Entertainment Evolution Symposium: The Use of Data in Digital Transformation

Keynotes from executives with NBCUniversal, Dow Jones and Ankler Media; multiple sets of breakout tracks covering everything from ethics, financials and syndication, to workflows, awards and insights, to Web3 and the metaverse; and a gathering of industry innovators and thought leaders, all discussing the use of data across the global entertainment ecosystem.

That’s what’s in store for attendees of the Sept. 21 Entertainment Evolution Symposium (EES) in Los Angeles, returning as an in-person event at The Skirball Cultural Center.

Presented by the Pepperdine Graziadio Business School Institute for Entertainment, Media and Sports (IEMS) and the Hollywood IT Society (HITS), the full-day symposium will be a closed-door event for audience member participation only.

The event is sponsored by Iron Mountain, Signiant, Whip Media, Atos, Fortinet, FPT Software, invenioLSI, Perforce, Vision Media, and EIDR.

Here’s what attendees can expect from the program:

• Following opening remarks by Guy Finley, president and CEO of MESA, Claudio Ludovisi, assistant dean, marketing and strategy for Pepperdine Graziadio Business School, and Amy Zwagerman, program manager for the Pepperdine Graziadio Business School, Institute for Entertainment, Media, and Sports (IEMS), Jenny Burke, EVP of advertising strategy for NBCUniversal, will deliver the opening keynote of the day: “Under the Feathers at Peacock,” detailing the rise of the first-of-its-kind AVOD streaming service.

After years of espousing SVOD as the only way to launch successful streaming platforms, the industry has finally come around to the power of AVOD streamers. Two years ago, NBCUniversal bucked industry norms with the launch of Peacock, in a move that many of its biggest competitors are now seeking to emulate.

Burke will detail why AVOD is having its moment in the industry sunlight, and how AVOD platforms allow for bigger and better business opportunities with marketers of every size.

• “The 360 Degree View of Data” will be the first panel of the day, with moderator Hope Allen, CEO and founder of Living Hope Productions, and panelists Jeff Clanagan, president and chief distribution officer for Hartbeat; Michael Smith, CMO of NPR; and Ken Nowling, SVP of production for Universal Television/NBCUniversal.

Production, distribution, and marketing all provide unique perspectives on data as business units and disciplines. From where to gather data, what’s the impact and how to implement within their piece of the business, the conversation about data continues to deepen. But as data proliferates across organizations, these new information partnerships become increasingly valuable to the company by their connection, in real-time, both internally, and externally, to their customer(s) via platform, user or device.

• Rob Hayes, chief business officer for Dow Jones, will deliver the morning keynote, “Transforming the Global Connected Consumer.” As the next generation of digital native is born into our connected world, national and international brands face the challenge of engaging the new, connected consumer on their terms and in a way that appeals to their lifestyle. This transformation is especially relevant for companies who’ve done business with their brand for 20, 30, even 100 years, or more, and requires a fresh perspective on collaborative tools, partnerships, and platforms.

• Beginning at 11:20 a.m., attendees will have three breakout tracks to choose from, including:


• “The Unique Challenges of Managing Cloud Costs in Media & Entertainment” with Rick Capstraw, chief growth officer, Signiant
• “Using AI to Level up Your Content and Marketing Decision-Making” with Rich Calabrese, VP of client solutions, Vault AI
• “Your Digital Business has a Physical Carbon Footprint, and it Matters More Than You May Know” with Chris Pennington, director of energy and sustainability, Iron Mountain


• “The Ethical uses of Data, AI, and Machine Learning in Media & Entertainment” with Ira Dworkin, managing director of communications, media, and entertainment, and Phong Nguyen, chief AI officer, FPT Software
• “Content Financials: Old Hollywood meets New Hollywood – Automating the workflow from Greenlight to Amortization” with James Maysonet, VP global M&E, InvenioLSI
• “Evolving New Syndication Models Driven by A.I.” with Sean Atkins, president, Jellysmack


• “Case Study: Improving Collaboration on Real-Time Projects with Perforce Helix Core” with Katie Cole, gaming evangelist and director of product marketing for Helix Core at Perforce, and Chris Swiatek, chief of product, ICVR
• “Future-Proof Your Business: the Transition from Physical to Digital Awards with Vision Media and Film Independent” with Jason Deadrich, CTO, Vision Media, and Evan Ward-Henninger, director of membership, Film Independent.
• “Must Have Data for 2023 – Get the Full 360 View of Tomorrow’s Consumer, Today” with Alex von Krogh, VP of global insights, Whip Media

• The afternoon keynote, “DEIA in Productions – Inclusion Policy and Playbook,” will be delivered by Latasha Gillespie, executive head of global diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA) for Amazon Studios, Prime Video, and IMDb, with an introduction by Eric Iverson, head of product for Amazon Studios.

