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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Petals, Pizzazz and Politics—How the Season Finale of RuPaul’s Drag Race Sashayed to the Mainstream

A 29-year-old drag queen from Brooklyn, New York known as Sasha Velour is lip syncing to Whitney Houston’s So Emotional. She’s gliding across the stage; a graceful avant-garde, bald ballerina.

Arms clad in opera-length bronze gloves, Velour vogues alongside fellow queen Shea Couleé, sauntering her hips and moving her lips soundlessly. Then, she craned her neck and began tugging at her wig. Pantomiming a seizure, she grabbed each scarlet lock to unleash a cascade of rose petals—just as Houston’s ballad reached its dénouement.

Watch the performance:

It was the season 9 finale of VH1’s RuPaul’s Drag Race. Nearly 9 million people watched as Velour won the coveted title of America’s Next Drag Superstar, making Drag Race history for the most-watched finale. It was, in the eternal words of Whitney Houston, “So emotional.”

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LGBT-Friendly Companies, Ireland’s Gay Prime Minister, Play in the Netherlands and More: Viacom International Insights, June 2017

by Christian Kurz, Global Consumer Insights, Viacom

Welcome to the July issue of the Viacom Global Insights Digest, bringing you Viacom’s latest consumer insights from around the world.

For Pride Month (June), we published stories on the most LGBT-friendly US companies and Ireland’s first gay prime minister. We also have a video of our Modern Dads and research on play in the Netherlands, Gen Xers in South Africa and originality among teens and young adults.

As always, the English version of our blog is home to these stories and many more. All stories are available in Spanish (LatAm) and Portuguese (Brazilian).

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Logo’s Trailblazer Honorees “Stood On the Shoulders of Giants” to Become Pioneers of Change for This Generation

Throughout history, art has defended the human spirit. Especially in times of political crisis, art and activism become inextricably related.

This was clear after attending Logo’s Trailblazer Honors, which celebrates the work of honorees who have made indelible contributions to LGBT civil rights—through writing, dancing, singing and producing. This year’s honorees included Cyndi Lauper; activist and author Cleve Jones (his memoir, When We Rise, inspired ABC’s miniseries by the same name); the late Alvin Ailey, who is credited with making modern dance an inclusive space for LGBT African-Americans; and the creators of NBC’s Will and Grace, Max Mutchnick and David Kohan.

Logo taped the event on Thursday, June 22 at the historic Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City and aired it the following night on VH1 and Logo.

 

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Transformers Return, The Mist Creeps In, Logo Honors Trailblazers, Bellator Hits MSG, 17th BET Awards Air – All in a Spectacular Weekend for Viacom

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

This is an extraordinary week for Viacom, a showcase of our diverse properties and the incredible power of our brands, sprawled across theaters, televisions and event spaces all over the world.

On Wednesday, the fifth Transformers movie opened in theaters. Thursday brought Spike’s mini-series adaptation of Stephen King’s The Mist. Friday we celebrate Pride month with Logo’s Trailblazer Honors. Saturday is perhaps the marquee night in Bellator history, as the Spike-owned property drops into New York City’s Madison Square Garden. And Sunday takes us to the West Coast, where BET will broadcast their marquee BET Awards.

As Viacom refocuses under the leadership of CEO Bob Bakish, this rapid-fire concentration of noteworthy properties distills the impressive breadth and depth of Viacom’s multi-brand portfolio.

Here’s a day-by-day look at what’s already dropped and what’s to come over the weekend:

Wednesday, June 21 – Transformers: The Last Knight – Paramount Pictures

It is the fifth installment in the live-action Transformers spectaculars directed by Michael Bay, an intriguing collision of ancient epochs with the robot alien present, and a special effects masterpiece.

“…[I]f you’re not staggered by the technique on display here – the stuff that sets Bay’s work miles above the Fast & Furiouses, X-Men: Apocalypses and Tom Cruise-chasing Mummies of this world – you’re not paying attention,” writes The Telegraph’s Robbie Collin.

Here’s a preview of what he’s talking about:

Since the first Transformers movie hit theaters in 2007, the franchise has raked in nearly $4 billion for Paramount and redefined important elements of the movie industry. “Ever since the first movie in the robo-franchise was released into theaters a decade ago, the film industry has changed its approach to producing, releasing and reporting on movies,” writes The Street’s Buster Coen, noting that the films legitimized toy-to-cinema adaptations, stamped June as a month for movie blockbusters, and set the template for international distribution of American films.

Transformers: The Last Knight is in theaters around the world now. A Bumblebee spin-off is scheduled for release next summer.

