Magilla Entertainment is one of the nation’s largest independently owned production companies in non-scripted TV. Founded in 2009, Magilla is owned by longtime colleagues and executive producers, Matthew Ostrom and Laura Palumbo Johnson; each of whom have been active in the television world collectively and individually for over 20 years. Matthew and Laura possess a diverse background, having worked with a wide variety of media outlets on all forms of non-scripted television – docu-reality, celeb-reality, competition reality, scripted hybrid, makeover, hidden camera, game show and talk/variety shows. Their careers include producing, line producing, writing and directing, as well as developing and selling television.
Magilla Entertainment has enjoyed success from a diverse portfolio of over 45 separate and unique series including hit shows such as Discovery’s Moonshiners and Diesel Brothers, TLC’s Long Island Medium, HGTV’s Beach Front Bargain Hunt franchise, and History Channel’s American Ripper , three-part mini-series –Cars That Built America and one-hour documentary –Rise Up:The Movement That Changed America.
Matthew Ostrom – Owner and Executive Producer Matthew Ostrom began his television career as an Associate Producer and Co-Host of Sound fX, a live music show that helped launch the fX Network. Following that success Matt spent a decade creating, performing and producing comedy in the New York City underground comedy scene while balancing a career developing and producing on television shows such as HBO’s The Chris Rock Show, Comedy Central’s Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn and ABC’s Wife Swap. As Matt’s ability as a television producer and show runner grew, his skills as an unscripted storyteller were being honed on the improvisational comedy stages of NYC. The genre of unscripted television took off and Matt was uniquely positioned for success when he became the VP of Development at Original Media where he oversaw and developed 17 series, creating 13 of them. The most notable network franchises that he built were History’s Swamp People and Discovery’s Dual Survivor. Additionally, he oversaw TLC’s LA Ink, Discovery’s Storm Chasers and a handful of HGTV home formats. From that success Matt stepped away and partnered with Laura Palumbo Johnson to create Magilla Entertainment. Since then, he has written, directed and created over 40 network series.
Laura Palumbo Johnson – Owner and Executive Producer Laura Palumbo Johnson began working in all aspects of NYC television, from crew to executive assistant to studio production manager on LIVE Satellite Media tours. Laura then learned the craft of lifestyle and studio television on the Hearst syndicated hit B. Smith with Style. After managing numerous unscripted series, she joined start-up City Lights Television, where she rose to EIC of Operations supervising hundreds of episodes of television including 9 seasons of HGTV’s Don’t Sweat It, AMC’s Movie’s 101 and the creation of the Food Network mega-hit, Chopped. At the same time, Laura also created CLTV’s International Development division where she brokered formats worldwide including Chopped. When Laura partnered with Matt to form Magilla Entertainment, she was able to utilize her prior management experiences and operational knowledge to build the company with stability and they turned their first straight-to-series sale of Oxygen’s Jersey Couture into a thriving production company. Currently, Laura also serves as executive board founding committee member of NPACT, a leading and internationally recognized 100+ company association.
Jason Fox – President With over 20 years of experience in the entertainment industry Jason oversees development, organization and implementation of the overall business strategy of Magilla Entertainment. Prior to joining Magilla Entertainment, Jason was an agent in the New York office of the non-scripted division of the Creative Artists Agency. Fox began his career as a political reporter for New York 1 News before entering the mailroom at the William Morris Agency in 2002. Fox graduated with honors from Rutgers College of Rutgers University with a degree in both Journalism and Politics.
Valerie Smaltini – EVP, Production Operations Valerie Fisher Smaltini began her career as audio assistant at a post mixing house, learning all aspects of television operations. She spent 10 years at Food Network’s New York headquarters heading up production operations. After Food, she managed various projects for clients including DIY, Lidia Bastinach and PBS, and at indie production companies, New Animal Productions and Tapestry International, where she was part of the Emmy award winning team of Greatest Inventions with Bill Nye. She has served as adjunct faculty at Brookdale Community College, where she taught multi-camera production. Smaltini is a graduate of Syracuse University’s Newhouse School.
