Next Gen 2007: New Media
35 executives who are shaping the future of Hollywood todayDEAN'S LIST: Saying that the members of The Hollywood Reporter's Next Generation Class of 2007 are "most likely to succeed" isn't quite accurate because these accomplished individuals can honestly say they already have made it. And the editors and reporters who researched, deliberated and eventually chose this year's list wholeheartedly agree. The 14th annual edition is a roundup of the most talented executives in film, television, representation, legal and new media, all age 35 and under. It's not intended as a power list, but rather an unveiling of the leaders of tomorrow.
Executive vp digital distribution and business development, MTV Networks
Born: Feb. 11, 1972
Where else but digital entertainment would Greg Clayman end up given how he took interest in both technology and creative arts as a child. By 12 years old, he was in computer camp during the summer; by the time he finished high school, he had written a play that was put on at the prestigious Young Playwrights Festival, where one part was played by Harold Perrineau, who would go on to star on "Lost." "I've always had a real technology bent, but loved to explore the arts as well," Clayman says. MTVN EVOLUTION: After stints at Time Warner and launching his own mobile company, Upoc, Clayman came to MTVN at a time when it was just starting to articulate its digital strategy. "What's exciting about this gig in general is that three years ago it was a completely different business," he says. Under Clayman's direction, MTVN is a global mobile powerhouse popular on every carrier deck; the company generates 5 million wireless streams each month in the U.S. alone. Once an obscure division of MTVN, the mobile unit is now on the radar of any content production in progress. "What's happening here is that digital is integrated more and more at every level of the company," he said. EXPANSION PLANS: In July, Clayman was moved up from senior vp mobile media to a key role managing all digital dealings at MTVN under Mika Salmi, president of global digital media. The promotion was not only a reflection of Clayman's hard work, but how mobile is just as important as online to companies across the industry. "More and more teams are combining all digital distribution so that the conversations affect more than just mobile," Clayman says. GETTING DOWN: Clayman devotes both mind and body to his job. To promote the MTVN original mobile series "Dances From Tha Hood" at his CTIA keynote address, he trained with pro choreographers to dance in front of hundreds of people. "It was the most nerve-racking thing I've ever done professionally," Clayman confesses. "After doing that dance, the keynote was the easiest thing in the world."
Born: April 5, 1973
It took Keith Richman a few tries before he found the right place to channel his interests in technology and entertainment. He worked in corporate planning at Disney right out of college, but found it too slow-paced. He switched to the Internet side of the business, even launching a few startups -- one of which he sold to eBay -- but nothing that really got his pulse racing. "The software business can be horribly boring," Richman recalls. He arrived in Los Angeles in 2002 looking to do something fun. He managed to get a job as an assistant at Broder Webb Chervin Silbermann Agency, which kindled an interest in Hollywood. But it wasn't until after he left and acquired a little-known site called Big-Boy.com in 2005 that he found his passion. "I started to do a lot of research on online video and realized how big this could be," he says. BREAKING OUT: Since changing the name of the site to Break.com, Richman has watched his acquisition become one of the biggest destinations for online video. In May, the addition of advertising made Break.com a growing business. "We successfully integrated ads without alienating the user base," Richman says. "That was huge for us." IN LIONSGATE'S DEN: Honing in on the hard-to-reach male 18-34 demographic, the site got the ultimate validation in July when Lionsgate spent $21 million to take a significant stake in the company. He's also hooking Break with professional video, making deals with the likes of NBC Universal Digital Studios for shortform content. With ad revenue coming in, Break was able to be more than just a place for amateur video, actually paying for great content and selling advertising around it. HIS NEXT GOAL: "I am utterly convinced in the next two years there will be a property that launches on Break.com that will move to traditional media," he says.
senior vp digital platforms, Universal
Born: Nov. 6, 1975
As a consultant fresh out of school -- Harvard and then Wharton -- Adam Rymer was first bitten by the digital bug when surfing the Internet in its early days and stumbling upon a search engine for free (and illegal) music. "Something about it got my blood flowing," Rymer says. "I knew it was something that was going to change entertainment, and it started me thinking about how I could do more of that thing." On the legal side, of course. DIGITAL-MINDED: Rymer has been active on numerous fronts for Universal's digital efforts. He led the charge for deployment of digital cinema, striking a key deal this summer with Arts Alliance Media to change 7,000 screens in Europe. He also oversees Universal's electronic sell-through and video-on-demand business. For mobile, Rymer has strategized development of off-deck content platforms for Universal assets, in addition to producing original shortform entertainment. "Digital distribution will only get more and more important," he said. GAME ON: An increasingly big priority for Rymer is video games, where Universal is looking to experiment with existing business models for exploiting intellectual property. "Scarface" has already proven that a Universal concept can succeed as both a film and video game. The 2008 Angelina Jolie film "Wanted" has a video game release scheduled this year, and down the road don't be surprised to see more video games precede their movie tie-ins. "You can tell a brief part of a story in film form -- but in a grander scheme in a game," Rymer explains. "There's a chance to build a film's audience off of a video game." LEFT TO HIS OWN DEVICES: Keeping abreast of the myriad digital applications affecting his business has resulted in Rymer's television sprouting more wires than the number of tentacles on a squid -- connecting his TV to his Xbox, TiVo, DirecTV and more. "Anyone who comes over can't figure out how to get my TV to work," Rymer says. "It took a lot of effort not to call in sick the day after 'Halo 3' came out."
Born: April 11, 1975
Before launching his new company in July with an eye toward financing and syndicating online video content, Brent Weinstein learned the business at UTA in the digital media division, where he started at the agency. Not bad for a guy who admits it took a lot for him to leave a comfy corporate law job fresh out of University of San Diego School of Law to try to make it in Hollywood. "I always wanted to be an agent, but it took me some time before I had the courage to try," Weinstein says. "Best decision I ever made." The Vancouver, Wash., native tried some innovative experiments at UTA to mine talent online. The agency struck a deal with Veoh Networks in January to launch a channel devoted entirely to finding fresh talent. FILLING THE FRAMES: After six years at UTA, he's already onto the next phase of his career at 60Frames, which is busy packaging a slate of online video series. The goal is more quality than quantity, and he is talking to recognizable names on both sides of the camera to contribute to what could be the next generation in viral programming. 60Frames doesn't produce the series, but brings together the artists and sponsors who can make it happen. After repping digital-minded artists, he saw an opportunity to help craft the business model for a medium still in its infancy. "I noticed there wasn't much on the buy side of the business," he said. Now with clients like filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen, as well as $3.5 million in capital from Tudor Investment Corp. and the Pilot Group, he is working the other side of the fence. Also in 60Frames' corner: Spot Runner, the advertising technology firm with investments of its own from the likes of CBS Corp. and WPP Group. FACING OLD FRIENDS: His work at 60Frames means he now occasionally has to sit on the opposite side of the table from the UTA agents with whom he once sat side by side. "I'm negotiating against them now," Weinstein says. "They're using all my tactics against me."