Thursday, June 22 – The Mist Spike

With a cast of complex characters unified by their small-town setting, the deft use of suspense and drama, and some imaginative writing, Spike has transformed Stephen King’s 1980 novella about a sinister, monster-filled cloud descending upon a small Maine town into a 10-part serial that debuted last night.

And it’s really good, according to a platoon of critics who got an advanced look at the pilot. “Spike’s new series based on The Mist … wasn’t written by King, but it does the author proud ,” writes CNET’s Gael Fashingbauer Cooper.

The series was written, rather, by a team led by Denmark native Christian Torpe, who is a lifelong King fan and consulted with the author at the project’s outset. King simply told him, “Don’t do anything ordinary.”

Torpe appears to have succeeded, leaving even those familiar with King’s original work in suspense. “It’s hard to judge where this newer, looser adaptation might progress from just the first hour, but Torpe has said that, like King, he intends to explore the nature of fanaticism, and how fear so often compels people to seek out unlikely prophets,” writes The Atlantic’s Sophie Gilbert. “If so, The Mist could be a satisfyingly complex chiller, scaring viewers not just with unexpected jumps and amped-up creepy crawlies, but with the more human monsters who are all trapped together inside, waiting out the weather.”

The Mist premieres at a time of incredible momentum for Spike, which will evolve into the premium TV Paramount Network in January of next year. While the network is still determining an exact programming lineup, they have already announced Yellowstone starring Kevin Costner, a six-part documentary on Trayvon Martin produced in conjunction with The Weinstein Company, American Woman starring Alicia Silverstone and Mena Suvari, a six-part Waco series documenting the 1993 stand-off at the Branch Dividian compound, and a television adaptation of the 1988 classic film Heathers.

Friday, June 23 – Logo Trailblazer Honors – Logo

The fourth installment of Logo’s marquee event follows last year’s emotional outpouring of defiant pride in the aftermath of the Orlando nightclub massacre.

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Logo’s Trailblazer Honors Will Recognize Pioneers of LGBT Equality, Including Cyndi Lauper: Friday, June 23

What do Cyndi Lauper, Will & Grace creators Max Mutchnick and David Kohan, Debra Messing, RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant Valentina, activist and author Cleve Jones, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, and Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi all have in common?

They’re trailblazers of the LGBT community—using their prominence in society to spread a message of love, acceptance and equality.

Logo’s fourth Trailblazer Honors special taped Thursday, June 22, at the historic Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City (famous in the LGBT community for being a progressive, welcoming house of worship) and will air Friday, June 23 at 9 p.m.

Trailblazing Honors, unlike other award shows of its ilk, isn’t just about celebrating star power—it’s about celebrating the power stars have to change the world for the better.

Logo’s tentpole event, which culminates Pride month along with the New York City Pride Parade, presents “Trailblazing Honors” to three individuals or entities who have made outstanding contributions to the LGBT community. Past honorees include activist Harvey Fierstein, Edie Windsor, Judy and Dennis Shepard, the Obama Administration and the cast of Orange Is the New Black.

This year, Logo recognized Cyndi Lauper, Will & Grace’s Mutchnick and Kohan, and the late Alvin Ailey as honorees. The ceremony will include musical performances inspired by these leaders, as well as presenter speeches celebrating the tireless work of these honorees.


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The Commerce of Inclusion: Take a Look at Logo’s List of 25 Trailblazing Companies for the LGBT Community

What do Target, Google, Nike, AT&T, and American Express have in common? They’re among the 25 most LGBT-friendly companies in the U.S., according to Logo, Viacom’s network inspired by the LGBT community.

Logo unveiled its second annual Trailblazing Companies list on the eve of Pride Month in June to compile the catalog of inclusive and supportive businesses.

So, how can Logo measure the economics of equality? With the help of Witeck Communications, a marketing firm focused on LGBT consumer habits, Logo scored companies based on seven criteria:

Courtesy of Logo/Witeck Communications.

Aside from promoting equality and inclusivity, why should companies care about promoting LGBT initiatives? Well, there’s this: the LGBT community has an estimated buying power of $971 billion, according to Witeck Communications President Bob Witeck.

“The footprint that gay people have today in the economy is much, much more present, much more visible,” Witeck said in an interview with Bloomberg News. “Also, companies are responding not just to LGBT purchasing power, they are responding to others who are aligned and sympathetic.”

Take a look at the top 25 companies:

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Make America Fierce Again: What a Ratings Surge Tells Us About RuPaul’s Drag Race

After strutting from Logo to VH1, RuPaul’s Drag Race’s ninth season premiered Friday, March 24. Critics say it’s as fabulous as ever—with a fierce cast delivering a whole new level of charisma, nerve, and talent. Viewers agree. The season premiere drew nearly 1 million viewers, more than any other episode of Drag Race. It was the most-watched show on cable TV that night, besides the NCAA’s March Madness basketball tournament. The divas dominated Twitter, as well, trending worldwide and garnering the highest Twitter volume in Drag Race history.

