In a move to bolster its TV and digital production operations, Primary Wave Entertainment has acquired Jeff Gaspin’s Gaspin Media and has named the former NBC Universal TV Entertainment chairman to the newly created position of President. He will also serve as a member of the company’s management board. This marks the return to the executive ranks for Gaspin, who will start effective immediately and will be based out of the company’s Los Angeles office, working with Primary Wave Entertainment’s co-CEOs David Guillod and Lawrence Mestel.
Gaspin’s hire marks the next step in the evolution of Primary Wave. Originally launched by Lawrence Mestel, it started as an independent music marketing, talent management, and music publishing company. It beefed up its talent management and film/TV development and production operations with the back-to-back acquisition of Evolution Management and merger with David Guillod’s Intellectual Artists Management.
“Jeff is a skilled, innovative leader who will make a powerful impact on our business,” said Mestel and Guillod. “We will continue to grow our executive ranks with key new hires as we pursue an ambitious expansion of our original content slate.”
As President, Gaspin will have input on all aspects of Primary Wave business operations and will lead the expansion of original content, developing and producing programming across television and digital platforms. The company’s current series portfolio includes CeeLo Green’s The Good Life (TBS), Being Mary Jane (BET) starring Gabrielle Union, the international series The 100, created by Bobby Moresco starring Michael Nyqvist, an Peter Farrelly’s upcoming Audience Network series Loudermilk.
Gaspin has more experience in unscripted series. As head of programming for VH1, he helped conceive Behind the Music. As head of reality at NBC, he bought Fear Factor, Deal or No Deal and The Apprentice (You can read Gaspin’s take on series star Donald Trump’s evolution here), and he put on the air the Bravo hit Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.
The shows he has done though his Gaspin Media, which he formed in 2012, following his exit from NBC, are also predominantly unscripted, including To Tell the Truth (ABC), First Impressions with Dana Carvey (USA), Fit to Fat to Fit (A&E), Match Made in Heaven (WEtv) and the syndicated series The Preachers (Telepictures). Gaspin will continue to serve as executive producer on his preexisting series.
While at Primary Wave Gaspin will continue to focus on unscripted, scripted production also will be a main priority, working with writers on the company’s client roster as well as outside talent.
“I like the fact that this is a multi-faceted company that works in film, television and music, so we can tap into great talent and resources, package content and try to stand out from other great producers and content providers out there.”
Gaspin also noted Primary Wave’s “access to capital that allows to deficit finance and be a studio (on TV series).” That model will be used judiciously, but will be an important tool, because “the holy grail for independent producers is to own IP, and the only way to do it is own or co-own our programming.” For instance, Primary Wave co-finances Audience Network’s Loudermilk.
Gaspin iss not setting specific volume goals but hopes to get 2-3 reality and 1-3 scripted series on the the air in the first year.
“Since content, both traditional and digital, is in such high demand all over the world, I can’t think of a more exciting way to spend the next phase of my career,” he said of his new gig.
Gaspin said that Guillod and Mestel had been asking him to join the company for about a year. He took it slowly, initially taking on joint projects to get a feel about working with the company and its team. Happy with that experience and having just become an empty nester with his wife, with the youngest of their kids heading off to college, “I ultimately felt that it was great match and the timing was right,” Gaspin said. “Primary Wave is a big enough company to give you pieces to work with and small enough to allow you to help it grow.”
In addition to his Gaspin Media, in 2014, Gaspin launched TAPP,an over-the-top subscription platform connecting niche personalities with their super fans. Gaspin serves as Chairman of TAPP. He is on the advisory boards of TowerBrook Captial and Taboola.