Refinery29 Signs With WME, Adds to Video Team in Development Push (Exclusive)

The company has hired Erica Winograd from Vox and will relocate senior vp video Stone Roberts to Los Angeles as it places a new focus on originals and longform series.

Refinery29 is expanding its presence in Los Angeles as it looks to grow its video efforts into longform, traditional development opportunities. 

The digital publisher, known for its lifestyle editorial aimed at young women, has hired vp development Erica Winograd, and is relocating senior vp global video strategy Stone Roberts to Los Angeles to build out its video team in the city. And in a further push to make inroads in Hollywood, the company has signed with William Morris Endeavor, which will look for opportunities in its film, television and live event businesses.

“I see the gold mine of IP that we sit on every day, so I’m excited to really push that out into the wild,” says Chief Content Officer Amy Emmerich. 

Refinery already has a New York-based scripted team, led by Shannon Gibson. And Jon Bulette will continue to run video development out of New York. But with the hiring of Winograd, the company will expand into unscripted storytelling. Winograd, who previously led development at Vox in its initial foray into linear programming, will collaborate with the New York team, package projects to pitch to buyers and work with Refinery’s talent team to develop talent for linear projects. 

Roberts will join Winograd in L.A. to streamline operations between the two offices and support the West Coast sales team. 

Refinery is the latest example of a digital publisher seeking growth opportunities in Hollywood. Vice, BuzzFeed and Vox have all set up shop in Los Angeles, to mixed results. Vice, arguably the most successful at turning its digital programming into a TV brand, now runs a low-rated cable network in addition to its award-winning HBO programming. BuzzFeed and Vox, meanwhile, have been slower to bring full slates to linear television. 

But the company, which has an audience of 500 million across platforms, is betting on its past projects, including shortform anthology series ShatterBox Anthology, to help it make inroads. ShatterBox, which works exclusively with female storytellers, has already produced projects from Kristen Stewart (Come Swim debuted at Sundance), Gabourey Sidibe and Chloe Sevigny. 

“ShatterBox helped us get ahead in the Hollywood community,” acknlowledges Emmerich. 

Refinery, which is expected to announce a new slate of programming Wednesday at its annual NewFront event, has also aligned itself with some more traditional players. Last August it raised a $45 million round led by Turner. At the time of the deal, the companies said they would work together to create content that could eventually air on Turner’s networks. 

“Erica’s hire is the last piece of the puzzle,” notes Emmerich. “Having her on the West Coast really signals that we’re here to stay.”

Source: hollywood (technology)

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