AOL Announces 16 Original Programs At The 2014 Digital Content NewFronts; GroupM Exclusive Advertising Partner In Canada

AOL Inc. today announced its 2014 slate of original programming at its Digital Content NewFront in Brooklyn, New York, reaffirming its long-term commitment to creating premium shows with authentic storytelling. Featuring talent and producers such as James Franco, Sarah Jessica Parker, Zoe Saldana, and Ellen DeGeneres, the shows will span topics from family and comedy to business and technology, and will also include AOL’s first long-form series, “Connected.” AOL’s 16 original shows will premiere throughout the year on The AOL On Network, the leading video network for premium, curated content on the Web.

In one of the largest video advertising deals for AOL Canada, GroupM, consisting of Mindshare, Maxus, Mediacom and MEC, has signed on as the exclusive advertising partner for 15 of the AOL Originals shows, which will be shown on the AOL On Network in Canada and across AOL’s suite of premium brands, including AOL.ca and The Huffington Post Canada, among others. The Canadian deal with GroupM includes sponsorship of AOL’s MAKERS, a multi platform digital video program profiling influential women who have changed the course of history. MAKERS first launched in the U.S. and features thousands of videos from more than 230 women and has most recently launched in China. With GroupM on board, AOL will produce MAKERS Canada, and will add the stories of influential Canadian women to the platform.

"We are extremely proud to be delivering a slate of original programming that is reaching audiences on a global scale,” said Charles Gabriel, global SVP of video sales. “GroupM's recognition of the value of this programming for their client portfolio in Canada is an exciting moment in media."

"This opportunity with AOL is another manifestation of GroupM's commitment to support and create original quality production. We are very excited to offer our clients the opportunity to access content that will live across many screens and platforms,” said Stuart Garvie, chief commercial officer Canada, GroupM.

“It is this kind of premium content that sets AOL apart for consumers and advertisers alike,” said Joe Strolz, GM AOL Canada. “At AOL, we continue to invest in authentic voices and original stories to enhance the digital experience across platforms. We are thrilled to see this investment coming as well from our media partners and are looking forward to exploring with GroupM and its valued clients how best to deliver their brand messaging within this premium video experience.”

The 2014 programming slate includes:

"MAKING A SCENE WITH JAMES FRANCO" – Born out of Franco’s love for movies, each episode will feature James and one or more fellow artists discussing their favourite, classic scenes from Hollywood cinema. Then they will put their own stamp on history by recreating these scenes with an irreverent twist. Produced by Rabbit Bandini Productions and Trium Entertainment.

" KEVIN NEALON’S LAUGH LESSONS" - Comedy is hard, but teaching comedy to children is hilariously difficult. Kevin Nealon is giving the challenge to some world-famous comedians in this new AOL series. As these young minds meet with comedy's best, get ready to learn some valuable comedy lessons, and to laugh! If you thought kids say the darnedest things, wait until you hear what these comedians have to say. Executive producers Ellen DeGeneres, Kevin Nealon, Jeff Kleeman Ed Glavin, Andy Lassner, Mary Connelly for Telepictures.

"INSPIRED” features A-list celebrities, visionaries and some of the biggest newsmakers of our generation, recounting the stories behind their most life-changing moments of inspiration. Original photos and archival footage will bring these moments to life along with in-depth interviews. Executive produced by Rick Solomon and brought to you by NewForm, a new digital studio formed in partnership with Discovery Communications, Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Craig Jacobson, Ed Wilson, Jim Wiatt, Michael Rosenberg.

“MY HERO” - Executive produced by Zoe Saldana (who will star in one of the episodes), is an uplifting show featuring celebrities paying a surprise tribute to one person who changed their life by giving them an over-the-top, heart-felt surprise. Produced by Ellen Rakieten Entertainment a division of Relativity Media and Cinestar Productions.

“WIN/WIN” - The biggest names in business join a famous athlete for a day of honest conversation, legitimate fun and surprising insights. Win/Win will provide unprecedented access into the minds of the world’s most-celebrated entrepreneurs and athletes in a compelling, fly-on-the-wall style that will offer fans a fascinating view of what life is really like at the summit of these two increasingly-intertwined worlds. With a mix of candid discussions and story-telling expertise, Win/Win will be the ultimate window on the personalities who define today’s sports and business landscapes. Executive Producers Mike Tollin and Jon Weinbach for Mandalay Sports Media.

“THAT’S RACIST” – Jews and Money. Asian Drivers. Polish IQ. CPT… that's racist! But where do these stereotypes come from? Actor and comedian Mike Epps explores the backstories of this humour and how history and fact often distort into a snide – but sometimes funny – shorthand. Produced by Andrew Fried for Boardwalk Pictures.

