Thursday, April 26, 2018

Former Nickelodeon Veteran Paula Kaplan Rejoins Viacom As Head of Digital Talent and Development

Viacom Digital Studios (VDS) has hired Paula Kaplan, AwesomenessTV’s chief talent officer who formerly worked at Viacom’s Nickelodeon for more than two decades, as Executive Vice President (EVP) of Talent and Development.

Kaplan joins her former Awesomeness colleague Kelly Day, who was tapped as Viacom Digital Studios president last November. In the newly created role at VDS, Kaplan will be responsible for building and managing talent and production partnerships with an eye toward creating original talent-centric intellectual property. She’s also tasked with coordinating talent and production-deal strategy with other Viacom divisions.

“Paula is a seasoned executive and a well-regarded leader in the creative community, with a track record of identifying and nurturing talent and delivering revenue-generating results,” Day wrote in a memo to staff Thursday, April 26 announcing the hire.

Kaplan officially starts at Viacom Digital Studios on Monday, April 30, reporting to Day (who was formerly Awesomeness’ chief business officer). VDS was formed in 2017 with a mission to produce new original digital entertainment and brand-sponsored content for a range of platforms, as well as work with other Viacom brands on new online initiatives.

VDS is currently working with Nickelodeon on Musical Dares (working title), a brand-new digital short-form series featuring a new twist on the classic concept of musical chairs that is set to air on Nickelodeon's YouTube channel. Created and executive produced by multi-faceted entertainer Nick Cannon, the live-action game show will combine real kids, physical competition and a full-blown dance party. As part of the work of the Viacom Digital Studios, Musical Dares (10 episodes) is Nickelodeon’s first original short-form series, and will begin production this summer. Musical Dares was announced at Nickelodeon Upfront 2018.

Before joining VDS, Kaplan led the overall talent strategy for AwesomenessTV, including creative and business operations for the multichannel network side of the business as well as casting for feature films and digital series. Prior to joining Awesomeness in July 2015, she was a veteran at Nickelodeon, where she spent more than 20 years in a variety of roles at the kids network, including EVP of original programming and live events. At Nick, she worked with talent from live-action series such as iCarly and Drake & Josh to animated franchises including SpongeBob SquarePants and Dora the Explorer. Kaplan also helped build the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards live event into an annual mainstay for the cable network.

Kaplan’s hire follows the recent promotion of Stefanie Schwartz to EVP of Viacom Digital Studios strategy and operations and Viacom Media Networks digital partnerships.

All told, in the first quarter of 2018, Viacom had around 850 million social followers, delivering 4.3 billion social video views (up 70% year over year) and 4.7 billion minutes viewed in the U.S. (up 78%).

More from Deadline:

Awesomeness TV Exec Paula Kaplan Joins Viacom Digital Studios As EVP Of Talent

Paula Kaplan has joined Viacom Digital Studios as EVP Talent and Development, where she’ll serve as its face to the creative community and help build its content portfolio.

An executive with deep experience in identifying and nurturing talent, Kaplan most recently served as chief talent officer for AwesomenessTV. Before that, she spent 20 years at Nickelodeon, where she worked with talent from such live-action series as iCarly and Drake & Josh and helped build the Kids’ Choice Awards into a brand-defining live event.

“In this newly created position, Paula will take a leading role in ensuring that VDS is the home of groundbreaking faces and stories, overseeing Viacom’s most influential social media stars and securing innovative digital talent and production partnerships to build our portfolio of original talent-centric IP,” said Viacom Digital Studios President Kelly Day in a memo announcing Kaplan’s appointment.

Day said Kaplan also will work with teams across Viacom – including the brands, communications, ad sales and marketing – to ensure a coordinated approach to talent and production deals.

Viacom Digital Studios was formed in November as part of Viacom CEO Bob Bakish strategy for reinvigorating the media company, in part, by exploiting next-generation platforms. The studio is developing short form video for digital distribution.

Kaplan’s appointment follows the recent promotion of Stefanie Schwartz to executive vice president of Viacom Digital Studio’s strategy and operations. In this role, Schwartz will work with Day to drive promotional and revenue strategies for Viacom’s brands and original content.


More Nick: Nickelodeon Greenlights New Short-Form Series 'Musical Dares'!

Sources: Variety, Broadcasting & Cable.
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