Los Angeles-based prodco Sonar Entertainment has promoted president of global distribution and co-productions David Ellender to CEO. Ellender starts today in the position and is replacing Tom Lesinski, who is moving to the company’s board of directors.
Ellender has been at Sonar since 2016 leading worldwide sales programs for the studio’s series across traditional and digital media platforms. He was also responsible for overseeing the company’s growth into Europe, Asia and LatAm and growing its slate of co-pros.
Prior to working at Sonar, Ellender worked as the CEO of indie prodco Slingshot Global Media, which he founded in 2014. Before that he served as CEO of British prodco Fremantlemedia Enterprises for 12 years, and also served as president of Universal Studios Television International for EMEA.
Lesinski, meanwhile, oversaw Sonar’s expansion into the kids and family space back in 2017 when he led the company’s acquisition of Toronto-based producer/distributor Tricon Films. Under the acquisition the company took on Tricon’s kid’s properties, including Disney XD’s 52 x 11-minute animated toon Counterfeit Cat and the 52 x 11-minute animated series Go Away Unicorn, which debuted on Canadian kidsnet YTV in fall 2018. At the time, the indie prodco also hired Tricon’s former president and co-founder Andrea Gorfolova to lead its family and factual entertainment division.
At the end of last year the company received US$121 million in new production financing, part of which was earmarked for a bigger push into kid’s content, said Lesinski at the time. He added that the company could have as many as four kids’ shows on the air by the end of 2019 and that Sonar wanted to continue growing in the space over the next three years.
Since the beginning of 2019, the only new kids show from the prodco is the CBC Gem original live-action sci-fi series Utopia Falls (10 x 60 minutes). Set to stream on the platform in 2020, the tween-skewing series follows a group of teens on a distant colony who discover musical and cultural relics as they train to compete in a performing arts competition.
There is no word on what Ellender has planned for Sonar’s kids and family division moving forward.