As EVP and Head of Worldwide Alternative Programming, Jennifer O’Connell oversees the development and production of Lionsgate’s unscripted slate across all platforms. Ms. O’Connell is charged with growing the Company’s alternative television business and has secured deals with acclaimed reality producers Matt Kunitz (Kevin Hart: What the Fit, Wipeout), K.P. Anderson (The Soup, The Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale), David Shumsky (Kicking & Screaming), as well as Katy Wallin (The Gong Show) and Stephanie Bloch Chambers (Chrisley Knows Best). Lionsgate also has multiyear, first-look deals with prolific producers Cassian Elwes (Mudbound) and Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, A Simple Favor) as well as with Universal Music Group to develop original projects drawn from UMG’s world-class portfolio of labels, artists and music.
In addition, Ms. O’Connell spearheads the global expansion of Lionsgate’s unscripted business. She works closely with Primal Media, the television production company in which Lionsgate UK invested in 2016, to create formats for both the UK and U.S., and recently closed a strategic deal with Eureka Productions to develop, sell and produce formats in Australia.
Lionsgate’s fast-growing portfolio of alternative programming includes Kevin Hart: What the Fit on YouTube, Music City on CMT, the recently launched Model Squad on E! and You Kiddin’ Me, executive produced by Kim Kardashian West for Facebook Watch. The slate also includes Grant, a six-part docuseries greenlit by the History Channel, based on Pulitzer Prize®-winning author Ron Chernow’s bestselling biography of Ulysses S. Grant, and produced by Academy Award® –winner Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way Productions and Radical Media in association with Lionsgate Television. Lionsgate and Appian Way are also collaborating on a film based on Chernow’s biography, a great example of the studio’s collaborative, ‘no silos’ approach to producing premium content for global audiences. In addition, Lionsgate is developing several unscripted projects in partnership with 3 Arts Entertainment, the leading management and production company that it took a majority stake in earlier this year.
Before joining Lionsgate in 2015, Ms. O’Connell served as Head of U.S. Television for CORE Media Group. Prior to that, she was EVP of Shed Media U.S. where she executive produced the Emmy Award®-nominated Who Do You Think You Are? (NBC), The Real Housewives of New York City (Bravo), Basketball Wives (VH1) and several others. Ms. O’Connell also spent seven years at NBCU, first as VP of Movies and Miniseries where she oversaw the development of projects including the Emmy Award®-winning The Matthew Shepard Story, and then as VP of Alternative Programs where she was responsible for the first four seasons of The Biggest Loser. Ms. O’Connell also worked on movies for the Disney Channel where she served as a creative executive.
Ms. O’Connell was as a mentor for The Hollywood Reporter and Big Brothers Big Sisters’ Women in Entertainment Mentorship program. She is on the Emerson College Alumni Board and has launched an advisory program that links alumni with students studying in Los Angeles.