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Magical Elves Names Joel Zimmer Head Of Development, Ups Samantha Hanks To Head Of Casting & Talent Relations

Denise Petski

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Top Chef and Project Runway producer Magical Elves has hired veteran TV producer and development executive Joel Zimmer as EVP Development, and promoted longtime Magical Elves casting executive Samantha Hanks to EVP, Casting and Talent Relations.

“With the addition of Joel, and the elevation of Samantha, Magical Elves has the right leadership in place to continue our growth, and further evolve our slate of quality, aspirational programming,” said Co-CEOs Casey Kriley and Jo Sharon, in making the announcement.“Samantha’s contributions to casting and attracting high-caliber talent has been a key factor in our current success, and with Joel’s added expertise and enthusiasm, both executives will play a crucial role in dreaming up and creating the next generation of hit projects for Magical Elves.”

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As EVP of Development, Zimmer will lead the team responsible for all development and sales for Magical Elves. A veteran content creator and media executive, Zimmer’s first producing job was with Magical Elves on an early season of Last Comic Standing (NBC). More recently, Zimmer ran an independent banner, Snow Day Entertainment, which produced and developed projects with A&E Originals, Fox Studios, and Zee Americas. Prior to that, Zimmer was Head of Current for 495 Productions where he oversaw and executive produced over 500 hours of programming for a variety of cable and broadcast networks, and served as showrunner on multiple series that set network ratings records, including Design Star for HGTV and Dance Your Ass Off for Oxygen. His additional producing credits include America’s Got Talent for NBC and Blue Collar Millionaires for CNBC.

“There’s not a Magical Elves series over the last decade that I haven’t secretly wished I had created or worked on,” said Zimmer, “I’m thrilled to work with Casey, Jo and their amazing team as we start a new decade and develop even more series that bring the signature Magical Elves brand of elevated storytelling and characters.”

In Hanks’ expanded role, she will continue to oversee all casting of talent and contestants for the company’s entire slate of projects, while also exploring additional strategic partnerships for Magical Elves. In her tenure, Hanks has overseen key casting on projects including the Emmy-nominated Netflix hit Nailed It!, as well as the most recent seasons of Project Runway for Bravo. Other credits include the Brain Games reboot for Nat Geo, hosted by Keegan-Michael Key, as well as Bravo’s Emmy- nominated Top Chef, Netflix’s Sugar Rush, Universal Kids’ Top Chef Junior and American Ninja Warrior Junior, and Oxygen’s true crime series Cold Justice produced by Dick Wolf. Prior to joining the Elves, Hanks produced Star Plates with culinary expert Gail Simmons for Food Network, and also worked for film producers Jane Rosenthal at Tribeca Productions, Lynda Obst at Paramount Pictures and director/producer Jon Favreau.

“Over the past ten years, Magical Elves has become my home,” said Hanks, “I’m extremely proud of the work our team has produced, and I look forward to building even more relationships with first-rate talent and network partners.”

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