Sandra Stern is Chief Operating Officer of Television for Lionsgate. Responsible for running all business, legal and administrative aspects of the television division, she spearheads its strategy, transactions and negotiations and continues to explore innovative and cost-efficient production options.
Stern’s contributions have been pivotal to Lionsgate’s emergence as a leading supplier of content to cable and broadcast networks. One of the industry’s most forward-thinking strategists and creative dealmakers, she has been instrumental in forging new relationships and business models that have paved the way for such Lionsgate productions as the multiple Emmy and Golden Globe-winning series MAD MEN, AMC’s first original drama series which recently completed its third season; CRASH, the original drama from the producers of Lionsgate’s Oscar-winning film, which launched its second season on Starz in September; the hit comedy WEEDS starring Golden Globe winner Mary-Louise Parker, which will return to Showtime for its sixth season this summer; Showtime’s critically acclaimed comedy series NURSE JACKIE starring three-time Emmy Award winner Edie Falco, which is now in production on Season 2; the reality competition series SCREAM QUEENS for VH1, which recently began shooting its second season; and the new college football comedy series BLUE MOUNTAIN STATE, which launches this month on Spike TV.
Stern’s innovative deal-making has allowed Lionsgate to bypass the pilot stage and go straight to series on several projects, including the drama series CRASH, for which she was able to adapt a complex indie film and financing model involving nine producers to the more limited constraints of a TV structure; the NBC anthology series FEAR ITSELF, for which she carved out rights and put together an international tax deal, international equity financing, a window for FEARnet, and a home video window to deliver the 13-episode primetime series to NBC for a fraction of the license fee the network would ordinarily pay for such a production; and the 8-episode limited series THE KILL POINT for Spike TV. In addition, she was able to negotiate a two-season pickup of WEEDS, which guarantees Lionsgate six full seasons of the series.
As part of Lionsgate’s ongoing initiative to expand its television business, Stern created a television joint programming venture with Michael Hirschorn and Stella Stolper’s Ish Entertainment, which entered into the partnership with a commitment for three TV series, including the reality competition series “Paris Hilton’s My New BFF,” “50 Cent: The Money and the Power” and “T.I’s Road to Redemption” under a first-look deal with MTV Networks. She recently negotiated another new joint television venture with Lost Marble Productions’ Marty Adelstein and Jon Kroll to produce original unscripted programming. She also helped guide Lionsgate into the emerging area of international format production. In addition, Lionsgate has television development deals with Roy Lee and Doug Davison’s Vertigo Entertainment, Brian Robbins’ Varsity Pictures, and Steve Buscemi’s and Stanley Tucci’s Olive Productions.
Stern has expanded Lionsgate’s cost-efficient production opportunities by developing and managing relationships with the governments of New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Louisiana and Canada. She also played a key role in forming the company’s feature length documentary unit by creating the business model to finance these projects through co-productions with TV networks. The unit’s first production was Werner Herzog’s 2005 Sundance award-winning documentary GRIZZLY MAN, which debuted on Discovery Channel after its successful domestic theatrical run. Since then, Stern has served as an executive producer on all of the unit’s subsequent productions, including LEONARD COHEN I'M YOUR MAN; THE U.S. vs. JOHN LENNON; and most recently, the award-winning FACING ALI, which chronicles the history of Muhammad Ali through the eyes of fighters he faced over the years. The film was produced with Spike TV and is set to air in February. Other recent productions include GUYS ‘N’ DIVAS: BATTLE OF THE HIGH SCHOOL MUSICALS, produced with Spitfire Pictures and Showtime about real high school musicals, which aired on Showtime; and STREET DOGS OF SOUTH CENTRAL, produced in partnership with Animal Planet, which follows a family of dogs living on the streets of South Central Los Angeles.
Stern has also been instrumental in launching Lionsgate’s first foray into the area of live theater with the stage production of DIRTY DANCING. After sold-out performances in Australia, New Zealand, Germany, The Netherlands and on London’s West End, the show began its U.S. tour in Chicago and made its West Coast premiere in Los Angeles in the spring of 2009.
Stern joined Lionsgate in 2003 as Executive Vice President, Business and Legal Affairs, and in 2005, was promoted to her current post. She previously served as Chief Operating Officer of Artists Television Group, where she helped create and structure the company and directed its business affairs, legal, finance, administrative and production operations. Prior to that, she worked for eight years, first as Senior Vice President, then Executive Vice President of the Columbia TriStar Television Group at Sony Pictures Entertainment, working closely with Columbia TriStar Television Group head Jon Feltheimer.
From 1986 through 1991, Stern was senior vice president in charge of business affairs and international development at New World Entertainment, where she put together the first ever international co-production for a U.S. broadcast network.
A graduate of UCLA Law School, Stern began her career in the Columbia Pictures Television legal department, followed by a stint as a television attorney with the law firm that is now Bloom, Hergott, Cook, Diemer & Klein.