Epic Story Media (ESM) grows its senior team with two new hires. Former eOne Acquisitions Vice-President Jessica Labi joins as head of distribution and brand strategy. The former Nickelodeon Vice-President of Toys David Sztoser comes abroad as head of licensing and merchandise.
Jessica Labi joins ESM with more than 18 years’ experience in kids and family content distribution. She began her career at kaBOOM! Entertainment, and then Phase 4 Films. There, Labi was responsible for marketing and distributing leading brands including Franklin the Turtle, The Bernstein Bears, Cat in the Hat, Chuggington, DQ’s Jungle Book and PAW Patrol. After the acquisition of Phase 4 by Entertainment One (eOne), Labi became part of eOne USA Films/Momentum Pictures as vice-president of acquisitions. In this role, she was tasked with growing the kids and family category along with eOne’s global digital distribution platform. Most recently, Labi was at Viva Pictures serving as senior vice-president. She also set up Hubble Entertainment, a production, consulting and sales company focused on global distribution.
David Sztoser has more than 17 years of experience in entertainment licensing and merchandising. Sztoser started his career with New Line Cinema as an assistant, then product coordinator on brands such as The Lord of the Rings, Austin Powers, and A Nightmare on Elm Street. Following New Line, Sztoser went on to work with 4Kids Entertainment. There, he was the manager of licensing sales and marketing for brands such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Chaotic, and Yu-Gi-Oh! Most recently with Viacom for eight years as the vice-president of toys under the Nickelodeon division, Sztoser managed the kids ages 6–11 team. He oversaw the hard goods categories of toys, video games, sporting goods, consumer electronics, and high-end collectibles for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, SpongeBob SquarePants, and PAW Patrol.
Labi and Sztoser will work across ESM’s growing slate of creator-led brands, which recently expanded to represent global licensing rights to Slugterra, as well as licensing and television rights to Chaotic.
Slugterra was originally produced by Ken Faier at Nerd Corps Entertainment, which was acquired by DHX Media in 2014. The series follows the heroic journey of teen Eli Shane and his best friends, the Shane Gang, as they fight for justice in the mysterious, high-tech underground world of Slugterra. Slugterra airs on Disney XD and Netflix. Jakks Pacific, is the master toy partner and Epic Story Interactive creates and distributes mobile games, garnering more than 25M downloads to date.
Additionally, Epic recently signed a deal with License Development Group, LLC to obtain the global licensing and television rights to Chaotic, a sci-fi/action television series produced by Chaotic USA and 4Kids Entertainment. The series airs on Cartoon Network, Disney XD and CW 4Kids in the U.S. and Teletoon in Canada as well as six European countries. It follows Tom, Kaz, Sarah and Peyton, a group of teenagers, who play the Chaotic trading card and online game portal. While playing online, he receives a special password and enters another world called Chaotic where the card game comes to life.
Epic will handle the Chaotic television sales and global licensing for the brand, which previously sold record numbers of trading cards in North America, South America, and Europe and had an Activision video game, Chaotic Shadow Warriors, based on the series available on PlayStation 3, Wii, Xbox 360 and Nintendo DS which gained more than two million users within the first year.