COMPANY OVERVIEW

9 Story Media Group is a leading creator, producer and distributor of award-winning animated and live action content for audiences around the world.

From development right through to consumer products, 9 Story Media Group is one of the world’s leading kids and family content companies. Our award-winning animation studio, Brown Bag Films, is 100% creatively driven with a focus on producing the highest quality cross-platform animation with strong stories and engaging characters. The company’s international distribution arm, 9 Story Distribution International, represents over 2,700 half-hours of animated and live-action programming, provided to major international broadcasters and digital platforms.

Our in-house consumer products division, 9 Story Brands, builds global entertainment brands for kids, with expertise across creative, brand marketing, and licensing. With facilities in Toronto, New York, Dublin and Manchester, 9 Story Media Group employs over 600 creative and corporate staff worldwide.

Executive Team

Co-Founding Partner, President and CEO

Vince Commisso

Vince Commisso is President & CEO of 9 Story Media Group, one of the industry’s leading creators, producers and distributors of top quality content for young audiences around the world. With facilities in Toronto, New York, Dublin and Manchester, the 9 Story family of companies has produced over 2,800 episodes of best-in-class kids and family programming.

Vince began his career in 1992 at Nelvana, where he rose through the ranks to become Supervising Producer, garnering one Emmy® and two Gemini® nominations. In 2002, he co-founded 9 Story Entertainment, an animation company that would utilize leading edge technologies to develop and produce compelling animated children’s content with international appeal. Since earning an Emmy® Award on the company’s very first show, Peep and the Big Wide World, the 9 Story family of companies has gone on to earn countless other awards, including fourteen Emmy® Awards and two Oscar nominations.

Vince serves as Chair of the Audit Committee and Co-Chair of the Kids & Family Committee for The Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA) and as Chair of the trade-based advocacy association, Canadian Association of Content Exporters (CACE). He holds an MBA from the Schulich School of Business and was awarded the prestigious EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award for the Entertainment and Media category in Ontario (2015).

Chief Financial Officer

Blake Tohana

Blake Tohana is an accomplished finance executive with 18 years of senior management experience in the media and entertainment industry. He is responsible for the overall financial reporting, administration, planning and analysis activities, corporate development, and risk management operations of the company.

Prior to joining 9 Story, he was CFO of Tricon Films & Television, a leading independent producer and distributor of factual and lifestyle, reality, and children’s programming. From 2003 to 2010, Blake served as Executive Vice-President and CFO of Magna Entertainment Corp., which was North America’s largest horse racing company with media operations that included a U.S. television network and Internet wagering business. MEC was publicly traded on the TSX and NASDAQ with 5,000 employees and $1.1 billion in total assets.

Blake’s other senior management experience in the media and entertainment industry includes serving as CFO of marblemedia Inc. and Fireworks Entertainment Inc., which he helped take public before it was acquired by CanWest Global Communications Corp. Blake got his start in the industry as Corporate Controller of Alliance Communications Corp., which was Canada’s largest filmed entertainment company at that time.

Blake currently serves on the Board of Directors of Woodbine Entertainment Group and Ontario Media Development Corporation. He is a CPA, CA and has an MBA from McMaster University and a B.Sc. from The University of Western Ontario.

Chief Strategy Officer

Natalie Osborne

As Chief Strategy Officer of 9 Story Media Group, Natalie Osborne oversees strategic partnerships, worldwide sales, acquisitions, consumer products and marketing. Natalie has been a significant driver of the company’s dramatic growth over the last decade, helping transform 9 Story into one of the world’s leading independent producers and distributors of children’s content. Upon joining the company in 2006, Natalie founded the global distribution division, building it into a multi-million dollar, internationally recognized enterprise. Her executive producer credits include the Canada/U.K. coproduction Wibbly Pig, the live action film Harriet Spy: Blog Wars for Disney, and most recently, the Brown Bag Films produced holiday special, Angela’s Christmas.

