MarVista Entertainment Expands Executive Roster

Anita Busch
Deadline

EXCLUSIVE: MarVista Entertainment has just expanded its executive team by hiring veteran and marketing exec Deena Stern as SVP Marketing and Communications and naming Kenny Christmas as SVP Business and Legal Affairs. In addition, the company just promoted Hannah Pillemer to SPV Development and Production.

The hiring comes on the heels of the partnership deal with Elijah Wood’s SpectreVision in which the companies will collaborate on four films within the next two years — that includes the recently wrapped Bitch starring Jason Ritter and Jamie King and director John Singleton’s Rebel, a two-hour police drama pilot produced for BET.

Mar Vista’s current slate includes co-productions with broadcasters including the Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, Hallmark and Lifetime, where the drama pilot Sea Change recently completed production. A Deadly Adoption starring Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig aired last year.

Stern, who formerly had stints at Esquire Network (as SVP Marketing and Digital), Comedy Central and USA Network, will oversee marketing and communications for the MarVista Entertainment brand and the expansive title selection, domestic and international, and lead campaign initiatives for new genres as the studio continues to expand their distribution and content development plans. While at Esquire, she helped to launch 26 original series and oversaw partnership marketing between Esquire and E!

While working in executive posts at Comedy Central and USA Network, she oversaw the marketing for the network’s major initiatives including The Daily Show, South Park, Key and Peele and Workaholics (at Comedy Central) and The Starter Wife, Monk, Psych, and Burn Notice (for USA).

Christmas, who was a former Lionsgate executives, will oversee business transactions in the areas of development, production, finance and distribution of television and film. He also previously had stints at The Tyra Banks Company where he drove the strategy for Tyra’s cosmetic line, Edmonds Entertainment, and Brooklyn Hazelhurst Productions, which was a partnership with actor Vincent D’Onofrio (he focused mainly on Law & Order: Criminal Intent). He cut his teeth at Los Angeles-based law firm of O’Melveny and Myers.

Pillemer first joined the company as a creative executive in 2013. She oversees the feature department, managing a slate of 30 plus films across a wide range of genres and budgets. Most notably, recent successes during her tenure at Mar Vista include Caught, starring Anna Camp (and which premiered at the LA Film Festival), Most Likely to Die, A Deadly Adoption, Satanic, starting Sarah Hyland (in collaboration with Magnolia), and upcoming independent film Bitch in collaboration with SpectreVision.

Previously from HBO Films, Pillemer worked on multiple high profile projects, including the Steven Soderbergh helmed Behind the Candelabra, which starred Michael Douglas and Matt Damon. Prior to HBO, she was director of commercial production for the lifestyle television network Plum TVm but she began her entertainment career as an assistant with producer Lynda Obst on her film The Invention of Lying.

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