There is much to be done to improve representation in Hollywood, both in front of and behind the camera. Amazon Studios has long prioritized telling innovative and inclusive stories from a diverse range of creative talent and last year it launched its Inclusion Policy and Playbook, which creates mechanisms that hold us accountable to a high bar and provides a path toward a more equitable future in film and television.

• Attendees will then have another set of three breakout tracks to choose from, including:


• “NFTs and the Metaverse: Culture, Community, Innovation and Web3” with Christiane Kinney, president, Kinney Law, P.C., and Tori Stevens, CEO, SuperNFT.
• “Digital Opportunities: How NFTs Create Opportunities for Intercollegiate Athletes and Women” with Michael Ehrlich, founder, Playbook Marketing; Alicia Jessop, associate professor, Pepperdine University; and Greig Carlson, CEO, Hall of GOATS.
• “Web3 & the Metaverse – What’s Real & What’s Not” with Lori H. Schwartz, CEO and principal, StoryTech, and co-chair, Web3 Council, NAB Show.
• “Balancing Business & Creativity Through Data: Who Exactly Is The Audience?” with John Penney, co-founder, Elemental Content LLC.


• “How Data Drives Engagement and ROI in Esports and Gaming” with Gary Kleinman, co-founder, Skinz.gg, and founder, WHAM Network; Mo Hallaba, CEO, Datawisp; Ryan Morrison, CEO, Evolved Talent, and founding partner, Morrison Rothman LLP; and Eric Yoon, founder and CEO, eSports TV.
• “eSports and the Evolving Collegiate Experience” with Kleinman, Jason Chung, head of eSports, Zuber Lawler, and Wim Stocks, SVP, partnerships and commercial, Belong Gaming & Vindex.
• “The Media Genome: What’s the Katch?” with Andrew Tight, CEO and co-founder, Katch, and Nelson Granados, professor of information systems and technology management, Pepperdine Graziadio Business School.
• “More Data = More Problems… STOP THE INSANITY!” with Richard Atkinson, president, CDSA, Clinton Badewitz, identity and access management manager, Epic Games, and Ben Strother, cybersecurity specialist, Fortinet.


• “Fan Touchpoints Part I: Shifting Perspective on Consumers to Evolve Business Models & Unlock Value” with Nairi Gardiner, former CFO, Warner Bros. Global Brands & Experiences; Liz Huszarik, former EVP and chief research officer, Warner Bros. Entertainment; and an introduction by Nina Skorus-Neely, digital advisor, M&E transformation, Microsoft.
• “Fan Touchpoints Part II: Shifting Perspective on Consumers to Evolve Business Models & Unlock Value” with Gardiner, Huszarik, and Skorus-Neely.
• “Living on the Edge: Data Requirements for (Virtual) Production” with Sean Tajkowski, technical director, MEDCA; Dane Brehm, production technologist, Cintegral.Tech; and Bradley Greenberg, senior director, Coresite.
• “Creatives and their Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes” with Eric Rigney, VP, MEDCA; Jason Bautista, solutions architect, Commscope; Dane Brehm, production technologist, Cintegral.Tech; Derek Powell, director, Altman Solon; Tajkowski; and Tom Thudiyanplackal, virtual production producer, senior M&E solutions architect, The Storyteller’s Desk.

• The closing keynote, “One More Thing…The Ankler Weighs In!” will see leaders of Ankler Media discuss the radical transformation of Hollywood before, during and after COVID-19. “The Ankler,” their flagship brand, is Hollywood’s most fearsome newsletter with the most buzzed-about coverage of M+E that speaks plainly about injustice and foolishness on all sides of the industry debate. In addition to the daily emergence of hot-button issues and next-level crisis, they’ve gained tens of thousands of subscribers with their coverage of the upheavals and dislocations of the streaming wars.

As the stakes for survival escalate, the EES closing keynote conversation gives attendees their understanding of where our industry is heading as the D2C strategy truly unfolds across the entire ecosystem of studio products (theatrical, broadcast, packaged media, electronic sell-through, etc.). Sean McNulty, creator and writer of “The Wakeup” entertainment industry newsletter, and Richard Russfield, editor-in-chief of “The Ankler,” will discuss.

To register for the Entertainment Evolution Symposium, click here.

To get involved with future MESA events contact [email protected].