Awards Landscape Rocked as Netflix Poaches Leading Strategist Lisa Taback (Exclusive)

Taback, who has worked on the campaigns of seven eventual best picture Oscar winners, will report directly to Ted Sarandos.
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Lisa Taback

In a development that will significantly shake up Hollywood's awards community, strategist Lisa Taback has signed a deal with Netflix to exclusively provide her services to the streaming giant, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

Taback, among the most successful and sought-after Hollywood awards strategists of the past 25 years, will move in-house from LT-LA, the independent consulting firm she has run since 1994. She will bring her four closest collaborators — Albert Tello, Christy Grosz, Kelly Dalton and Liv Moore — as well as some junior staffers.

Netflix has become a major player in the annual Oscar and Emmy races — last week, it snapped HBO's streak of topping the Emmy nominations scoreboard after 17 years, landing 112 noms versus the pay cabler's 108 — but it has yet to win a top prize at either ceremony, something that is believed to rankle its leadership. Awards attention is seen as a major differentiating factor in the marketing of film and television, and is key to attracting new subscribers to services like Netflix. Its biggest wins thus far have been the best TV movie Emmy, awarded to Black Mirror's "San Junipero" episode last September, and the best documentary feature Oscar, awarded to Icarus in March.

Taback, whose new title is vp talent relations and who will step into the new post Aug. 1, will head a department to be comprised of her former LT-LA colleagues and others. In a sign of how seriously Netflix takes the awards races, Taback will report directly to chief content officer Ted Sarandos. She also will be reunited with and work alongside her former Weinstein Co. colleagues Stephen Bruno, vp global creative marketing, and Spencer Peeples, director of awards.

"Lisa and her team have a reputation as the best of the best when it comes to talent and awards and I'm thrilled to bring them to Netflix," Sarandos said Wednesday in a statement announcing Taback's appointment. "We want to continue to expand and deepen our efforts to celebrate the incredible creators and talent who bring their dream projects to Netflix."

Hollywood's sprawling awards industry will undoubtedly be jolted by Taback's move. Not only will Netflix now be a more formidable player than ever before, but operations that previously consulted with Taback, like A24 and Open Road, will almost certainly now have to seek help elsewhere — which will be welcome news among other awards strategists who had long been boxed out of those opportunities.

Taback established her bona fides — and learned how to fight with her gloves off — as a top West Coast event planner and strategist for Harvey Weinstein and Bob Weinstein's Miramax and later The Weinstein Co. She played an instrumental role in the campaigns that resulted in best picture Oscars for The English Patient (1996), Shakespeare in Love (1998), Chicago (2002), The King's Speech (2010) and The Artist (2011), as well as prizes for dozens of individual artists such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Roberto Benigni, Kate Winslet and Quentin Tarantino.

In 2014, after 20 years of working on a mostly exclusive basis with the Weinsteins — Taback received dispensation to work with Paramount on The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and DreamWorks Animation on a number of their campaigns, among other exceptions — the two parties severed their relationship. Taback then became a highly in-demand free agent, prompting her to bolster her team at LT-LA, adding Grosz, a former journalist; Tello, a former music publicist; and Dalton, a former Toronto-area publicist. (Moore joined the team in 2017.) The following Oscar season, they helped to guide the campaigns of the eventual winners of best picture (Spotlight), best actress (Room's Brie Larson), best original screenplay (Spotlight's Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer), best documentary feature (Amy) and best original song (Spectre's "Writing's on the Wall").

Two seasons ago, Taback worked on both La La Land and Moonlight, and last year she helped propel several female filmmakers to historic recognition: Lady Bird's Greta Gerwig to only the fifth best director nom for a woman; Mudbound's Rachel Morrison to the first best cinematography nom for a woman; Mudbound's Mary J. Blige to the first acting and best original song noms in the same year; and Mudbound's Dee Rees to the first best adapted screenplay nom for a black woman. She also began wading into the Emmys arena in earnest, becoming NBC's primary consultant and helping to guide the Peacock Network to banner showings last year, when This Is Us became the first broadcast show to crack into the best drama series category in six years and Saturday Night Live had its best showing in its decades-long history, and this year, when the network far outpaced broadcast's three other major outlets.

Under the terms of her Netflix deal, Taback, who declined to comment, will continue to consult with a limited number of her existing clients through the end of the current Emmy season and possibly through the end of the coming Oscar season, as well.

July 18, 2:05 p.m. Updated to include statement from Ted Sarandos.