Jeff Wachtel launches Future Shack Entertainment, deals with Roku

Television industry veteran Jeff Wachtel has raised funding and assembled a small team to launch Future Shack Entertainment, a production banner focused on television development for global markets.

Wachtel has agreed with former NBCUniversal executive Sam Michaels and Yusik Choi, formerly CEO of Rothschild & Co. and investment banker at Credit Suisse, to launch the flag with a major financing from private equity funds.

Future Shack has also partnered with Blink49 Studios, the Endeavor content-backed banner launched last year by Entertainment One and Alliance Atlantis alumnus John Moryaniss. Future Shack also has a first-time deal with Roku Channel, one of the many ad-supported channels offered on the MVPD digital platform.

Jeff Wachtel
Adam Olszewski / NBCUniversal

“This is the most disruptive and exciting time our business has seen in more than a generation,” Wachtel said. variety. “The opportunity is for a company that has taste, drive and vision. We believe we can be a creative and commercial launch pad, allowing the best artists to find the best path to success.”

Wachtel aims to center Future Shack around international co-production. A number of experienced US producers are looking for creative talent negotiation and scouting opportunities in markets outside the US thanks to the rise of streamers with global subscriber bases. There is a big push among US industry veterans to take advantage of the low-cost base of production outside the US, as well as copyright rules in the UK and other markets that are more favorable to independent producers.

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Sam Michaels

“We’re creating a new partner-friendly organization, unafraid to break precedents to enable creative freedom and deliver the most impactful stories for our business partners,” said Michaels, who previously served as NBCUniversal’s cable business executive. . .

The pact with Roku Channel specifically covers Future Shack’s development of the “blue sky” drama series that Wachtel became known for during his tenure as head of programming for NBCUniversal’s North American network — think ” Suits”, “Psych”, “Royal Pains”, “White Collar”. ” and “Burn warning”. Wachtel noted that the language of the agreement is amusingly specific to the genre he knows well.

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Yusik Choi

“We believe the rapid growth of the FAST and AVOD networks will continue to create new demand for ad-friendly content, and we are well-positioned to deliver stories to meet this growing demand,” said Choi.

Also joining the Future Shack launch is Larry Sullivan, formerly with Conan O’Brien’s Conaco, as president of creative. Sony Pictures International TV alum Pamela Parker serves as head of corporate affairs. Frances Manfredi, a former content sales executive at NBCU, is an advisor to Future Shack.

Currently, Future Shack is developing projects with the famous author Walter Mosley, in particular his novels “The Long Fall”, “Futureland” and “Debbie Doesn’t Do It Anymore”. The company is working on what it describes as a “radically new take” on Orson Scott Card’s novel “Ender’s Game” with Gigi Pritzker’s Madison Wells. A limited series on the 1991 art theft from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam is also in the works.

Wachtel led programming for USA Network to the height of its success with originals beginning with the Tony Shalhoub-starring “Monk,” which ran from 2002 to 2009. He went on to become president of Universal Content Prods. in 2013. He spent two years in London overseeing NBCU’s international television production operation before departing in 2020.

Wachtel’s time in London and experience as a producer and negotiator made him realize it was a good time to set up a nimble production operation capable of bringing some financing to the table. The amount of investor interest in independently produced content was pleasantly surprising, he said. Wachtel did not elaborate on its private equity partners, but said the company has ample funding to get started.

Future Shack intends to hire a few more executives as the company gets off the ground.

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