GRB Studios inks licensing and distribution deal with Black TV

GRB Studios has signed a multiyear licensing and distribution deal with Black TV and will be a partner in the African channel, led by actor and producer Thomas Gumede.

Black TV is an African pay-TV channel broadcast via Starsat, South Africa, a subsidiary of the Chinese satellite television provider StarTimes. The channel features original African series, movies, music, documentaries and non-scripted shows. Black TV has picked up some 200 hours of programming from the GRB catalog.

GRB’s founder and CEO, Gary R. Benz, said: “The Black TV OTT platform delivers both premium local content as well as world-class international content through a mobile app, web app and website accessible across a wide range of devices. I am thrilled to be a partner with them and share our great content with the widest audience possible.”

“I have known Gary Benz for more than 15 years. GRB Studios’ stellar reputation for producing Emmy Award-winning programming alongside their catalog of more than 3000 hours of content makes them the ideal partner for Black TV,” said Hemdee Kiwanuka, a principal in Black TV.

Gumede added: “I’m excited to be venturing into new territory, and with a partner like GRB we are confident that Black TV will be a success. Content is king and Africa is an untapped kingdom.”

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Thomas Gumede to take BLACK TV to the world with new international deal

Producer Thomas Gumede has gone global with a new deal.

Producer Thomas Gumede has gone global with a new deal. 
Image: Via Thomas Gumede’s Instagram

Actor Thomas Gumede recently signed a mega international deal with Emmy award-winning content studio GRB Studios and is on a mission to showcase Africa to the world.

A multi-year licensing and distribution deal between GRB and BLACK TV, spearheaded by Thomas was announced this week.

BLACK TV is an African pay TV channel broadcast on Satellite service Starsat and features original African series, movies, music, documentaries and non-scripted shows.

Thomas told TshisaLIVE this was a historic move and that he’s super excited about it.

“This is a deal for all of Africa, something we can all celebrate. It is a global deal. We will be able to deliver to the whole continent and beyond that.”

Despite the increased demand for new content from the deal, Thomas is determined to stay true to Africa and its roots. He is passionate about telling African stories that have not been told up until now.

“We want to create local content that can compete with international content and is as compelling. We want to set a new standard.”

Thomas said the goal now was to make sure that African producers own their work and take their place at the international table.

“Content is king and Africa is an untapped kingdom. There are so many stories to tell. We have great concepts we need to take it from concept to screen.”



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GRB Studios Promotes Scot Cru To President After Rebrand And Reorg

GRB Entertainment is now calling itself GRB Studios, a shift that suits its new push toward content and distribution, with the rebranded company promoting Scot Cru to president.

Cru joined the unscripted programming specialist in July as president of international sales and distribution after a 15-year run working for Mark Burnett’s production company.

The announcement was made by Gary R. Benz, founder and CEO of GRB, which is best known for its long-running A&E reality hit Intervention.

In related promotions, Karen Pinto is now EVP of Production and Megan Reeves is SVP of Development. Cru’s former lieutenant, Patrice Choghi, who he recently brought on as SVP of International, will continue in that role.


“I look forward to working with Scot, Karen, Megan and Patrice as we build GRB Studios to expand our reach domestically and internationally,” Benz said in a press release. “Scot is a well-known and highly respected television executive, his enthusiasm for our company and the industry is contagious,” said Benz.

GRB Studios will continue with current productions such as Intervention as well as newly commissioned series and pilots. GRB’s past credits include shows such as Untold Stories of the ER for TLC, Next Action Star for NBC, Showdown of the Unbeatables for Nat Geo, Growing Up Gotti for A&E and Princes of Malibu for Fox.

“In this ever-expanding global landscape, my focus is to continue the great work that GRB is doing while diversifying our revenue streams across more verticals, working closer with independent producers and cultivating relationships with both known and emerging content creators to monetize across multiple traditional and digital platforms,” Cru said.


October 9, 2018 1:22pm

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Realscreen: New GRB president Scot Cru talks rebrand, global expansion

Sherman Oaks-based indie prodco and distributor GRB Entertainment has rebranded and is now GRB Studios, with an expanded focus on worldwide growth and a renewed push into premiere content.

