Former ESPN Executive Connor Schell Forms Unscripted Studio With Chernin Entertainment

Partnership includes a mutual first-look deal between the two companies

Former ESPN content executive Connor Schell is partnering with Chernin Entertainment to launch an unscripted studio. The announcement was made Wednesday by Schell and Peter Chernin, chairman and CEO of Chernin Entertainment.

Schell will serve as CEO and founder of the new studio, which does not yet have a name. The studio will develop and produce unscripted content both inside and outside the sports world.

Chernin Entertainment president Jenno Topping will oversee the collaboration from Chernin’s side, which includes a mutual first-look deal whereby she and Schell will identify opportunities to develop projects based on stories in their respective scripted and unscripted genres.

Schell left ESPN last year after a 16-year tenure, where he was most recently in charge of all non-sports programming and was instrumental in the network’s documentary content. He is best known for co-creating ESPN’s “30 for 30” documentary franchise with Bill Simmons, and was an executive producer on “O.J.: Made in America” and “The Last Dance.” Schell was one of the network’s top lieutenants under Jimmy Pitaro, who serves as chairman of ESPN and other sports content at Disney alongside Burke Magnus, who headed up programming and scheduling.

“I cannot imagine a better partner than Chernin Entertainment,” Schell said. “Peter’s reputation as a creative force and innovator across the entertainment space speaks for itself, and I am thrilled to work with him and his team. We are looking forward to collaborating with incredible storytellers to tell big, impactful stories of all kinds. I can’t wait to get going.”

Chernin added, “Connor is by far one of the most prolific and talented producers of nonfiction storytelling, and brings us a track record and instinct for creating culturally resonant and commercially viable content at a time when demand is high and supply is low. The opportunities to make a difference and reach audiences with important stories are endless.”

Chernin Entertainment is the sole investor in the new venture. Schell, Chernin and Chernin Entertainment co-founder and partner Jesse Jacobs will serve on its board of directors.