Prior to joining 9 Story, Natalie served as Vice President of Acquisitions for Universal Pictures based in London where she initiated the acquisition and production of new IP and oversaw the brand management for titles such as Hi-5 and the Barbie DVD franchise. Natalie previously held the position of Vice President of Worldwide Children’s Programming for NBC Universal, where she managed the worldwide sales and marketing rollout of the studio’s children’s programs. Prior to her time in London, Natalie was based in New York as Director of International Sales for Fox Lorber.

Chief Operating Officer

Cathal Gaffney

Cathal Gaffney co-founded the award-winning animation studio Brown Bag Films in 1994, which has grown into one of the world’s most original, successful and creative led studios. As Chief Operating Officer of 9 Story Media Group, Cathal oversees production, technology and HR. He also remains at the helm of Brown Bag Films, which operates studios in Toronto, Dublin and Manchester.

A BAFTA member, Cathal is an Oscar® nominated director, an honour he received for the animated short film, Give Up Yer Aul Sins. He was nominated for the prestigious Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2009, in recognition of his achievements at Brown Bag Films.

Cathal’s executive producer credits include: Olivia, Wobblyland, I’m an Animal, Noddy in Toyland, The Octonauts, Doc McStuffins and Henry Hugglemonster.

Chief Creative Officer

Angela C. Santomero

Angela C. Santomero, Creator & Executive Producer of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Blue’s Clues, Wishenpoof, Creative Galaxy & Super Why has been changing the way children watch TV for more than twenty years. She is the Creator, Executive Producer and Writer for award winning kids and family content for PBS, Nickelodeon, Amazon Studios, etc.

With a Masters in Child Developmental Psychology from Columbia University (TC), Angela’s vision for integrating educational curriculum into entertaining content for kids led her to co-create, executive produce and head write Nick Jr.’s landmark series, Blue’s Clues. Malcolm Gladwell referred to Blue’s Clues as “One of the stickiest TV shows EVER made”, in The Tipping Point.

Angela is the recipient of the prestigious Peabody Award for Outstanding Childrenʹs Programming as well as several gold and silver Parents’ Choice Awards. Her book PRESCHOOL CLUES: Raising Smart, Inspired, and Engaged Kids in a Screen-Filled World (Touchstone) was released April 2018.

Vice President, Business Affairs

Jill Fraser

Jill Fraser is a seasoned entertainment lawyer who brings over 20 years of legal and business affairs experience in all aspects of live action and animated film and television development, production, co-production, distribution, and merchandise licensing. Prior positions include a period as legal counsel for the Motion Picture Group of Alliance Atlantis Communications, and more than 11 years as Vice President, Business Affairs for Nelvana Limited as well as positions at Duncan Morin LLP. Fraser holds a B.A. from the University of Toronto and an LL.B. from the University of Ottawa.

Creative Director

Darragh O’Connell

Darragh O’Connell co-founded Brown Bag Films with Cathal Gaffney in 1994 in Dublin, Ireland. Together they grew the company from a handful of employees to an organisation of more than 300 artists, technicians and support staff producing family content for a global audience.  In August 2015, Brown Bag Films was acquired by the 9 Story Media group in Canada. Darragh is currently Creative Director across the 9 Story Media Group and is responsible for the studio’s creative content across Dublin, Manchester & Toronto.

Darragh produced the short film Give Up Yer Aul Sins, which was nominated for an Oscar® at the 74th Academy Awards® in 2002. He subsequently directed the TV series which went on to become one of the best-selling Irish DVD releases of all time. Darragh’s director screen credits also include the TV series, Olivia and Octonauts and has executive produced Peter Rabbit, Doc McStuffins, Stinky & Dirty, winning multiple Emmy & Peabody awards along the way.

In 2010, Darragh was nominated for a second Academy Award® as producer of the short film Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty and was invited to join the Academy for Motion Pictures, Arts & Sciences.

Darragh sits on the board of the Screen Directors Guild of Ireland.

