In October, Vuguru announced it inked a multi-million dollar deal with Canadian media behemoth, Rogers Media. The partnership gave Vuguru – a three-year-old web television company founded by Michael Eisner – two things. One, a distribution partner with 51 radio stations, two television networks, a Major League Baseball team, and a multitude of other print publications and broadcast outlets, ranging from a Canadian edition of Hello magazine to Canada’s only nationally televised shopping service. And two, an influx of cash with which to triple production and create a reported 10 to 15 new web series in 2010.
Today, Vuguru named Larry Tanz president. The entertainment industry executive and digital media entrepreneur will have the responsibility of soundly spending Rogers’ “significant capital investment” on “high-quality, scripted, story-driven productions.” If his resume is any indication, he’ll perform very well in his new role. Before Vuguru, Tanz was CEO and President of LivePlanet (the entertainment company founded by Ben Afleck and Matt Damon that created, most memorably, Project Greenlight) and Co-Founder and President of digital studio, Agility.
Given Agility’s recent successes, including deals with MSN and Paramount Digital, it may seem like odd timing for a principal to leave the company. But, as Tanz told me over the phone, that’s exactly part of the reason he took the new position at Vuguru. He feels Agility is on solid footing and well-positioned to move forward.
The other part of the reason Tanz took the position is that working for Michael Eisner is very appealing:
“Well, there were two very big appeals. One of them is definitely getting to work for Michael and learn from him. You see somebody like that, who’s been doing this for decades and done it across movies, television, cable, and home video, and it’s validating. He’s very passionate about this. He believes that story-driven content will find a home online, just as it has found a home on every emerging platform throughout history. It’s exciting to see somebody like Michael placing his bet.
And then Rogers is a huge player in Canada. By being able to launch on all those platforms and also have a significant amount of capital, it gives you the ability to do a lot.”
Tanz went onto say how “a lot” includes financing projects that will be appealing to brands, but won’t make Vuguru beholden to them. The cash offers a certain amount of creative flexibility that not many other online studios enjoy.
In one of his frist orders of business, Tanz will be rolling out the Vuguru library (which includes web series like Prom Queen, The All-For-Nots, and Foreign Body) on Rogers On Demand networks. In the coming months, he’ll oversee the productions and distribution of Prom Queen: The Homecoming; Pretty Tough “an adaptation of a successful young adult novel from accomplished television writer and producer Liz Tigelaar;” and The Booth at the End, a “physcological thriller” starring Xander Berkely and directed by Jessica Landaw.
Tanz will be speaking tomorrow at Going Pro: Seducing the Studios – the December Tubefilter Hollywood Web Television Meetup. A few tickets are still available. The panel portion of the event will also be live streamed here on Tubefilter News tomorrow night beginning at 7:45 PM.