“SO MUCH MORE” – Punk rock singer Tom Gabel of Against Me! made news in 2012 when she came out as a transgender woman - but what was more remarkable was the overwhelming support the music community gave her as she made her transition to Laura Jane Grace. This is her story - and the story of other members of the trans community whose experiences are woefully underrepresented and misunderstood in the media. Produced by AOL Studios.

“FOLLOW ME” documents the lives of modern day digital creators that are redefining the definition of celebrity. Each episode features a different star allowing us unprecedented access into their life to share their story. We’ll experience life when the vlogging, instagramming, and tweeting stops... If it ever does. Produced by Fullscreen, the first media company for the connected generation.

“THE ROAD TO DISRUPT” - A twelve episode documentary series following five startup companies competing in the 2013 San Francisco TechCrunch Disrupt Startup Battlefield as they fine tune their products and eventually present in front of a panel of judges in hopes of winning $50,000 in funding. Produced by AOL Studios.

“IN SHORT” – Launched yesterday on AOL, this five episode series from Academy Award-winning producer Christine Vachon and JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI producer Kevin Iwashina features a talented group of actors including  Katie Holmes (MISS MEADOWS),  Jeff Garlin (THE GOLDBERGS),  Alia Shawkat (ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT),  James Purefoy (THE FOLLOWING) and  Judy Greer (THE DESCENDANTS) as they step behind the camera to create their own short-form documentaries. Each episode is seen through the eyes of a different actor as they take a seat in the director’s chair for an in-depth look at the cultural ideas, inspirations and influences most important to them. The series is produced by Killer Digital, the digital platform production company launched by award-winning producer, author and founder/partner of Killer Films Christine Vachon and Preferred Content co-founder/Managing Partner Kevin Iwashina.

CONNECTED [long-form] – AOL’s first long-form video series chronicles the lives of five seemingly disconnected New Yorkers as they explore the concept of family in New York City. As five parallel stories unfold and eventually come together in a cohesive storyline, viewers are reminded of the universal bond that family has on individuals and on society as a whole -- regardless of social status, income, gender, marital status or sexual orientation. Produced by Koda Communications in association with Warrior Poets.

"#CANDIDLYNICOLE"  – Fashion icon, creative director of House of Harlow 1960 and Winter Kate, and mom, Nicole Richie brings her unfiltered sense of humor and unique perspective on life in a series based on her clever Twitter feed. "#CANDIDLYNICOLE" follows the outspoken host's daily insights as she shares her uncensored perspective on style, parenting, relationships and her journey through life. The series is produced by Telepictures and World of Wonder, with executive producers Nicole Richie and Michael Baum. Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato & Tom Campbell serve as executive producers for World of Wonder.

"CITY.BALLET." Return to the intimate and exciting world of the New York City Ballet, where executive producer Sarah Jessica Parker takes a closer look at the compelling lives of the company members; their hopes, their dreams, their passion and their hardships, both on stage and off. Produced by Pretty Matches Productions and Zero Point Zero Production, the series is sponsored by Citi.

"THE FUTURE STARTS HERE"  – Webby Awards founder and celebrated filmmaker Tiffany Shlain takes us on a series of wildly entertaining, daring, and inspiring rides that explore what it means to be human in an increasingly connected world. The series is sponsored by Verizon.

"HARDWIRED 2.0"  – Digital influencer Justine Ezarik (iJustine) is back. After covering the world of wearable tech last season, iJustine is expanding her coverage this year by profiling the hottest tech trends across the country. The show's second season topics will range from gaming to beauty tech and will showcase iJustine's trademark fun personality while featuring the latest trending topics. The series is sponsored by Verizon.

AOL’s 2014 original programming builds on the success of the 2013 slate. With VH1 set to release half-hour episodes of #CandidlyNicole in July, AOL has proven that the lines between traditional TV and digital have become increasingly blurred, and that great content can truly be found on every screen. AOL Video ranks 3 rd in Canada for total videos viewed; in March 2014, Canadians viewed more than 305 million videos on AOL properties, according to comScore Video Metrix.

About AOL

AOL Inc. (NYSE:AOL) is a brand company, committed to continuously innovating, growing, and investing in brands and experiences that inform, entertain, and connect the world. The home of a world-class collection of premium brands, AOL creates original content that engages audiences on a local and global scale. We help marketers connect with these audiences through effective and engaging digital advertising solutions.

Source: comScore Inc. Video Metrix Canada, March 2014.

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