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Discovery extends Zaslav contract

Discovery boss David Zaslav

US factual giant Discovery has extended president and CEO David Zaslav’s contract and announced a raft of new commissions.

Previously due to conclude in 2023, Zaslav’s contract now runs to the end of 2027. The news follows the shock merger between Discovery and AT&T’s WarnerMedia earlier this week, with Zaslav chosen to lead the newly formed company.

Zaslav has led Discovery through several big IP moves in recent years, including a US$14.6bn buyout of US cablenet operator Scripps Networks Interactive and its extensive back catalogue of home and lifestyle content in 2018; a US$1.4bn multi-year rights deal for coverage of the Olympics in Europe; and a buyout of European sportscaster Eurosport from France’s TF1. It has also invested heavily in live rights to golf, cycling and other sports.

In January, the company rolled out its global streaming service Discovery+, which has already attracted in excess of 15 million subscribers.

Zaslav joined Discovery as president and CEO in 2007, following a career at NBCUniversal, where he was instrumental in developing and launching CNBC and also played a role in the creation of MSNBC.

Meanwhile, Discovery has announced multiple commissions for its streaming service and linear channels over the past 24 hours.

They include Curse of the Chippendales for Discovery+, from Jonathan and Simon Chinn’s feature doc specialist Lightbox. The four-part true crime series looks at how a new kind of dance troupe took the LA nightclub scene by storm and ended up with international fame and untold wealth, while bizarre murder plots and multiple deaths became entwined in their legacy.

It is directed by Jesse Vile and produced by Suzette Styler, with the Chinns and Suzanne Lavery exec producing. Eugenie Vink is VP and exec producer for Discovery+, while Endeavor Content is distributing the series internationally.

Discovery Channel and Discovery+ have also greenlit automotive series Hustle & Roll (working title), fronted by actor Jamie Foxx. Focusing on a group of highly competitive luxury car dealers who trust no one, the series is produced by US studio Propagate and its Big Breakfast subsidiary.

Ben Silverman, Howard T Owens, Luke Kelly-Clyne and Rob Buchta exec produce for for Propagate and Big Breakfast, while Douglas Banker exec produces on behalf of Five All In The Fifth Entertainment. For Discovery, Gretchen Morning is exec producer and Olivia Ghersen is associate producer.

A pair of paranormal series have also been given the go-ahead, including a reboot of classic series Ghost Hunters, which is making a comeback on Discovery+.

Original Ghost Hunters team leader Jason Hawes will head to supposedly haunted locations with Steve Gonsalves, Dave Tango and Shari DeBenedetti for another 13×60’ season of the show. Ghost Hungers will again be produced by original prodco Pilgrim Media Group, with Craig Piligian and Eddie Rohwedder exec producing for the firm. Kristen Teraila is the producer for Discovery+.

Finally, Ghost Adventures star Zak Bagans and Hostel filmmaker Eli Roth are teaming on a new horror anthology series called The Haunted Museum, which will premiere on Discovery+ later this year.

The show will present the frightening and hellish tales behind the relics on display in Bagans’ Las Vegas museum, by way of scripted shorts produced by Roth and his team. Bagans’ extensive collectibles, numbering in the thousands, are exhibited across the 30-room, 14,000-square-foot mansion, and span from paranormal legends and true crime to Hollywood pop culture and haunted history. The series consists of a special two-hour episode and eight hour-long episodes.

The series is being produced by Canada’s Cream Productions, for whom the exec producers are Matt Booi, Kate Harrison Karman and David Brady. Roth and Bagans also exec produce, as does Discovery+’s Christine Shuler.


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