Josh Abrahamson – SVP, Development and Current Series Hailing from Fargo, ND (with only a slight accent), NYC was a big change back when Josh met Matt and Laura as an intern on the TLC show Help Wanted over 15 years ago. After completing his Film / TV BA, Josh returned to NYC and began working with Laura at City Lights Television as Show PA on Marcus Samuelsson’s first TV project Inner Chef. Over the following years, Josh worked through each of the significant positions, eventually Directing and Producing 8 seasons of HGTV’s Don’t Sweat It and numerous projects with various companies like Notional, RDF Media, and Yahoo before coming on board, and reuniting with Matt and Laura at Magilla in development. Drawn to the relentless creativity, challenging odds, and ever-evolving landscape of development work, Abrahamson found his midwestern work ethic and upbringing advantageous in reaching new ground and breaking through wherever the job takes him. No matter where he finds himself day-to-day, Josh is constantly trying to find the stories that surround us, but at the very least he’s stockpiling a very odd collection of experiences and embraces that idea fully. Josh is a graduate of Montana State University.
Sabine Kertscher – SVP, Post Production Sabine Kertscher has extensive experience in post-production management with a strong practical and technical background in both feature film and TV. In a career spanning over 16 years, she has worked with internationally renowned filmmakers and post-houses. At Mill Film London, Sabine landed her first job as a 2D vfx artist on Ridley Scott’s academy award-winning Black Hawk Down. She then went on to work as a 2D Compositor on blockbuster films including Lara Croft: The Cradle of Life (Jim Henson’s Creature Shop), Pierce Brosnan’s Evelyn and for directors such as Tim Burton and Bruce Beresford. Since moving to NYC in 2004, she has worked as a post-production supervisor and workflow consultant for many production companies. Sabine holds an MA in History of Art, Musicology and Philosophy.
Zoran Zgonc – VP, Development Zoran joined Magilla with over 20 years experience in developing and producing numerous series, specials, live programs and pilots. He has developed shows for a variety of broadcasters from CBS to MTV, VH1, Bravo, Tru TV, and Animal Planet, and produced for such television icons as Jerry Seinfeld, Oprah Winfrey and David Letterman. Zoran received a B.A in Communications with a minor in Film from Duquesne University in his hometown of Pittsburgh, PA.
Jennifer Weinberg – VP, Current Series With over 15 years of experience, Jennifer began her career as the personal assistant to NBC Today Show’s, Al Roker. She went on to produce hit shows and live events on networks such as Bravo, Lifetime, HGTV, Food Network, Animal Planet and MSNBC, to name a few. She joined the team at Magilla Entertainment in 2010, and has climbed the ladder producing, showrunning, and executive producing various pilots and hit series including, Beach/Lakefront Bargain Hunt and Beach/Lakefront Bargain Hunt Renovation. Jennifer holds a B.A. in Broadcasting and Mass Communications from SUNY Oswego.
Dominick Pupa – VP, Current Series As the Vice President of Current Series at Magilla, he also serves as the Co-Executive Producer of Long Island Medium. Prior to joining Magilla, Dominick was Emmy-nominated for his work in daytime, and served as a producer or EP on some of the biggest hits of the reality age, including: Bravo’s Real Housewives of Atlanta, Blood Sweat & Heels, Real Housewives of New York, and Don’t Be Tardy for the Wedding, ABC’s The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, and Wife Swap, Logo’s The A-List: New York, and Style Network’s Married Away and Whose Wedding Is It Anyway. Outside of his career in television, Dominick is also a comedy writer and performer, recently performing at Carnegie Hall. He has a bulldog named Gravy, who was recently described by his neighbor as “the ugliest creature I have ever seen.”
Kevin Allgood – VP, Current Series With more than 10 years of experience in television, Kevin has worked as an executive producer, showrunner, producer and editor on a wide range of series and development projects. He got his start cutting shows for networks like MTV, VH1, History, TLC, Travel, HGTV, DIY, Cooking Channel and Lifetime. Kevin got out of the edit chair to seek new challenges as a series producer and showrunner before becoming Vice President of Television at The Weinstein Company. As VP he developed pilots and presentations for MTV, AMC, Spike, and Lifetime, and helped create the late night talk show Geeking Out for AMC. Since Joining Magilla as VP of Current Series, Kevin has overseen projects including The Cars That Made America and Road Hauks for History, along with Shiners on Shine and Distillation Restoration for Discovery.
