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Hollywood A-Listers Ron Howard and Brian Grazer Return to Web to Chase Young and Tech-Savvy with New Digital Studio

Thompson on Hollywood By Anne Thompson and Ryan Lattanzio | Thompson on Hollywood April 3, 2014 at 12:27PM

Maryland-based nonfiction media company Discovery Communications is partnering with longtime collaborators and Imagine Entertainment spearheads Ron Howard and Brian Grazer to launch a new digital studio called New Form. The studio will focus on content outside the traditional media models of film and television.
Ron Howard
Ron Howard

Longtime Imagine Entertainment spearheads Ron Howard and Brian Grazer are partnering with Maryland-based nonfiction media company Discovery Communications to launch a new digital studio called New Form. Howard and Grazer have long been engaged with new media and tech--they founded website before the world was ready for it. The studio will focus on content outside the traditional media models of film and television, Variety reports in an interview with producer Grazer, writer/director/producer Howard and Discovery CEO David Zaslav. This is yet another example of Hollywood A-listers facing dwindling returns in their old movie space--and these guys are at the top of the Hollywood pyramid. They made "Rush" as an indie-funded European film for Working Title. 

Zaslav told Variety that Howard, who cut his teeth in television, and Grazer, who produced Howard's Oscar winner "A Beautiful Mind," are "two of the best scripted storytellers of our generation." Discovery turned to the Imagine duo for innovative ideas for original programming aimed at tech-savvy, younger viewers who've grown up amid a rapidly changing content paradigm.

Thus, New Form will hone both scripted and unscripted projects in a variety of formats, and will license to digital distributors. And Discovery, Grazer and Howard aren't interested in adhering to what is standard. Glazer said, "I love making movies and TV but a byproduct of that is it provides you access to really creative and interesting people whose stories don’t always translate to a 30-minute TV show or a two-hour movie."

At the outset, New Form will produce short-form web videos that may hit old-guard portals like Yahoo and AOL, as well as more cutting-edge platforms. The venture is backed by financing from Discovery, Imagine, former William Morris chief Jim Wiatt, CAA attorney Craig Jacobson, former Tribune Broadcast president Ed Wilson and Imagine cochair Michael Roseneberg.

This article is related to: News, Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, Web/Tech, Tech News, Tech

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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.