Former eOne exec Jessica Labi and Nickelodeon VP David Sztoser join company to head distribution, brand strategy, licensing and merchandising efforts.
TORONTO, CANADA – Epic Story Media Inc. (ESM) has announced the expansion of its senior team with two new hires. Jessica Labi, formerly VP of acquisitions at eOne, has come on board as head of distribution and brand strategy. Also joining the team is David Sztoser, former VP of toys at Nickelodeon, as head of licensing and merchandise. Labi and Sztoser will work across ESM’s growing slate of brands, which has 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 aired on Disney XD, Netflix. JAKKS Pacific, Inc. is the master toy partner and Epic Story Interactive, (Epic Story Media’s sister company), is responsible for the creation of mobile games and their distribution. It has garnering over 25M downloads to date.
Additionally, Epic has 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 that has aired on Cartoon Network, Disney XD and CW 4Kids in the U.S. Teletoon has aired it in Canada as well as six European countries. The series follows Tom, Kaz, Sarah and Peyton, a group of teenagers, who play the Chaotic trading card and online game portal. While playing online, Tom 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. The brand is also an Activision video game, Chaotic Shadow Warriors, based on the series, and is available on PlayStation 3, Wii, Xbox 360 and Nintendo DS. It has gained over two million users within the first year.
Faier, president and founder at Epic Story Media, commented, “We’ve started the year strong at Epic Story Media with two incredible new team members, Jessica and David, joining us as well as adding to a burgeoning slate of dynamic, creator-led brands for them to sink their teeth into. The company is founded on the belief that creators should be in the driving seat for their IP as it’s developed and expanded – an approach which is attracting talent across the board to partner with us.”
Labi brings her eighteen plus years of experience in kids and family content distribution to ESM. Starting out at kaBOOM! Entertainment, (and then Phase 4 Films) she was responsible for marketing and distributing leading brands including Franklin the Turtle, The Berenstain Bears, Cat in the Hat, Chuggington, DQ’s Jungle Book and Paw Patrol. After the acquisition of Phase 4 by Entertainment One, Labi became part of Entertainment One USA Films/Momentum Pictures as VP of acquisitions, tasked with growing the kids and family category along with Entertainment One’s global digital distribution platform. Most recently Labi was at Viva Pictures serving as SVP. She also set up Hubble Entertainment, a production, consulting and sales company focused on global distribution.
Sztoser has worked for over seventeen years in entertainment licensing and merchandising before joining ESM. He began 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 New York based licensing agency 4Kids Entertainment where he was the manager of licensing sales and marketing for brands such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Chaotic, and Yu-Gi-Oh!. Most recently, Sztoser was with Viacom, spending eight years as the VP of toys under the Nickelodeon division. He also managed the kids 6-11 team, overseeing 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.
Source: Epic Story Media