Amazon is developing a series inspired by the true story of a man who sold shares of himself to investors, Variety has learned.
The series hails from Amazon Studios and Sony Pictures Television. Merlrill and Nick Van Der Kolk will co-executive produce. Andrew Guest will serve as writer and executive producer on the project. Matt Tolmach, former co-head of production for Sony Pictures, will executive produce along with David Manpearl via Matt Tolmach Productions.
Guest's past credits "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," "30 Rock," "Suburgatory," and "Marry Me." He is repped by Mosaic.
In a competitive situation, Amazon has landed the project, titled "JNNA." It is described as a half-hour comedy about the next big investment craze — humans. In return for the investment, shareholders got to vote on decisions he made with his life. It is inspired by Mike Merrill, who decided to sell 100,000 shares of himself at $1 a piece.
Tolmach served as an executive producer on both "Spider-Man: Homecoming" and the recent sequel "Spider-Man: Far From Home." He previously produced the two "Amazing Spider-Man" films as well as films like "Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle" and its upcoming sequel, "Venom," and the upcoming "Morbius." He is also an executive producer on the Hulu series "Future Man."” />

Both he and Hopkins argued that ad-supported video services needed to consolidate to attract more money from big brands. “It doesn’t make a lot of sense for there to be hundreds of AVOD networks,” Rouhana said. “Roughly 50% of the VOD (market) revenue will come from advertising,” Rouhana said.
CSS Entertainment will contribute its own ad-supported video services Popcornflix, Truli, Popcornflix Kids, Popcornflix Comedy, Frightpix, and Espanolflix, as well as the subscription video services company Pivotshare. Rouhana said Popcornflix and Crackle would remain unchanged for the time being, but that there would likely be some differentiation between the two services over time.
“We think it’s a big opportunity,” Hopkins said.” /> Even with big competitors, Crackle Plus will aim to be a major player in the AVOD space, according to the two executives. The new company will have access to over 38,500 hours of programming, and will serve close to 10 million monthly active users across its services, who collectively stream over 1.3 billion minutes per month.
Sony acquired Crackle all the way back in 2006, when the service was still known as Grouper. In the following years, it built out Crackle as an ad-supported video service, making use of both Sony’s catalog of movies and TV shows, as well as investing in original content. One of the best-known shows on Crackle was Jerry Seinfeld’s web series "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee," which played on the service for nine seasons before moving to Netflix.
Rouhana said he didn’t expect Crackle Plus to need any further cash infusions. So why not sell Crackle outright? “We will run this as a profitable business,” he said. The logic for the deal ultimately comes down to the fact that it allows Sony to profit from any upside without having to sink more money into the video service.
Sony Pictures Television has found of a new home for its Crackle ad-supported streaming service: The company struck a deal with Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment (CSS Entertainment) to launch a new joint venture — dubbed Crackle Plus — that will also run Popcornflix, other streaming channels, and adjacent online video businesses.
Ladenburg Thalmann & Co. Sony began to look at strategic alternatives for Crackle last summer, and at the time retained investment bank Moelis & Co., which ultimately also represented the company in this deal. served as the adviser to CSS Entertainment.
“We look at the AVOD [ad-supported video-on-demand] market as being ripe for innovation,” Hopkins said. In an exclusive interview with Variety, Sony Pictures Television chairman Mike Hopkins, and CSS Entertainment chairman and CEO Bill Rouhana both described the partnership as a way to better take advantage of the opportunity of ad-supported video.
Sony Entertainment’s New Media Services will provide the back-end tech for the joint venture, and Sony Pictures Television is also licensing movies and TV shows from the Sony Pictures catalog to Crackle Plus. Sony will contribute Crackle’s U.S. brand, its user base, and its advertising business to the joint venture.
Ad-supported video has gotten a lot of attention in recent months. In January, Viacom plunked down $340 million to acquire AVOD startup Pluto. Meanwhile, Walmart has been building out the ad-supported part of its Vudu service; Roku has been growing its ad-supported Roku Channel; upstart Tubi recently committed to spending $100 million on the licensing of ad-supported content; and Amazon’s IMDb launched its own ad-supported video entertainment service in January.
“It wasn’t our core business,” Hopkins admitted. “It wasn’t our core skill set.” Going forward, Sony will focus more on its core competencies — namely the production and distribution of content, he said.
The company laid off some Crackle staffers last year, and it has closed both Crackle’s Canada and Latin America businesses over the past nine months. However, there have been signs for some time that Sony wanted to exit the business.
The companies didn’t disclose any further financial details of the arrangement. Sony Pictures Television chief digital officer Eric Berger, who had been running Crackle, is expected to leave the company once the deal closes. CSS Entertainment will own the majority of the new company, and Sony will in turn receive 4 million five-year warrants to purchase Class A common stock of CSS Entertainment at various price points.

The sands in the hourglass will continue to flow for yet another year,” said executive producer Ken Corday. We can’t wait for you to see what we have in store.” “We’re grateful to NBC and Sony for their continued support of the show and, of course, to our dedicated and passionate fans, we owe it all to you. “It’s a great day in Salem! Thank you for taking us through our 55th season.
It is executive produced by Corday, Greg Meng and Albert Alarr, with Ron Carlivati as head writer.” /> in association with Sony Pictures Television. “Days of our Lives” is produced by Corday Productions, Inc.
Recently having aired its 13,500th episode in 2018, this renewal firmly establishes the iconic, 57-time Emmy Award-winning soap as the network's longest running program, having been on television since 1965.
“Ken Corday and his cast and crew continue to build on the strong legacy of dynamic storytelling and intriguing characters in ‘Days of our Lives.’ We are proud that audiences both in the U.S. and around the world will get to enjoy this award-winning series for another year," said Steve Kent, Senior Executive Vice President of Programming at Sony Pictures Television.
NBC's long-running daytime television series, "Days of Our Lives," has been renewed for a record-breaking 55th season.
Set in the fictional Midwestern town of Salem, "Days of our Lives" follows the Brady, Horton and DiMera families, dipping into comedy, romance, adventure, mystery, and of course, drama. "Days of Our Lives" airs on NBC in the US, as well as 25 more countries around the globe. In 2017, it's 53rd season saw a 4% increase in viewership from the season before.

