Jeff Wachtel launches Future Shack Entertainment after closing deal 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 developing television for global markets.

Wachtel struck a deal with former NBCUniversal executive Sam Michaels and Yusik Choi, a former managing director at Rothschild & Co. and investment banker Credit Suisse, to launch a banner with significant funding from private equity funds.

Future Shack has also partnered with Blink49 Studios, the Endeavor Content banner launched last year by Entertainment One and Alliance Atlantis alum John Moraniss. Future Shack also has a prime deal with Roku Channel, one of the many ad-supported channels offered on MVPD’s digital platform.

Jeff Wachtel
Adam Olszewski / NBCUniversal

“This is the most disruptive and exciting time our business has seen in generations,” Wachtel said Variety. “The opportunity is there for a company that has the taste, drive and vision. We believe that we can become 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 dealmaking and talent opportunities in markets outside the US thanks to the growing number of streamers with global subscriber bases. There is a big push among US industry veterans to take advantage of lower production costs outside the US and copyright rules in the UK and other markets that are more favorable to independent producers.

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Sam Michaels

“We’re building a new, partner-friendly organization that’s not afraid to break precedent to ensure creative freedom and deliver the most impactful stories for our business partners,” said Michaels, who previously served as business manager for NBCUniversal’s cable side. .

The Roku deal specifically covers Future Shack’s development of the blue-sky drama series Wachtel became known for during his tenure as head programmer for the NBCUniversal USA Network — think Suits, Psycho, Royal Pains, White Collar “. ” and “Burn notice”. Wachtel noted that the language in the agreement is strangely specific to a genre he knows well.

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Yusik Tsoi

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

Also joining the Future Shack launch is Larry Sullivan, formerly of Conan O’Brien’s Conaco, as President of Creative. Pamela Parker, a graduate of Sony Pictures International TV, serves as Head of Commercial Affairs. Francis Manfredi, former senior content sales manager at NBCU, is an advisor to Future Shack.

Future Shack is currently developing projects with acclaimed author Walter Mosley, including his novels The Long Fall, Futureland, and Debbie Doesn’t Does It More. The company is working on what is described as a “radical new take” on Orson Scott Card’s novel Ender’s Game with Gigi Pritzker’s Madison Wells. Also in the works is a limited series about the theft of works of art from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam in 1991.

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

Wachtel’s time in London, as well as his experience as a producer and clerk, made him realize that now was a good time to create a nimble production capable of attracting some funding. According to him, the interest of investors in the content of independent production pleasantly surprised. Wachtel would not elaborate on its private equity partners, but said the company has sufficient financial resources to get off the ground.

Future Shack intends to bring on a few more executives as the company goes live.

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