The irony of the modern entertainment world is that while more and more product is being created to appeal to us, the nerds, very few of the people in charge of that product are actually into it. That results in plenty of nerd properties hitting the screen… but terribly mutilated.
Enter Jeff Katz. Hollywood’s professional insider nerd, Katz has left the studio system (he worked at New Line and Fox, fighting the good fight on many nerd properties) to start his own production company, American Original. Katz calls his company a ‘Nerd Machine’ which is going to create and publish original comic books with an eye towards making them feature films.
Here’s the press release we got:
“The genre audience has been derisively labeled with a variety of names – ‘fanboys,’ ‘geeks,’ and the like. The word that I would use is ‘winners,’ said Katz. “While the bad news is that we are only a niche, the good news is that the future of entertainment is a future built on niches. This audience is expanding and is uniquely positioned to take advantage of the new entertainment model. We are, by our very nature, the early adopters that generate the most sought after quality in Hollywood today – pre-awareness. ”
One of the first two divisions to be launched, American Original Press, will join forces with Top Cow Productions, the comic book publisher behind last summer’s hit WANTED and the highly successful video game THE DARKNESS, to seed IP for distribution across all entertainment platforms.
Via a strategic partnership with Top Cow, American Original Press will publish up to 10 titles per year with a goal of building a print library to develop those properties across film, television, Internet and gaming platforms. Katz will own and produce all titles under the American Original label, with Top Cow’s Matt Hawkins and Marc Silvestri exec producing select titles. Additionally, transporting the old model of the comic publishing business into the 21st century, American Original Press is the first publishing house of its kind to offer creative talent a percentage of the gross revenues over the life of the IP.
“When Jeff first quit his cushy job at Fox in this economic climate I thought he was crazy,” said Top Cow President Matt Hawkins. “Then he told me his plan and I knew immediately that Marc Silvestri and I wanted in. Jeff is one of those kinetically charismatic and driven guys that you want to be in business with. We believe in his vision of the future and look forward to working together to push the new model forward.”
The second division, American Original Entertainment, will focus on developing original and adapted film and television properties and presenting them to the marketplace. Ben Austin, a veteran of Fine Line, New Line and Fox, has come aboard as Director of Development at American Original Entertainment, the production arm of the American Original label.
American Original has also assembled an Advisory Board, which includes comic genre veterans Richard Donner and Ralph Winter, and former New Line distribution chief David Tuckerman.
Over the next few weeks, American Original will be announcing additional executive hires as well as creative partners across a wide range of media, culminating in the official American Original launch panel at this year’s Comic-Con International in San Diego.
Best of luck, Jeff. Win one for the geeks!