EXCLUSIVE: The Jewish non-profit Reboot has launched its own production company Reboot Studios, which will provide seed funding for and develop Jewish content across theater, television, film, podcasts, music and publishing.
The new banner stems from Reboot’s past successes funding projects across all media, including Saturday Night Seder, with Jason Alexander, Billy Porter, Henry Winkler, Pamela Adlon, Cynthia Erivo and more. That virtual Passover production was put on as a means of bolstering the CDC Foundation’s Coronavirus Emergency Response Fund in the early days of the pandemic, and would ultimately raise more than $3.5M.
Reboot Studios’ advisory board, comprised of distinguished industry leaders and creators who will be actively shepherding and guiding projects, includes Showtime’s EVP of Scripted Programming, Amy Israel; Oscar, Grammy, Tony, and Golden Globe Award-winning songwriter Benj Pasek (Dear Evan Hansen); Searchlight Pictures President David Greenbaum; Amblin Partners’ President of Production Jeb Brody; Tony Award-winning producer and Ars Nova co-founder Jenny Steingart; Media Res Studio’s CEO & Founder Michael Ellenberg; Amazon’s Global Head of Editorial Raymond Roker; Smokehouse Pictures President Rebecca Arzoian; and Linden Productions CEO Riva Marker.
Notable projects in the works at Reboot Studios include the film Boom from #1 New York Times bestseller Adam Mansbach (Go the Fuck to Sleep); such scripted series as Tribe and Miss Flamingo (w/t); an untitled Lacey Schwartz Delgado documentary; and the podcast The Amtlai Tapes from Transparent creator Joey Soloway.
“Art influences our world, enriches our lives and brings us together. It has the power to educate, inspire, create movements and change the way we think,” said Reboot CEO, David Katznelson. “Reboot Studios wants to tell stories about the shared human experience in order to amplify and celebrate our universal potential.”
“The Jewish tradition is, at its heart, a storytelling tradition,” added David Kohan, a Reboot Studios investor best known as the co-creator of Will & Grace. “What Reboot Studios aims to do is continue this tradition of storytelling, but instead of stories, they call it content, and instead of stone tablets or parchment, they use every type of media platform that exists in 2022.”
Reboot Studios’ feature project Boom is Mansbach’s adaptation of his memoir in verse, I Had A Brother Once, which tells the story of a rapper’s evolving relationship to his Judaism on the first anniversary of his brother’s suicide. Emmy winner Noam Dromi (Dolphin Tale) and screenwriter Lia Langworthy’s Tribe is inspired by true events about an HBCU in Jim Crow-era Baltimore that sponsors a Jewish professor on the verge of being deported back to Nazi Germany and the relationship he forges with the college’s female African American President as they transform the school and its students. Hailing from Emmy nom Melissa Eccles, Miss Flamingo (w/t) explores the beginnings of Las Vegas, the Jewish mafia families building an oasis in the desert and the juxtaposition of Jewish life and organized crime under the same roof. All through the lens of her then sixteen year-old grandmother. The untitled doc from Delgado (Little White Lie) takes a comprehensive look at the history of the Jewish and Black communities and how anti-semitism and racism have intersected in America and beyond. Then, there’s Soloway’s The Amtlai Tapes, which explores the mysterious story of Amtlai—mother to Jews, Christians and Muslims, who was written out of history.
Other projects in development include the series Jews Without Money from Davy Rothbart, Fania in the Forest from Lisa Kenner Grissom, and Shanda from Jillian Lauren; the books Sammy Cohen’s Big Day, Zamosc: A love story of memory and migration and Heimish: Jewish Wisdom for Happy, Hearty, and Resilient Living from Benji Kahn, Daniela Gerson and Lauren Hoffman, respectively; the podcasts Untitled B-Mitzvah Project and Kitchen Radio from the respective duos of Adam Kantor & Charly Jaffe, and Regine Basha & Nathalie Basha; William DeMeritt’s one-man play, Origin Story; the short films The Anne Frank Gift Shop and Uncut Gems from Mickey Rapkin and Jessie Kanhweiler, respectively; and Andrew Jacobs’ multimedia show The Borscht Belt Pop Up Museum & Arts Festival.
Advisory Board member Marker says that each of the above projects came to Reboot via its extended network of creatives and has already received funding, as part of the company’s first round. “Most of these artists, most of these projects that have been chosen, most of them are either writers or creators, so the lift that they need is not to get going,” says the Linden Productions CEO. “The lift they need is in the seed funding, and then from there, once they’ve created it or written it, it’s getting it into the world.”
Marker notes that in addition to helping to arrange for distribution, advisors will be assigned to a project and its creators for “mentorship and consulting” on an as-needed basis. “On a submission basis, we’re looking for anyone who is interested in creating, that has sort of tenets of what Reboot is about,” she adds. “Anyone is open to submit their projects. If you are Jewish or you identify as Jewish, or you have a Jewish story to tell, or thoughts around tradition, community, your religious experience in the world, that’s a project that we want to see and potentially be able to support.”
Marker was approached by Reboot to become a member of the non-profit and of Reboot Studios’ Advisory Board just as she was helping to build the production company Nine Stories with Jake Gyllenhaal, responding initially to “the core ethos of Reboot as a community, and as a community of thinkers, and a really non-judgmental space to share ideas.” She adds that Reboot Studios’ drive “to support artists in creating groundbreaking high-quality Jewishly-focused content that provides light and hope for a global audience” could not be more needed at present, with “the rise of Antisemitism” around the world.
“I think that any platform that is raising funding and supporting artists could not be more necessary right now, whether that’s Sundance, whether that’s the Public Theater, whether that’s Array and what Ava DuVernay is doing, whether that’s Franklin Leonard at The Black List,” Marker says in closing. “Reboot is establishing its own fund to grant artists the possibility of seed money towards the kind of material that’s not easy to give money to because it’s not necessarily a big blockbuster. As things within the world continue to evolve in ways that I think challenge what we believe and how we see the world, it becomes increasingly more important to support artists who have different points of view and different life experiences.”
Since its founding in 2001, the arts and culture non-profit Reboot has looked to catalyze its network of preeminent creators, artists, entrepreneurs and activists to produce experiences and products that evolve the Jewish conversation and transform society. It now boasts a creative network of more than 600 notables, which includes film and TV creatives (Transparent, Lost, The Office, Orange is the New Black), Broadway stars (Dear Evan Hansen, Rent, Fiddler on the Roof), San Francisco tech pioneers (Google, Facebook, MasterClass) and New York journalists (New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Buzzfeed); plus influential academics, non-profit executives, community organizers, renowned chefs and digital media innovators. Reboot projects have engaged more than 5.5 million participants in the past five years. More information on Reboot Studios and the slate of projects in development at the company can be found here.
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