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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

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by Anne Thompson and Ryan Lattanzio
April 3, 2014 12:27 PM
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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 Pop.com 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.

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