Vice President, Marketing & Communications

Jennifer Ansley

A seasoned marketing and communications executive, Jennifer Ansley has over twenty years of experience within the entertainment industry, with a successful track record in brand positioning, customer marketing, corporate communications and digital distribution. As Vice President, Marketing & Communications, Jennifer is responsible for the marketing and promotion of 9 Story’s key properties, liaising with broadcasters, digital providers and licensing partners to maximize brand exposure and revenue. Jennifer also heads up all corporate communications efforts, including public relations, international market initiatives and corporate events.

Prior to joining 9 Story, Jennifer served as Vice President of Marketing at Phase 4 Films (acquired by eOne) where she was responsible for all theatrical, DVD, VOD and digital releases for both the live action and children’s animated divisions. She led the trade and consumer marketing efforts for over 350 television and film releases annually, including key properties such as The Tudors, The Borgias, Chuggington, Max & Ruby and Franklin. While at Phase 4 she was a chief contributor to the company’s dramatic growth in digital distribution through the development of strategic pitches and marketing programs for Netflix, iTunes, Comcast, Xbox and more. Prior to that, Jennifer was Director of Marketing at Somerset Entertainment where she developed commercially successful music programs sold through interactive kiosks for leading retailers around the globe. During her 10 year tenure at Somerset, Jennifer was instrumental in licensing well known branded properties such as Hallmark and Fairmont Hotels. She was also responsible for overseeing all corporate communications initiatives including leading investor relations upon the company’s going public.

Jennifer completed her B.A. at the University of Western Ontario and holds a Masters degree from McMaster University.

Vice President, Business Development

Claudia Scott Hansen

As Vice President, Business Development, Claudia Balzer Scott-Hansen is responsible for overseeing international sales and growing 9 Story’s global footprint. An accomplished media professional with 20 years of experience in both transmedia platform distribution and global franchise development, Claudia has a proven track record with key markets as varied as USA, Brazil, Mexico, Germany and Italy. Prior to joining 9 Story, Claudia was SVP/Group Director Broadcast, Americas and EMEA at HIT Entertainment (owned by Mattel since 2012), one of the world’s leading children’s entertainment producers and rights-owners. While at HIT, Claudia was responsible for all broadcast strategies and the distribution of HIT Entertainment and Mattel Inc. properties. Her recent achievements include the multi-platform placement, promotion and launch of iconic properties such as Thomas & Friends™, Angelina Ballerina™, Bob the Builder™, Barney™, Barbie™ and Monster High™ throughout North and South America. In addition to content placement, Claudia’s expertise is integrating broadcast launches with consumer and retail marketing and promotions. Working with PBS, she is also proficient with syndication, curriculum-led programming and the processes associated with federal and private funding opportunities.

Prior to joining HIT in 2006, Claudia was the Head of Formats and Head of Southern European Distribution at BBC Worldwide, based in London. While at BBC Worldwide she also held the position of Head of European Licensing, and was instrumental in developing the brand and licensing strategy for the highly successful children’s properties Teletubbies into key territories and platforms in the EMEA region including Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the Middle East and South Africa.  She also worked for two years under the BBC’s famous Natural History Unit, responsible for European Co-Productions.

Claudia received a joint BA in Political Science and Renaissance Literature from Boston College and was a recipient of the Fulbright Scholarship.  She also completed a post-graduate program in International Studies through Drew University, followed by a one year post at the United Nations.

Vice President, Business Development & Acquisitions

Alix Wiseman

An international media professional with over 20 years experience, as Vice President, Acquisitions & Business Affairs, Alix Wiseman is responsible for leading distribution and acquisitions efforts in EMEA with a focus on bringing in new content from Europe as well as greenlighting projects with European broadcasters.  Alix joined 9 Story from Aardman Animations, where she set up the studio’s dedicated distribution division in 2006. While at Aardman, she worked with her team to secure TV and home entertainment partnerships for Shaun the Sheep in 170 countries and drive new brand extensions for the studio’s Oscar® winning stop-frame classics such as Wallace & Gromit and Creature Comforts. In addition to managing the sales team, Alix led the acquisitions efforts at Aardman, sourcing 3rd party content from independent studios including Digby Dragon; Bing, and Wussywat the Clumsy Cat.

