EXCLUSIVE: Former MGM/UA Television President Steve Stark has assembled the senior creative team for his recently launched Toluca Pictures production company. MGM/UA’s SVP of scripted television Stacey Levin has reunited with Stark, joining Toluca Pictures as President. Additionally, Spotify’s Elena Blekhter has come on board as Vice President.
Stark, who stepped down as President of MGM/UA Television in March to return to producing, continues his relationship with the indie studio as an executive producer on several signature series he developed and launched during his nine-year run there, including Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale; FX’s Fargo; and two upcoming Netflix dramas, Vikings: Valhalla, a spinoff from MGM TV’s hit History series Vikings; and Tim Burton’s live-action Addams Family series Wednesday, which stars Catherine Zeta Jones as Morticia.
Since launching Toluca Pictures in late spring, Stark has set up premium scripted series at eight different networks and streaming platforms, including an adaptation of Stephen Markley’s novel Ohio at HBO, via MGM Television. The company also has a feature, an animated series and an international production currently in development and is in production with Tadmor Entertainment and MGM on its first documentary, Eichmann – The Devil Speaks, which exposes the missing recordings of Adolph Eichman, the architect of Hitler’s “final solution.”
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“I’m so proud, if not a little stunned, at how fast we’ve hit the ground running with a dynamic slate of projects we’re extremely passionate about,” said Stark. “It’s always been my mission to curate riveting, moving stories that can help reveal the world in interesting, unexpected ways. Stacey and Elena bring their incredibly accomplished backgrounds and eclectic taste to this same mission, as well as their fresh take on content which is ushering in a new era in our business.”
While at MGM Studios, Levin was responsible for developing, packaging and selling scripted projects. She also brought in several high profile first-look deals to the studio with such companies as Renee Zellweger’s Big Picture Co., Sam Rockwell’s Play Hooky Productions, and Christine Vachon and Pamela Koffler’s Killer Films, all of which will continue to work with Stark and Levin at Toluca Pictures.
Blekhter comes to Toluca Pictures from Spotify where she was a consultant in the scripted podcast division. Before that, she was head of TV & Film at Frolic Media , director of scripted content at Dynamic Television, and also worked at NBC, RBEL Agency and ICM. Blekhter serves as co-executive producer of Netflix’s Ginny & Georgia and is executive producer of Batman Unburied, an upcoming scripted podcast for DC and Spotify.
Stark is currently in Romania working on Wednesday, which is filming there. Other series Stark shepherded at MGM include MTV’s Teen Wolf, Audience/Epix’s Condor, Hulu’s Four Weddings and a Funeral, Epix’s Perpetual Grace LTD and CBS’ Clarice.
“I’m extremely gratified that Toluca Pictures continues a great working relationship with MGM, where we always strove to never repeat ourselves and to bring something new and surprising to every project we undertook,” he said.
Before joining MGM to help relaunch its scripted TV operation, Stark ran his own Steve Stark Productions, which had an overall TV deal with NBCUniversal. His slate of series included USA Network’s Fairly Legal and NBC’s The Event. Prior to that, Stark was president of Kelsey Grammer’s Grammnet Productions when it was based at Paramount Network Television, serving as executive producer on such series as NBC/CBS’Medium and the CW’s The Game.
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