Scot Cru (pictured), who previously served as president of GRB’s international sales and distribution, has again been upped to president of the reorganized company. He will work with founder and CEO Gary R. Benz to push the company towards a greater international footprint and more partnerships and co-productions with other indies.

Cru immediately promoted Karen Pinto to EVP of production and Megan Reeves to SVP of development. Patrice Choghi, who Cru recently brought on as SVP of international, will continue in that role and run the company’s international distribution and production arm.

Cru sees his role as president as a collaborative process, working alongside Benz and a small team who have their hands in everything. “I’m the president of the company, but we’re a very small company. We wear several different hats all throughout the day. Everybody in this company does,” says Cru, in an interview with realscreen. “I could be talking about a domestic format development we’re doing, and the next meeting we could be talking about acquiring 100 hours of somebody’s great program out of the UK, so it’s all of those things, and I’m running point. I’m like the coach, and Gary’s the owner of the team, I guess.”

Cru joined GRB in July after 15 years working with Mark Burnett. He was quickly upped to the head role when a former lead executive departed the company.

“We’re going to be maintaining our strengths in the core business that we’ve been doing for years, which is great distribution of over 3,500 hours of content that we put through our distribution arm, and producing our award-winning series like [A+E Networks’] Intervention,” he says. “But also looking at different ways to create new revenue streams. At the end of the day it all comes down to great content, and we want to expand our relationship with independent producers, not only here in LA but around the world.”

That independence is one of the main messages Cru wants to drive home. While smaller companies might get lost in the shuffle at larger studios, Cru wants GRB Studios to be home to those independent producers with great ideas who are ready to move on them now.

“We can make quick, fair deals with producers, and then work aggressively with them to develop their content and get it out into the marketplace,” he says.

He’s also keen to diversify content moving forward. “We’ve been very strong in the super high-end, Emmy Award-winning cable space, but we haven’t been doing a lot of network. We haven’t done a big shiny floor show, we haven’t done big formats,” he says.

Cru remains mum about what specific projects we can expect from GRB Studios, though he hints that at least some of the new slate will be announced at the upcoming MIPCOM marketplace.

“We are aggressively expanding our reach with celebrity-driven development projects and there’ll be some announcements coming out about those,” he says.

For now, the priority will remain on expanding while continuing what the company has been known for over its 30-year run.

“We’re shifting our focus to be more inclusive and not so narrow-minded in what our output is. And that’s the biggest takeaway from our rebrand to GRB Studios.”

October 10, 2018


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GRB rebrands, promotes execs

C Scot Cru, Patrice Choghi and Karen Pinto







LA-based distributor GRB Entertainment is rebranding as GRB Studios and is promoting a number of executives as part of a reorganisation.

C Scot Cru, who only joined the firm from Mark Burnett Productions in July, has been promoted from president of international sales and distribution to overall company president.

Founder and CEO Gary R Benz will lead the company with Cry. Karen Pinto has also been upped to executive VP of production, and Megan Reeves is stepping up to senior VP of development.

Cru’s former lieutenant, Patrice Choghi, who he recently brought in as senior VP of International, will continue in that post, now running the company’s international distribution and production arm.

The rebrand to GRB Studios is designed to reflect the company’s expanded creative direction as a producer and distributor.


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GRB taps Patrice Choghi as international SVP

Sherman Oaks-based content studio and global distributor GRB Entertainment has named former Mark Burnett Productions and Televisa USA executive Patrice Choghi as SVP of international.

In the role, Choghi will be responsible for expanding the profitability and scope of GRB’s international division including sales, acquisitions, and production.

He reports to C. Scot Cru, president of international, who joined the California company earlier this summer.

Choghi previously worked with Cru at Mark Burnett Productions’ international arm over an eight-year period.

Choghi also formerly held roles at Televisa USA as head of unscripted and alternative television; at United Artists as SVP of international strategy and business development; and at One Three Media as VP of international distribution and production.


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