Alix started her career at Channel 4 Television selling over 3000 hours of programming across factual, animation, comedy, drama and feature films.  Following her passion for animation, she moved into children’s content, joining newly formed Entertainment Rights (since acquired by Classic Media and then DreamWorks) where she drove the international roll-out of shows such as Postman Pat, Little Red Tractor, the Barbie TV movies and Transformers across the globe.  Alix is both a UK & US national and was raised in Latin America.  She is fluent in French, Spanish, Portuguese and speaks basic Italian.

Life at 9 Story

The Board

Executive Chairman

Neil Court

Neil Court is a seasoned international media entrepreneur who started his career in entertainment in 1981. He has lived in the UK since 1991 and carries out his Executive Chairman duties from there. Mr Court is also Chairman and co-founder of Peacock Alley Entertainment, the Toronto-based producer of the Netflix/Showcase worldwide sci fi hit, TRAVELERS.

In 1997, Mr Court co-founded Toronto’s Decode Entertainment, which became one of the largest international suppliers of children’s TV series. When Decode became DHX Media in 2006 and went public, he became president of the international distribution subsidiary and was appointed to DHX’s board of directors. He resigned from DHX in 2009 but remained as a non-executive board member until 2011.

Prior to Decode, Mr. Court had his own UK-based international media consultancy business where his main clients included Film Roman (THE SIMPSONS), The Jim Henson Company as well as major European and American media companies such as MCA, BMG and PolyGram. Mr. Court started working in children’s media in 1987, when he was a founder of the international distribution and coproduction subsidiary of Nelvana (now part of Corus Entertainment). He left his position of Managing Director in 1993, having set up the Paris and London operations for the company.

Mr Court holds a MBA from the Schulich School of Business as well as undergraduate degrees in Journalism and Political Science from Ottawa’s Carleton University.

Michel Bendayan

Owner of Go Play Global, an international sales and strategic consulting agency, Michel Bendayan represents and directs a myriad of toy companies wanting to establish and grow their footprints worldwide.  Mr. Bendayan is a respected veteran in toys, with over 20 years experience devoted to developing and growing international markets.  Prior to founding Go Play Global, Mr. Bendayan spent 15 years at Mega Brands, most recently as Vice President of International Sales.  Mr. Bendayan turned Mega Brands into a leading toy player in multiple international territories, including North and South America,  Australia / New Zealand, Asia Pacific and Middle East / Africa.

Mr. Bendayan holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from McGill University and is trilingual in English, French, and Spanish.

Co-Founding Partner, President and CEO

Vince Commisso

Vince Commisso is President & CEO of 9 Story Media Group, one of the industry’s leading creators, producers and distributors of top quality content for young audiences around the world. With facilities in Toronto, New York, Dublin and Manchester, the 9 Story family of companies has produced over 2,800 episodes of best-in-class kids and family programming.

Vince began his career in 1992 at Nelvana, where he rose through the ranks to become Supervising Producer, garnering one Emmy® and two Gemini® nominations. In 2002, he co-founded 9 Story Entertainment, an animation company that would utilize leading edge technologies to develop and produce compelling animated children’s content with international appeal. Since earning an Emmy® Award on the company’s very first show, Peep and the Big Wide World, the 9 Story family of companies has gone on to earn countless other awards, including fourteen Emmy® Awards and two Oscar nominations.

Vince serves as Chair of the Audit Committee and Co-Chair of the Kids & Family Committee for The Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA) and as Chair of the trade-based advocacy association, Canadian Association of Content Exporters (CACE). He holds an MBA from the Schulich School of Business and was awarded the prestigious EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award for the Entertainment and Media category in Ontario (2015).

Geraldine Laybourne

Geraldine Laybourne is a serial entrepreneur in media and technology. Currently she is the Chairman and co-Founder of Kandu, a kid’s technology company. She founded Oxygen Media in 1999 and served as Chairman and CEO of Oxygen Media until she sold it to NBC Universal in 2007.