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 07: (L-R) Eureka O'hara, Peppermint, Kimora Blac, Alexis Michelle; Trinity Taylor, Shea Coulee, Jaymes Mansfield, Nina Bo' Nina Brown, Aja, Valentina, Sasha Velour, Charlie Hides and Farrah Moan attend "RuPaul's Drag Race" Season 9 Premiere Party & Meet The Queens Event at PlayStation Theater on March 7, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Santiago Felipe/Getty Images)

The cast of RuPaul’s Drag Race attend Season 9 Premiere Party & Meet The Queens Event at PlayStation Theater on March 7, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Santiago Felipe/Getty Images)

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Logo’s Global Ally Examines the Less Sunny Side of Jamaica

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

“Growing up, my mother was always saying that [if] any of her child become gay or lesbian, she would take them out personally,” says the unidentified man in the red tank top, his head sliced from the camera shot. “Meaning she would kill us herself.”

Facing these sorts of attitudes and resorting to clandestine behavior are the reality for the LGBT community in Jamaica, where same-sex relations are scorned by an enormous chunk of the population: more than 80 percent, according to a new video from Logo’s Global Ally campaign and the Where Love Is Illegal organization, believe that homosexuality is immoral. And while homosexuality is not illegal, “acts of gross indecency” – intimate relations between members of the same sex – are.

The video, This is Who I Am: LGBTQ Stories of Survival, is the latest in Global Ally’s year-long storytelling project that launched last year on The International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biophobia to unite victims, activists and supporters of LGBT rights around the world.

The Jamaica that unfolds on the video is a brutal realm where LGBT individuals often live in constant fear of violence, exiled from their families, unemployed and uneducated because they are forever shunning public places.

In an atmosphere so tainted, why, then, would anyone come out at all?

“Our personal stories, which display our humanity, are very important, because it’s not real to Jamaican people unless they know somebody who’s part of the community,” says one man, echoing Logo’s position that increased visibility of LGBT individuals – whether in one’s personal life or the media – is the best way to diffuse homophobia.

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Viacom Wins Eight Cynopsis Social Good Awards, Including Impact Honors for Its LISTEN Addiction Initiative

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Anchored by its stigma-crushing LISTEN addiction initiative, Viacom brands underscored the companywide commitment to social responsibility by earning seven honors at the Cynopsis Social Good Awards ceremony in New York City this morning.

LISTEN, which earned the Impact Campaign distinction, is a multi-dimensional campaign grounded in the belief that compassion and awareness are central elements to fighting the scourge of addiction. A partnership with Facing Addiction, LISTEN unites addiction-fighting resources with transformational video stories of individuals who have fought from nearly hopeless circumstances to become inspirations for those still struggling to find sobriety.

This video is just one in a series posted on heretolisten.com. A LISTEN special that aired across 11 Viacom networks has been viewed more than 2 million times and drove 38.1 million social impressions and more than 56,000 engagements across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Debi Mazar, one of the stars of TV Land’s hit Younger, appeared alongside Niels Schuurmans, executive vice president of Viacom Velocity, to accept the award on the company’s behalf.

“I am so proud to see Viacom mobilize the voice and reach of its channels to take action in breaking down the shame and stigma around addiction and address it for what it is – a health issue,” Mazar said. “Media has the power to change hearts and minds. And LISTEN is doing that one story and conversation at a time.”

LISTEN also took top honors in the Branded Campaign for a TV Series or Special Programming category.

Logo earned a pair of honors. The network’s stirring Trailblazer Honors ceremony served as a tribute to victims of the Orlando nightclub massacre and took the Philanthropic/Human Rights Campaign category, while its Fill in the Blank push around Pride Month earned best Branded Campaign for a Digital or Mobile Platform.

BET Networks also took two categories. Its HBCU (historically black colleges and universities) Snapchat tour earned best Digital Media Campaign:


While the network’s understated Vote Your Voice spots earned top Hash Tag Promotion:

Viacom International Media Networks earned the last two honor, in the Public Service Announcement and Best Spot (30 Seconds or Less) categories, both for Nickelodeon’s Together for Good collaboration with UNICEF, which works to protect disadvantaged children around the world.

In addition to the Impact Award, Viacom received 44 total nominations across 21 categories and an impressive array of brands, including Nick Jr., Spike, Viacom International Media Networks, MTV, VH1, and our Viacom Velocity in-house agency.

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