Peter Tortorici Recruits New Talent From L.A. and New York to India and China

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NEW YORK -- Peter Tortorici wants to create what he calls a worldwide “virtual studio” for branded entertainment.
Chet Fenster is the latest hire to help Group M oversee branded entertainment projects worldwide.

As part of that effort, Mr. Tortorici, president of WPP Group's Group M Entertainment, has recruited producer and programming executive Chet Fenster to direct content creation at Mediaedge:cia, one of WPP’s four media agencies.

The addition of Mr. Fenster follows Mr. Tortorici’s appointment of David Lang as director of programming at Mindshare Entertainment, and the addition of Kate Marsh, an ex-consultant and head of Primo Channels for Sky Italia, to Group M Entertainment in London. Suku Murti recently began handling branded entertainment projects in India for the company. Soon to follow: new hires in Southeast Asia as well as in Greater China.

Mr. Tortorici said the new hires will enable the company to collaborate on projects and keep an eye out for ideas produced worldwide that might interest brands.

'Good core' to man global network

The crew comprises “a good core of what our global network looks like,” Mr. Tortorici said. “In each territory, we’ll have the ability to identify great creative ideas and manage the creative process.”

Mr. Fenster most recently served as head of program development at music cable channel Fuse, where he led content development and sought out ideas and scripts for programming.

“Ours was such a young demographic -- 19 years old,” he said. “We put a real emphasis on multiple platforms -- the Internet, cell phones, video-on-demand and linear TV.”

Prior to his year and a half at Fuse, Mr. Fenster was founder and president of Kinetic Pictures, where he created and produced TV and film properties. He was co-executive producer of ESPN's high-profile biopic “A Season on the Brink,” about college basketball coach Bobby Knight that starred Brian Dennehy.

“I optioned the book, got some financing, hired the writer and director,” Mr. Fenster said. “It was a big risk for ESPN to move into scripted programming.”

Introduction leads to job

A joint acquaintance introduced Mr. Fenster and Mr. Tortorici several years ago, and the two stayed in touch. As he was expanding Group M, Mr. Tortorici called Mr. Fenster, then at Fuse, and suggested he join the agency.

“I was working on a lot of brand partnerships at Fuse,” recalled Mr. Fenster, “so I knew a bit of what I’d be dealing with. But in working with Peter, Rino [Scanzoni, chief investment officer, Mediaedge:cia], Charles [Courtier, executive chairman, Mediaedge:cia] and Irwin [Gotlieb, CEO of Group M], I felt I could learn a whole different side of the business I didn’t know much about.”

In his new post, Mr. Fenster will help develop and produce content for Mediaedge:cia clients, which include L.L. Bean, Cadbury Schweppes, DHL and Cingular Wireless. He is based in New York and Los Angeles and reports to Mr. Tortorici, who is based in Los Angeles.

The agency introduced Cingular to the Fox network years ago, ultimately pairing the mobile phone company with “American Idol,” and is constantly on the hunt for ways to enrich the relationship with the network.

Articulating Cingular's role in content

“They are a distribution system for content and entertainment,” said Mr. Tortorici of Cingular Wireless. “Our job is to help them articulate the possibilities of what they might be able to accomplish in content.”

Group M Entertainment’s growing global network offers potential advantages to the development of branded entertainment opportunities for clients, Mr. Fenster said.

“We have the ability to share tactics, and to find out what’s happening around the world,” he said. “That’s especially true in mobile, where so much more is being done outside of the U.S. We’re also able to activate programs worldwide for global clients.”
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