Frontline Marketing

Viacom Appoints New Paramount Network Marketing Chief; Rovio Founder Starts Kaiken Entertainment

Steven Wong|

Viacom continues to restructure its cable networks this week while Rovio’s former CEO starts a new entertainment studio. Here are some of the week’s most prominent job moves.

Niels Schuurmans, a Viacom veteran, has been named as the marketing chief for the Paramount Network, TV Land and CMT. As part of this role, Schuurmans will oversee the rebranding of Spike TV to the Paramount Network.


Additionally, Dario Spina was named chief marketing officer of Viacom Velocity, a division that creates marketing programs and content for advertisers.


Viacom is also continuing to consolidate its MTV and VH1 programming teams with the promotion of Lily Neumeyer to head of development for MTV and VH1. Neumeyer is charged with overseeing the development of unscripted programming for both networks.


MGM is also reportedly in talks with Viacom and Lionsgate Entertainment to acquire all of Epix, a premium cable network. Nothing is official yet, but the deal is could be valued between $1 billion and $2 billion.


Focus Features hired Dani Weinstein as its executive vice president of publicity. In this role, Weinstein will oversee all of the company’s theatrical publicity efforts.


Veteran film executive, Jennifer Peterson has joined 20th Century Fox as executive vice president of global theatrical publicity. Peterson previously worked at Lionsgate and oversaw the publicity campaigns for La La Land and all four Hunger Games movies. In this newly created position, she will lead the studio’s publicity team on a global basis. Her appointment begins on March 13.


Hershey Entertainment announced that it has hired Leslie Ferraro as its new vice president and chief marketing officer, filling a role that has been open since 2014.


Nickelodeon Group appointed Shelly Sumpter Gillyard to the role of executive VP of talent, music and events. Sumpter Gillyard has been with the company for 19 years, and will oversee talent relations across live television, music and live-action programming for all Nickelodeon brands in her new role.


The VR studio, Here Be Dragons (formerly known as VRSE.works), has brought on former Tumblr president, John Maloney as its new networks producer. Maloney will be tasked with


Similarly, the virtual reality production company, Mandt VR, announced that it has expanded its executive team adding the Emmy Award-winning director, Brian Cavallaro, as the company’s chief creative officer. In this role, Cavallaro will oversee the creative team and direct its artistic design strategy. Cavallaro also serves as the director of development and vice president of production for Mandt Bros. Production, and his most recent film, Dog Years, stars Burt Reynolds and will premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival.


Mikael Hed, the founder and former CEO of Rovio Entertainment has formed a new company called Kaiken Entertainment. Its focus will be on animation, publishing and apps, and it’s already off to a good start. Rovio agreed to sell its Vancouver-based TV animation department and its publishing unit in Helsinki to Kaiken.

In a statement, Hed said that this is a natural progression for both companies. “Over the past few years, mobile gaming has transitioned entirely to free-to-play, but the paying audience there is much older than what we see as our audience, which is the family audience. So, there is already a natural split between who we’re targeting,” explained Hed.  “We already had this type of organization in the past, and now we’re taking a step further, making it a separate company.”


Louis Castle, co-founder of Westwood Studios (makers of the Command & Conquer franchise), has been hired as the new head of Amazon Game Studios, Seattle.


Christophe Balestr, co-president of Naughty Dog (famous for the Uncharted video game series) announced on a blog post that he is departing the company after 15 years to pursue “personal ambitions and projects.” Balestr will officially embark on his new adventure starting April 3.


Sega and Creative Assembly have agreed to acquire Crytek’s Black Sea Studio. Under the new ownership, the Bulgaria-based studio will operate as Creative Assembly Sofia.

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