Toronto-based prodco Shaftesbury is expanding into the U.S.
Shaftesbury U.S. will be headed up by two former execs from global children’s prodco Cookie Jar Entertainment: Tom Mazza (pictured), most recently EVP and head of worldwide television with Cookie Jar; and Maggie Murphy, who was most recently its SVP of development.
Prior to his time at Cookie Jar, Mazza co-founded the branded entertainment company Madison Road Entertainment (MRE), where he exec produced the NBC series Treasure Hunters and Greensburg with Leonardo DiCaprio for Discovery.
Before co-founding MRE, he served as president of Columbia TriStar Network Television (now Sony Pictures Television), where he directed all operations for the network television division.
Prior to that post, he was a 12-year veteran of Paramount Networks Television, where he served as EVP of creative affairs and was responsible for primetime television development as well as Paramount’s roster of writers and on-air talent.
Murphy, prior to Cookie Jar, served as president for Kiefer Sutherland’s Eastside Entertainment, and oversaw comedy and drama development. Before that, she held the post of SVP of drama development for UPN, and also had a six-year tenure with Regency TV, as well as a stint with David E. Kelley Productions as director of creative affairs.
Mazza and Murphy will be based out of the new LA office effective September 1.
“Establishing a local presence in the U.S. is the next important step in the growth of our company,” said Shaftesbury chairman and CEO Christina Jennings. “Tom and Maggie are exceptional executives who have extensive roots in the U.S. creative community and strong relationships with American broadcasters that will allow us to expand our opportunities in the market.”
Mazza added: “There is great opportunity for joint development in production between Canada and the United States, and we are thrilled to be joining such a prolific and dynamic Canadian production company, building on their incredibly successful business.”
The news comes as Shaftesbury also announced the appointment of Jay Switzer, former president and CEO of Canadian broadcaster CHUM Limited, to its board of directors, effective immediately.
Switzer served as president and CEO of the Canadian broadcast company prior to its sale in 2007, and was a key player in the development and launch of CHUM’s specialty channels, going back to MuchMusic, which launched in the early 1980s.
He is also the co-founder and chair of Hollywood Suite Inc., which recently unveiled plans to launch a multi-platform, four-channel HD movie specialty movie package in Canada this November.
“Jay has been one of the Canadian broadcast industry’s most successful leaders for the past 25 years, and has been integral to the creation of some of this country’s most dynamic programming and media brands,” said Jennings of the appointment. “His wealth of experience will be invaluable to Shaftesbury as we continue to expand and diversify our business and develop additional opportunities for growth.”
The company, known for its drama and children’s offerings, is behind such recent productions as Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures, The Listener and Murdoch Mysteries. The prodco created a factual division last fall, headed by Rachel Low, and wrapped production on its first factual series, From Spain with Love: With Annie Sibonney, this past March.