After months of speculation and negotiations, Reveille and Electus founder Ben Silverman has officially teamed up with his former close associate Howard T. Owens at his A+E Networks-backed independent production company Propagate Content. Silverman has been named Chairman and Co-Chief Executive Officer. Owens, who had been CEO since Propagate’s 2015 launch, will serve as co-CEO of the company, which has received an additional round of investment from A+E Networks. (Former A&E general manager David McKillop, who had partnered with Owens at Propagate’s inception and served as chief creative officer, is no longer at the company.)
Silverman, who recently exited Electus, and Howard hinted at their pending partnering a couple of weeks ago when the two were unveiled as producers alongside Will.i.am on Apple’s first original TV series, an unscripted show about app developers. That is now officially a Propagate production. The company, which is expanding its programming slate to span all genres including scripted series, longform and non-scripted content for all platforms worldwide as well as format creation and global distribution, has unveiled its initial slate.
Silverman, who had been focused on scripted programming in his final years at Electus, is bringing several scripted projects to Propagate. They include Isn’t that Rich?, adapted by Amy Harris from Richard Kirshenbaum’s book with ABC Studios; Red Team, from the book, for Amazon as a one-hour; a project at Netflix; as well as a Latin cultural documentary produced with Gina Rodriguez, star of the Silverman-produced Jane The Virgin; and Morgan Spurlock.
Propagate’s existing slate is dominated by unscripted fare, with a number of shows already in the production pipeline. In the year since its March 2015 launch, the company has developed a number of projects that have quietly landed series greenlights, mostly at A+E networks. That includes Evil Geniuses (working title), a 10-part anthology series for History that exposes the ingenious inventions and diabolical plans behind the world’s most successful crimes; What The… (working title), a 10-episode multi-platform factual entertainment series for History that redefines moments in history by providing shareable content in bite-sized form; My So-Called Simple Life (working title), a 10-episode reality series for FYI documenting modern-day families seeking happiness in a life off the grid; a provocative new series for Lifetime profiling Vivica A. Fox; and Animal ER, a series following the doctors and stories of one of the busiest animal emergency centers in America for Nat Geo Wild. In February, the company launched Fall Into Me, its first short-form series featuring eight romantic dramas for today’s tech-savvy woman, on A+E Networks’ digital platform.
“As a global media company, A+E Networks’ number one priority is diversifying our content offerings, and investing in Propagate is a key part of this strategy,” said Nancy Dubuc, President and CEO of A+E Networks. “I have always admired Ben and Howard’s long and lucrative track record of building thriving businesses together. They are two of Hollywood’s most impressive and prolific producers and we are very much looking forward to our successful partnership as they develop and produce multi-platform content for the global marketplace.”
Silverman and Owens’ relationship goes back a decade and a half. Owens was Reveille’s first employee when Silverman launched the company in 2002; he was one of a core troika Silverman brought with him from WMA. The two have remained close since. Coincidentally, both did a stint running a network — Silverman NBC, Owens National Geographic Channel — post-Reveille before both returning to independent producing.
“There is no media leader who sees around corners with more creative clarity than Ben,” said Owens. “His creative and business track records are second to none in the world of TV and Digital Content. Ben’s skill at leading, inspiring, and managing creatives always results in creating companies that are best-in-class worldwide in premium content creation and alternative distribution models.”
Most recently, Silverman was Founder and Chairman of Electus, which he launched in 2009 in partnership with IAC. There, he executive produced such series as the CW’s Jane the Virgin, NBC’s Fashion Star, Netflix’s Marco Polo and Flaked, Amazon’s Casanova, as well as King of the Nerds, Separation Anxiety and Wake Up Call, starring Dwayne The Rock Johnson for TNT, Adam Ruins Everything and Fameless for TruTV, Running Wild with Bear Grylls on NBC, and Bet On Your Baby for ABC. Silverman has produced feature films including Mansome and Hands of Stone, the upcoming biopic of Roberto Duran starring Robert De Niro, Usher and Edgar Ramirez, as well as Clemente, the Roberto Clemente biopic.
Silverman joined Propagate after exploring a number of options about launching a new company with various financial backers. He had been interested in aligning with an established media company owning a network, which would help get a pipeline going by putting shows on the air. .
“I love starting and building companies while at the same time creating and enriching global culture,” Silverman said. “Howard is a brilliant executive with an incredible work ethic and great taste, and he shares a creative-led vision for a global content platform. It is an incredible time for story tellers and we are thrilled to reunite backed by friends who love story telling as much as we do.