Endeavor Group Holdings has taken a minority stake in Velvet Hammer Media, a non-scripted production company co-founded by Jennifer O’Connell and Rebecca Quinn in February.
With a focus on both premium and global formats, VHM has secured multiple series greenlights with a range of streamers and networks, including “The Big Bakeover” for The CW, Roku’s “Empty Nest Refresh” and others not yet announced. O’Connell and Quinn serve as executive producers on all projects, with VHM also providing production services.
VHM also has development deals and projects in the works at Netflix and NBCUniversal, among other platforms. Development executive and producer Nick Alarcon joined VHM as vice president. Additionally, VHM has launched an “Inside Access Program,” which aims to hire and develop underrepresented talent behind the camera.
“Over the course of their careers, Jen and Rebecca have developed and produced some of television’s most provocative shows, entertained broad audiences, fueled the zeitgeist, and reflected our culture in dynamic and surprising ways,” Rebecca Sanhueza, Endeavor’s executive vice president of content strategy and development and head of nonscripted content, said in a statement. “The moment we learned they had branched out on their own, we wanted to be in business with them. We believe in their bold, creative point of view and independent thinking, and their dedication to inclusivity and accessibility. We’re thrilled to partner on the incredible storytelling opportunities ahead.”
Financial details of Endeavor’s investment were not disclosed.
Prior to co-founding VHM, O’Connell served as executive vice president of non-fiction and live-action family originals at HBO Max, where she was responsible for the platform’s unscripted and alternative programming, and feature documentaries.
O’Connell launched content including “Selena + Chef;” “Fboy Island;” “Legendary;” “Love, Lizzo;” “Low Country: The Murdaugh Dynasty;” “Class Action Park,” “What Happened, Brittany Murphy?;” and “LFG;” as well as the “Friends” and “Fresh Prince” reunion specials. She also developed and oversaw live-action scripted content including “Gordita Chronicles” from Zoe Saldana and Eva Longoria.
Before that, she served as executive vice president and head of worldwide alternative programming at Lionsgate. She also held positions as a buyer at NBCUniversal, Head of Television at Core Media Group and an EVP and Executive Producer at Shed Media U.S., and as a creative executive at NBC, Disney Channel and the Family Channel.
Meanwhile, Quinn previously served as senior vice president of non-fiction original programming at HBO Max, where she was responsible for a broad slate of reality programming geared toward female-skewing, Gen Z and millennial audiences. Her projects included “Legendary,” “Fboy Island” and streetwear design competition show “The Hype.”
She also served as president of Pulse Creative, where she created and executive-produced several pilots and series under a deal at Lionsgate, including Kicking and Screaming for FOX, Candy Crush for CBS, and Kevin Hart: What the Fit for YouTube. Before Lionsgate, Quinn served as supervising producer on hit series Wipeout, Deal or No Deal, Fear Factor and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. She began her career in non-fiction casting and has overseen casting departments for tentpole series at every broadcast network.
“For the last several months, we’ve had the privilege of connecting with Rebecca Sanhueza and the team at Endeavor, who have shown a true understanding of what we aim to achieve and an unwavering commitment to our vision,” the pair said in a statement. “As a result, during this process our confidence in building a successful relationship with Endeavor has surged, driving us to seize every opportunity. We are deeply appreciative for the chance to build VHM into a powerhouse production company and, via our Inside Access program, a force for progress in unscripted.”
Greg Akselrud and Roger Lee of Stubbs, Alderton & Markiles, and Todd Weinstein and Tara Senior of Weinstein Senior advised VHM on the transaction.