Tony DiSanto, Liz Gateley Reveal New Production Company's Development Slate

UPDATED: The former MTV execs officially announced DiGa, their partnership with Ben Silverman's Electus, at NATPE Monday morning.

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. — DiGa Vision, created by former MTV programming gurus Tony DiSanto and Liz Gateley and bankrolled by Ben Silverman’s Electus, is developing its first slate of shows with the likes of Jimmy Kimmel, Adam Corolla, Nick Cannon and fashion expert Jill Martin.

The company, at NATPE this week, says it has three projects in development with Jackhole Industries, the production company run by Kimmel, Carolla and Daniel Kellison. Jackhole produces Jimmy Kimmel Live! on ABC and was behind The Man Show and Crank Yankers on Comedy Central.

One project is a reality comedy show for which Kimmel wrote the pitch. Another, primarily developed by Carolla, is a reality competition show that DiSanto said is “a competition realty show with a comedic twist.” 

"We are close to taking these out," Gateley said. "We are strategizing which networks to take them to.”

It is unlikely that Kimmel or Carolla will appear in any of them.

DiGa and Cannon’s NCredible Entertainment are developing a show, likely for cable, that's centered around Amanda Diva, a hip-hop/soul singer who has done a show for Sirius XM and an online talk show.

And Martin, author of Fashion for Dummies and the upcoming I Have Nothing to Wear, is developing a fashion series with DiGa that will have an interactive element.

DiGa also will benefit from series and pilot commitments that DiSanto and Gateley have brought with them from MTV Networks.

DiSanto, as president of programming at MTV, and Gateley, senior vp of series development, left MTV in September to form DiGa. Series they helped bring to MTV include Jersey Shore, 16 and Pregnant, The Hard Times of RJ Berger and Teen Mom, and they are exec producers on Teen Wolf, the MTV series based on the 1985 movie that debuts this summer.

To fill DiGa’s executive ranks, DiSanto and Gateley have turned to two former MTV associates.

Mike Powers has been named creative executive, with responsibility for managing production and development. He supervised MTV’s Total Request Live and exec produced the first two seasons of MTV’s MADE. Before becoming an independent producer in 2008, Powers was exec producer of the MTV series College Life, Sex With Mom and Dad, the Buried Life and World of Jenks.

Working with Powers will be Scott Silberman as executive in charge of production. He served MTV for seven years as a supervising and line producer.

Electus, a division of Barry Diller’s IAC, describes itself as a multimedia entertainment studio. Its goal is to “unite producers, creators, advertisers and distributors under one roof and produce all forms of content for distribution across a variety of platforms.”

On Jan. 18, Electus announced the acquisition of Engine Entertainment and the formation of its own international distribution arm, Electus/Engine Distribution. It is headed by Chris Philip, who had been Engine CEO.

Silverman is known for his ability to involve advertisers in his shows. DiSanto called him “a visionary in the television, digital and branded entertainment worlds,” adding that “his mastery of distribution and sponsor relations coupled with our hands-on development and producing experience will allow us to establish DiGa as a formidable content studio.”

In terms of what they want to produce, Gateley said she and DiSanto are “fans of content that makes a cultural impact … that resonates in pop culture.”

DiGa, a combination of DiSanto and Gateley’s last names, means “to speak” in Spanish.

Read the full release after the jump: [pagebreak]

NEW YORK – January 24th, 2011 –Tony DiSanto and Liz Gateley, the executives responsible for the development and creation of many of MTV’s biggest hits, and the key engineers in MTV’s recent ratings turnaround, today announced the formation of their new company, DiGa, with details on several new creative projects, ongoing series deals and pilot commitments, and initial executive appointments. DiGa, an independent production company, will create, develop and produce programming across all platforms in partnership with Ben Silverman<http://www.electus.com/company>'s <http://www.electus.com/company>  multimedia studio, Electus<http://www.electus.com/ <http://www.electus.com/> >, an operating business of IAC [NASDAQ: IACI].  The company will be headquartered in New York City with a production/edit center in Los Angeles.

DiGa will leverage the signature style and unique voice of its founding partners to create and produce prime-time cable and network reality and scripted shows, feature films and digital content. The company’s approach to both scripted and unscripted content will include the on-point cultural relevance, distinctive visuals, and seamless execution that made DiSanto and Gateley’s shows so successful at MTV. The duo will employ creative diversity across a variety of genres and mediums with an eye towards reinvention, genre busting and commercial appeal, while continuing to discover, nurture and collaborate with great talent in front of and behind the camera.

With the formation of DiGa, the company is also today releasing an early look at several exclusive television projects in development, including: a comedy format from Nick Cannon’s NCredible Entertainment starring female personality Amanda Diva; a fashion series with an interactive element from Jill Martin, television personality and author of “Fashion for Dummies” and the upcoming “I Have Nothing to Wear”; three series with Jackhole Industries, Jimmy Kimmel, Adam Carolla and Daniel Kellison’s production company whose credits include ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live and Comedy Central’s The Man Show and Crank Yankers; DiGa also has a number of scripted and reality concepts in active development. DiSanto and Gateley will continue to have a strong relationship with MTV Networks through multiple series development commitments between MTV and DiGa, as well as through DiSanto and Gateley's continued role as executive producers on the upcoming scripted MTV series Teen Wolf, a reinvention of the 1985 blockbuster film.

