Variety’s Hall of Fame has honored industry executives and companies for pioneering work in the creation and distribution of entertainment content, while benefiting charitable organizations. This year we are expanding to honor the contributions of digital entertainment, impacting the future direction of film, TV, music, VR and more. Variety will feature these honorees in our December 5th Hall of Fame issue. The event is attended by 250 senior executives from the Hollywood studios, as well as retailers, technology companies, consumer electronics marketers and others doing business in the home entertainment and digital space.
The 2017 charity beneficiary is City Year, an education-focused, non-profit organization founded in 1988 that partners with public schools to provide full-time targeted intervention for students most at risk of dropping out.
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2017 Hall of Fame Honorees:
Producer (Despicable Me franchise, Sing, The Secret Life of Pets) and CEO, Illumination Entertainment
President, The Americas and Global Strategy, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
Fox Innovation Lab
Danny Kaye, EVP, Global Research & Tech Strategy, 20th Century Fox and Managing Director will be accepting on Fox Innovation Lab’s behalf
Jeremy Verba, VP & GM, VUDU and Video Games & Media (Walmart.com) at Wal Mart Stores will be accepting the award on behalf of Vudu
Chief Digital Officer at Sony Pictures Television Networks and GM of Crackle, Deloitte Leadership in Media and Entertainment Award
- Hall of Fame InducteeJim WuthrichWarner Bros. Home Entertainment
Jim Wuthrich serves as President, The Americas and Global Strategy, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, responsible for the division’s overall operations in the U.S., Canada, and Latin, Central and South America. He oversees worldwide product and sales processes for WBHE and is charged with working across territories to identify strategic opportunities for the home entertainment group, while implementing the company’s current growth priorities.
Throughout his career with Warner Bros., Wuthrich has been central to the development and growth of the home entertainment business, from the introduction of DVD to the ongoing transition to digital. He was a pioneer in the development of digital ownership formats, forging strong alliances with Apple, Amazon, Google, Sony and Microsoft, and licensing Warner Bros. content to numerous global services. Previously, Wuthrich served as President, International Home Video and Digital Distribution, overseeing DVD, digital and games distribution. Before that, he was Senior Vice President, Digital Distribution, as well as Senior Vice President, Electronic Sell-Through and Interactive Marketing, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group. He joined Warner Home Video in 1998 as Director, Marketing and was promoted to Vice President, Marketing Theatrical New Release, Warner Home Video in 2003. Prior to his career at Warner Bros., he led a tech startup and worked for Hallmark Cards as a Strategist. A graduate of Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program, Wuthrich holds a degree in business from University of Wisconsin-Madison.
- Deloitte Leadership in Media and Entertainment AwardEric BergerSony Pictures Television Network & Crackle
Eric Berger is the executive vice president of digital at Sony Pictures Television Networks and general manager of Crackle, the studio’s global multi-platform video entertainment network and streaming service. In his position, Berger oversees Crackle’s programming, marketing, distribution, product, video operations and engineering, as well as ad sales for Crackle and PlayStation. Berger is also responsible for the development, production and distribution of original features and series created for Crackle.
Under Berger’s direction, Crackle has become the leading Over-the-Top, premium ad-supported network. With over 120 episodes of quality original programming that have been cultivated in just under two years, Berger has been at the forefront of Crackle’s transformation. Long before other networks announced upcoming streaming plans, Crackle has been operating as a television network with a core focus on creating entertainment content, programming it and delivering it—over the top, on every platform. This model speaks to the evolution of the TV industry and is at the forefront of how TV Networks will increasingly address consumer behavior. Prior to Sony Pictures, Berger was vice president of strategic planning at Time Warner Inc. (AOL, HBO, Turner Broadcasting, Time Inc., Time Warner Cable, and Warner Bros.) where he was responsible for wireless initiatives and the creation of new digital growth businesses. His efforts included shaping the company’s overall mobile strategy, including driving investment, acquisition and business development.
- Hall of Fame InducteeFox Innovation LabAccepted by Danny Kaye
The Fox Innovation Lab is 20th Century Fox’s research and development center established to drive the advancement of groundbreaking technology and new consumer experiences across all platforms and distribution models. The Lab works closely with production, marketing and distribution across all 20th Century Fox divisions as well as key external partners to advance next generation technologies including HDR10+, an open, royalty-free dynamic metadata platform for High Dynamic Range; 4K Ultra HD with high dynamic range; mobile content experiences; and virtual, augmented and mixed reality, all featuring immersive audio. The Fox Innovation Lab serves as a research hub, demonstrating and testing technologies with consumers throughout the development process to obtain qualitative data and hands-on feedback in order to bring innovative and premium products to market.
- Hall of Fame InducteeChris MeledandriIllumination Entertainment
Chris Meledandri, the Academy Award®-nominated founder and CEO of Illumination, who is responsible for the hugely successful “Despicable Me,” “Ice Age” and animated Dr. Seuss franchises, which have grossed more than $7 billion worldwide, will receive the “CinemaCon® Producer of the Year Award,” it was announced today by Mitch Neuhauser, Managing Director of CinemaCon. Meledandri has built Illumination into one of the industry’s leading producers of event-animated films, and it was recently named one of the world’s Most Innovative Companies by Fast Company. Illumination, which has an exclusive financing and distribution partnership with Universal Pictures, is the creator of the “Despicable Me” franchise, which includes “Minions,” the Oscar®-nominated “Despicable Me 2” and summer 2017’s “Despicable Me 3. Its franchises include two of the top-six animated films of all time and its films, which include 2016’s hits “Sing” and “The Secret Life of Pets,” have grossed more than $4.5 billion and feature as creative contributors an unparalleled collection of writers, artists, voice talent and musicians. Upcoming releases include “Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas,” “The Secret Life of Pets 2,” “Sing 2” and “Minions 2”.On June 30, 2017, Illumination continues the adventures of Gru, Lucy, their adorable daughters—Margo, Edith and Agnes—and the Minions in “Despicable Me 3.” Directed by Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda, co-directed by Eric Guillon and written by Cinco Paul & Ken Daurio, the animated film is produced by Meledandri and Janet Healy, and executive produced by Chris Renaud. Meledandri also oversees Illumination’s franchises beyond the theater, broadening their reach into mobile games, consumer products and social/digital media. “Despicable Me: Minion Rush” has become the fifth-most popular game ever, while Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem, at Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood, soon opens at several global locations.
- Hall of Fame InducteeVUDUAccepted by Jeremy Verba, VP & GM
Jeremy Verba, VP & GM, Vudu be accepting the award on behalf of Vudu. Verba oversees Vudu, Walmart’s video streaming service, and is responsible for managing and leading all functions including product innovation, sales, and overall strategy. In addition, Verba leads efforts on digital media platform development across the organization and is heavily involved in the connected home initiatives at Walmart. Prior to Vudu, Verba has led organizations as CEO and General Manager – including president and founder of E! Online, general manager of Zynga and AOL, and CEO of eHarmony. Verba has served as a key advisor to several start-ups, helping to incubate businesses and set them up for growth and success. Verba holds a B.Sc. from MIT and a MBA from Harvard University.