Ms. Laybourne was a cable programming pioneer in the 80’s and 90’s: she led the team that created Nickelodeon and Nick at Nite. She also served as president of Disney/ABC Cable Networks (from 1996-1998) where she ran cable programming for the Walt Disney Company and its ABC subsidiary.

Ms. Laybourne has been singled out for her many contributions to the industry. She was ranked No. 1 among the 50 most influential women in the entertainment industry by The Hollywood Reporter in 1996 and named one of the 25 most influential people in America by Time magazine that same year.

She serves on the Board of Directors of Symantec Corporation, and on the Board of Betaworks. She previously served on the boards of Electronic Arts, J.C. Penney, Insight Communications, move.com, and Alloy Inc. She is on the Board of Trustees of Vassar College, is a corporate ambassador for Vital Voices and advises many women lead startup companies. She and her husband Kit, a teacher, producer and author, have two children and four grandchildren.

Bradley Sherman

Presently, Bradley Sherman is the Senior Managing Director of Media Lending at Bank of Montreal.  Prior, Mr. Sherman was the co-founder and CEO of Aver Media LP, a private media financier founded in 2006, which Bank of Montreal acquired in 2013. Prior to founding Aver, Mr. Sherman was a partner in both Grosvenor Park Partnership and Sentinel Hill Alliance Atlantis Ventures Corporation, Canadian industry leaders in providing structured financing to the Canadian and international filmed entertainment community.

Mr. Sherman graduated from University of Southern California with a BA and Osgoode Hall Law School with an LLB, and practiced commercial law in Toronto with Blake, Cassels and Graydon. Mr. Sherman was born in Canada and remains a Canadian citizen and resident, presently living in Toronto, Ontario.

Jordan Turkewitz

Jordan Turkewitz joined ZelnickMedia in 2002. Mr. Turkewitz is responsible for originating, structuring and monitoring investments with a focus on media, internet and media/marketing services. Mr. Turkewitz currently represents ZelnickMedia on the boards of 9 Story Media Group, Alloy, L.L.C. and is the Chairman of Cast & Crew Entertainment Services, L.L.C.

Prior to joining ZelnickMedia, Mr. Turkewitz served as Senior Director of Acquisitions and Investments at JupiterMedia Corporation, ultimately leading the corporate development team and the investments group that managed three venture capital funds focused on investments in digital publishing, software and business services company. Before joining JupiterMedia, Mr. Turkewitz was an Associate with Merrill Lynch & Co in the Media Investment Banking Group and Goldman Sachs’ Mergers and Acquisitions Group. Prior to his positions in investment banking, Mr. Turkewitz Co-Founded and served as Chief Operating Officer of the Student Advantage Program, a leading integrated media and commerce company focused on the higher education market.

Mr. Turkewitz earned a BA degree in U.S. Government from Cornell University and received a MBA from Columbia Business School.

Andrew Vogel

Andrew Vogel joined ZelnickMedia in 2003. Mr. Vogel is responsible for originating, structuring and monitoring investment across several verticals including telecommunications infrastructure, business services, entertainment content and distribution, advertising and direct marketing. Mr. Vogel currently represents ZelnickMedia on the boards of 9 Story Media Group, Cast & Crew Entertainment Services, L.L.C., Alloy, L.L.C., Airvana LP and Cannella Response Television.

Prior to joining ZelnickMedia, Mr. Vogel worked at Ripplewood Holdings, a private equity firm where he focused on investments in the media, consumer and industrial sectors. Mr. Vogel also worked at McCown De Leeuw and Co., a private equity firm where he was responsible for investments in the consumer, building  materials and health and leisure industries, including the firm’s investment in 24 Hour Fitness. Previously, Mr. Vogel was an investment banker in Lehman Brother’s Mergers & Acquisitions Group and interned as a management consultant for McKinsey and Company.

Mr. Vogel earned a BA in Mathematics and Economics from Wesleyan University. He also received an MBA from Harvard Business School where he graduated as a Baker Scholar.

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