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deFaria Named DreamWorks Animation CEO

Universal Filmed Entertainment Group has appointed Chris deFaria to president of DreamWorks Animation (DWA). In this newly created position, he will oversee all aspects of the studio’s feature animation business, including slate strategy, development, and production; innovation and technology; and business affairs. deFaria will report to Universal Pictures Chairman, Donna Langley.

deFaria, a veteran of Warner Bros. Pictures, was formerly president of animation and innovative technology for the studio. In this capacity, he oversaw the creation of Warner Animation Group, and was responsible for feature film animation as well as the application of emerging technologies for Warner’s feature film slate development and key hybrid projects. He also served as an executive producer for films such as Gravity and Mad Max: Fury Road and played a key role in The Lego Movie franchise, The Great Gatsby, 300, and the Harry Potter films, among others. Prior, his titles included vice-president of physical production and executive vice-president of digital production and animation.

deFaria sits on the board of The American Academy of Dramatic Arts, and is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Writers Guild of America. He is also a founding board member of FilmAid International, a non-profit organization that screens educational and informational films in refugee camps around the world.

deFaria succeeds Jeffrey Katzenberg, who founded the company in 2004 and stepped down from the post when the company was purchased by Comcast’s NBCUniversal in a $3.87 billion deal last April. Katzenberg took on a new role as chairman of DreamWorks New Media, comprising the company’s ownership interests in Awesomeness TV and NOVA.

Sprout Appoints Three New Executives

Sprout names three industry veterans to key roles.

Chanon Cook was named vice-president, insights and strategy. In this role, she will lead and manage Sprout’s research team, generating actionable insights and recommendations from qualitative and quantitative research data. Cook will advise the programming and marketing teams in support of ratings, brand, and business growth goals, and will initiate and lead all primary research studies. Most recently, Cook was vice-president, research and analytics for IFC. Prior, she spent 10 years at Comedy Central, where she was senior vice-president, strategic insights and research. She also held research roles at Lifetime and USA Network.

Dea Connick Perez was named to the newly created role of vice-president, program strategy and acquisitions. Perez will lead programming and scheduling strategy for Sprout to maximize cross-platform viewership. Working closely with research and marketing, she will create tentpole events for linear and digital platforms, and work to capitalize on market trends and emerging platform opportunities. Perez was formerly principal of Dea Connick Perez Media Consultancy, where she oversaw acquisitions and programming strategy for the Qubo Channel and Ion Life. Prior she served as acting general manager and vice-president of programming at Discovery Kids Media. She also held roles at Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon.

Shane Lindley was named to the new role of vice-president, digital, where he will oversee Sprout’s growing digital business and will create experiences for the preschool audience across all digital platforms. He will also set strategic direction for growing Sprout’s digital business, including expanding and enhancing content plans, analytics, product, and technology. Lindley comes from Epix, where he was senior director of digital programming and product. His experience in children’s digital media includes senior positions at DreamWorks, where he led the digital publishing business, and various digital roles at Disney and BBC Children’s Interactive.

Viacom Names New Hires

Viacom has appointed David Lynn as president and CEO of Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN) and Sarah Levy as COO of its Global Entertainment Group.

Most recently, Lynn served as president of VIMN’s operations in the UK as well as Northern and Eastern Europe, encompassing more than 30 territories. As CEO of VIMN, he will have management oversight of all of Viacom’s media networks and related businesses outside the U.S. Lynn will report to Bob Bakish, whom he replaces as CEO of VIMN. Bakish was recently upped to president and CEO of Viacom last month.

Lynn will be based in London but will also work regularly out of VIMN’s offices in New York. Lynn previously served as EVP and managing director of VIMN.

As COO of its global entertainment group, Levy will oversee operations and strategy for MTV, Comedy Central, VH1, Spike, CMT, TV Land, Logo, and VIMN. She will also manage the following functions for the group: production management and operations, digital, strategy and business development, research, and content and programming enterprises. Levy will also help guide content distribution, finance, business and legal affairs, and human resource functions across these networks. She will also report directly to Bakish.

Levy most recently served as COO of the Viacom Kids & Family Group and COO of Nickelodeon prior to that role. During her 18-year tenure at Viacom, she has overseen various businesses and departments, including consumer products, TV networks, and ad sales.