Courtney Maglione – VP, Casting and Talent Development With over 15 years experience in television, Courtney Maglione has cast shows in production and development for a multitude of networks. She joined Magilla in 2011 as a development producer, aiding in the growth of their casting department. She began her career in production at MTV Networks working on shows such as Room Raiders, My Super Sweet 16 and Discover and Download. Early in her career she developed a niche for finding extraordinary talent and became the casting director for Total Request Live as well as many of the networks live events, specials, and promos. In addition to working in non-scripted television, Courtney has cast national commercial spots for companies such as Honda, Best Western and AAA as well as several independent films. Courtney graduated with honors from Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism.
Cristin Cricco-Powell – Executive Producer Cristin Cricco-Powell started her career 20 years ago in development at Comedy Central. From there she went on to produce or direct shows for Comedy Central, A&E, History, ABC, TLC, MTV, and Discovery Europe. She feels very lucky to have a job that introduces her to people and places she’d otherwise never see. She worked Carnival in Rio dressed as a human motorcycle on Insomniac with Dave Attell, directed the Gotti boys (and practiced her Italian apologies) in Italy on Growing Up Gotti, talked treasure with the Greatest Generation on American Pickers, and learned how to handle anything TV throws at her as Co-EP of ABC’s Wife Swap. She’s currently learning all about badass trucks as EP of Discovery’s Diesel Brothers, and she’s proud to have produced History’s Rise Up: The Movement That Changed America, a one-hour doc on the Civil Rights Movement. She has two small kids and a BFA in Screenwriting from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.
Marc Palumbo – VP, Information Technology & Facilities Marc Palumbo has over 20 years of professional experience in the field of Information Technology, with a background on information security, systems administration, networking, and technical support. He has worked, consulted, and led various IT departments in a variety of industries, including advertising, software, hospitality, and health care, and, currently, with the television industry at Magilla Entertainment. His expertise lies in moving companies forward with the right use of technology to fit the company’s needs. He holds a B.S. in Management Information Systems from LeMoyne College and, in his spare time, writes music for the piano!
Mark Ragone – General Counsel Mark has more than 20 years experience as an in‐house entertainment and intellectual property law attorney. As Magilla’s General Counsel, Mark is responsible for negotiating, drafting and reviewing a wide variety of agreements in connection with Magilla’s operations, production personnel, television series and related projects. In addition, Mark counsels and advises Magilla’s executives in connection with all facets of Magilla’s operations and corporate strategy. Prior to joining Magilla, Mark was the EVP of Legal and Business Affairs for City Lights TV, a New York based TV production company, where he handled the business and legal affairs for the company and its related TV and Film divisions. Before City Lights, he served as the Head of Business Affairs for the New York based indie Palm Pictures, where he applied his expertise in connection with film, TV, video, music, new media and related entertainment business agreements for all of Palm’s entities and as well as for projects marketed and distributed by all major film and TV distributors. Prior to joining Palm, Mark practiced law in the private sector with prominent entertainment law firms which represented various independent and major film and music companies and related films (Sling Blade, Tumbleweeds, Black and White, American Buffalo, Outside Providence) and talent (Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, ‘N Sync). He received his JD from Hofstra School of Law and holds a B.A. from Hofstra University School of Government and International Affairs.
Judi Chandler – CFO Judi Chandler began her career analyzing client profitability and designing reporting systems customized to individual client contracts for an ad agency. After earning a BS in accounting, she assumed the role of controller for the agency. Later Judi applied her knowledge of project based accounting to a controller role in a theatrical prop production house. The position grew to include human resources, benefits administration and oversight of IT and administrative functions. When the company merged with a prop rental house, Judi was responsible for consolidation of the accounting records, banking, benefits, and IT functions. At Magilla, Judi oversees production payroll, corporate accounting, financial reporting, benefits, HR, tax filing, and treasury management.