“Liz and I are thrilled to partner and form DiGa, the next logical step in our career as we look to expand on the work we did together at MTV as producers and executives. We look forward to creating and developing content in a variety of mediums and for new outlets, while also continuing a great relationship with MTV Networks, our long time home,” said Tony DiSanto, co-founder, DiGa. "We are also thrilled to align with Ben Silverman’s Electus as Ben is a visionary in the television, digital and branded entertainment worlds. His mastery of distribution and sponsor relations coupled with our hands-on development and producing experience will allow us to establish DiGa as a formidable content studio."

In 2009, DiSanto was named President of Programming of MTV where together, he and Gateley led MTV to new ratings and commercial heights with the shows Teen Mom, Jersey Shore and 16 and Pregnant. The duo was also responsible for ushering in a return to scripted programming with Hard Times of RJ Berger and the scripted series Teen Wolf. DiSanto and Gateley left MTV in December 2010 on the heels of the network’s largest ratings gain in over a decade.
“Tony and I have been working closely together at MTV for the past several years so it is a natural transition for us to become partners in this new venture,” said Liz Gateley, co-founder, DiGa.  “We are fans of content that makes a cultural impact --whether it’s a series, a book or a film. That was our philosophy at MTV and we will strive to do the same at DiGa – to create quality content that resonates in pop culture.”
The symbiotic partnership with Electus gives DiGa the support and freedom to focus on great creative, while tapping into Ben’s genius at creating new models and marketplace foresight. Electus will retain exclusive distribution rights to all content and programming produced by the company with Electus’ International Distribution<http://www.electus.com/partners <http://www.electus.com/partners> > division distributing their projects internationally and aligning them with Electus’ advertising and marketing partners.

“Tony and Liz are two of the most talented and sought-after creators and show producers in the entertainment industry,” said Ben Silverman, CEO and founder of Electus. “With their dual expertise, experience developing and producing hit shows and their relationships in the community, DiGa will be a huge asset to Electus and a continued creative force in the industry.”

DiGa also announced the appointment of two members of its executive management team. Producer Mike Powers has been named Creative Executive, where he will be responsible for managing production and development for all DiGa ongoing projects. Working alongside Powers, Scott Silberman will serve as Executive in Charge of Production.

DiSanto, who first started out as an MTV production assistant in 1989, quickly rose through the ranks and built a highly successful twenty year career at the network. Earlier in his tenure at MTV, DiSanto was responsible for co-creating and developing hit shows including Total Request Live with Carson Daly, the biggest daily entertainment show MTV had ever done, Made, Human Giant, Andy Milonakis and Jersey Shore. In 2003, DiSanto served as MTV’s Head of Production where he supervised the studio, specials and events including Spring Break, New Year’s Eve and the MTV Beach House. He then went on to start an East Coast Development department for MTV and brought Gateley in to run it. In June 2009, DiSanto was appointed President of Programming of MTV where he oversaw all series, series development, special programming and production, supervised reality, scripted, specials, live programming, comedy, animation and feature films for television. He also led and provided oversight to program planning and scheduling for the network, where he led MTV through the highest ratings in the channel’s history.

Gateley joined MTV in 2003 as the Vice President of Development and quickly worked her way up to become Head of Series Development for MTV.  In her first year at MTV she created the game-changing reality show Laguna Beach and executive produced the spin-off, The Hills. Other hits under Gateley’s tenure included Run’s House and America’s Best Dance Crew. In addition, Gateley developed the scripted series Hard Times of RJ Berger and the upcoming series Teen Wolf and That Girl (working title). Most recently, Gateley developed and executive produced two of MTV's newest reality hits, 16 and Pregnant and the pop culture sensation Teen Mom.  Prior to MTV, Ms. Gateley worked at Lifetime Television where she was responsible for the development of primetime and daytime scripted and reality original series and specials, including Strong Medicine, The Division, Intimate Portrait and Weddings of a Lifetime.

Powers has been involved in television production and development for the past twenty years.   He worked with DiSanto on launching and supervising Total Request Live, executive produced the first two seasons of MTV’s Emmy award-winning series Made and in 2003, Powers joined MTV’s East Coast Development department shepherding hit shows such as Roomraiders, Boiling Points, House, The X-Effect, Maui Fever and Life Of Ryan onto the air.  In 2008, Powers became an independent producer and has since served as Executive Producer on a variety of MTV shows including College Life, Sex With Mom and Dad, The Buried Life and World Of Jenks, the latter of which was the highest-rated series premiere in MTV’s history. Over the course of his career, Powers has garnered numerous awards including a TV Guide Award for Total Request Live and a Peabody Award for Excellence in Broadcasting for a TV special on the band Good Charlotte.

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