings has Over 200 Million Views in Just 24 Hours: Here’s Why

Paramount took integrated marketing to a new level with an elaborate, terrifying promotional stunt for Rings on Monday, Jan. 23.

The world first met Samara, the eerie young girl with matted hair and a penchant for crawling out of television screens, in 2002 when the first Ring movie premiered. The sequel followed in 2005, freaking out audiences around the world with the potent combination of prophetic phone calls, fuzzy TV screens, and burning trees.

But it’s been over a decade since we last saw Samara, and Paramount wants to make sure we haven’t forgotten her.

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Viacom Just Premiered the Trippiest Virtual Reality Music Video Ever at the Sundance Film Festival

Pretend you’re a robot god in a mountain liquid dreamscape, dancing to infectious electronic beats while sparkly purple kittens float around you.

Oh, and there’s champagne too.

Enter the psychedelic world of Chocolatean animated virtual reality (VR) music experience created for the song of the same name by San Francisco based musician Giraffage. Born from the wildly imaginative mind of 3D animator Tyler Hurd and executive produced by Viacom NEXT – the company’s emerging technology group – Chocolate was selected to premiere today at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah in the New Frontier showcase of VR productions. It runs until Jan. 29.

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Pack Your Bags, Nick Fans: Viacom International Breaks Ground on First Nickelodeon Theme Park in China

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The groundbreaking ceremony for the Nickelodeon Cultural Resort was held on Jan.4, 2017 in Foshan, China. Photo courtesy of Viacom International Media Networks.

Viacom kicked off 2017 by making history abroad. On Wednesday, Jan. 4, Viacom International Media Networks broke ground on Nickelodeon’s first theme park in China. SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will reside at the Nickelodeon Theme Park in Foshan, China by 2020.

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Critics Are Calling TV Land’s Teachers One of 2016’s Best Programs: Here’s Why You Should Watch It

The first season of Teachers, TV Land’s hilarious comedy series, earned an A with The Hollywood Reporter’s chief TV critic Tim Goodman, who ranked it among the best television of 2016. It made LA Weekly‘s Best TV of 2016 list as well.

Why the high grade? Let’s hear more from the critics.

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