Writer Glen Dolman has done a tremendous job in localizing the genre, and we look forward to seeing his vision come to life, especially with the cast involved.” “It is excellent to see Stan continuously commissioning such unique Australian series,” said Sally Caplan, head of production at Screen Australia. “We’re thrilled to be supporting ‘Bloom’ and were intrigued by this highly distinctive sci-fi concept.
The lead cast includes Bryan Brown (“The Light Between Oceans,” ”Gods of Egypt”), Phoebe Tonkin (“Safe Harbour,” “The Vampire Diaries”), Ryan Corr (“Holding the Man,” “Hacksaw Ridge”), Daniel Henshall (“Okja,” “The Babadook”), and Sam Reid (“Prime Suspect 1973,” “The Railway Man”).
The plant’s phenomenal ability to restore youth is so formidable that attempting to harness it means re-evaluating values. The story takes place a year after a devastating flood has killed five locals in an idyllic country town, and when a mysterious new plant appears. It is a miracle some will kill to keep secret.
Other cast include Genevieve Morris (“No Activity”), Anne Charleston (“Prisoner Cell Block H”), Terry Norris (“The Dressmaker”), Amali Golden, Nicki Sheils, Tessa Rose, John Stanton, and Rod Mullinar.
Production is by Sue Seeary and shot by AACTA-winning cinematographer Geoff Hall. The series is created by Glen Dolman (“Hawke,” “High Life” and “The Ark and the Ardvaark”). The series is directed by John Curran (“Chappaquiddick,” “The Painted Veil”) and Mat King (“Pine Gap,” “Dr Who,” “Law & Order United Kingdom”).
Other Stan originals include the “Romper Stomper” series, the “Wolf Creek” series, and film “The Second.”” />
With finance from Stan and federal funding body Screen Australia, production is now under way in Victoria state. Sony Pictures Television will distribute outside Australia.
Australia’s two-time Oscar-nominated actress Jacki Weaver (“Silver Linings Playbook,” “Animal Kingdom”) heads the cast of sci-fi series “Bloom.” An original commission for Australian streaming platform Stan, the six-part series is produced by Sony Pictures Television’s Playmaker.

Crackle is headed by general manager Eric Berger, who also carries the title of chief digital officer at Sony Pictures Television Networks.
as part of the process to identify potential partners. Sony has engaged investment bank Moelis & Co. Other potential partners include another media and entertainment company with a large content library and TV networks that could be promotional vehicles for Crackle, or a telecom business with high-scale direct-to-consumer reach. The kinds of partners Sony is looking at teaming with on Crackle may include another ad-supported VOD provider, which could expand the variety and scope of content on Crackle and also grow its user base.
SPT also recently introduced new branding for Crackle, incorporating Sony into the logo.
Sony Pictures Television is looking to sell a piece of Crackle, its free, ad-supported streaming network, with the aim of boosting its revenue and becoming more competitive.
Sony Pictures TV laid off 12 staffers from the Crackle unit in May. According to Sony, Crackle apps have been downloaded more than 100 million times to date and the service is available in 20 countries around the globe. In June, SPT shut down the Canada version of Crackle, with some content to be available on Bell Media’s new VOD services.
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SPT has contemplated selling a stake in Crackle — and the outright sale of the entire division — off and on over the last several years. Way back in 2006, Sony acquired web-video startup called Grouper for $65 million, which became Crackle.
In the meantime, a small group is working on the potential partnership so that the rest of our teams can operate business as usual, focusing on their day-to-day work and commitments to help ensure Crackle remains the premiere AVOD platform.
As we build and grow our direct-to-consumer businesses, I want to make you all aware that we have begun theprocess of exploring potential partnerships for Sony Crackle to drive scale and position the streaming network to be more competitive. I have some news to share.
Crackle is a tremendously valuable asset for us, and with premium AVOD getting more and more traction as advertisers seek high value online advertising opportunities, we feel there is room for greater growth for our OTT business. With the right partner – one that could bring additional content or users or leverage existing assets for advertising and promotion – we feel we can expandCrackle’s audience and significantly increase revenue.
Hopkins continued, "With the right partner — one that could bring additional content or users or leverage existing assets for advertising and promotion — we feel we can expand Crackle's audience and significantly increase revenue."
Read Hopkins' full memo:
Hello everyone,
"Crackle is a tremendously valuable asset for us, and with premium AVOD [advertising video-on-demand] getting more and more traction as advertisers seek high value online advertising opportunities, we feel there is room for greater growth for our OTT business," the exec wrote.
Mike Hopkins, the former Hulu chief who joined Sony Pictures Television as chairman last fall, outlined the potential move to bring in an equity partner for Sony Crackle in a memo to staff Monday.
In June, as part of a restructuring, Sony Pictures Television also formed a direct-to-consumer unit headed by Berger, who reports to Hopkins. That brought together Crackle and Sony’s other direct-to-consumer channels — Funimation, Film1 OTT and Animax on demand — under Berger's oversight.