Home / Events / Conferences / The Third Annual Merge Summit: Integrating Faith and Entertainment at The Millennium Biltmore Hotel, Los Angeles AUGUST 18-20, 2011

The Third Annual Merge Summit: Integrating Faith and Entertainment at The Millennium Biltmore Hotel, Los Angeles AUGUST 18-20, 2011

THE MERGE SUMMIT 2011 will host its third annual conference with an all-star line-up of some of the top names in the entertainment industry on August 18-20, 2011 at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel, 506 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA. The event, presented in association with partners EMI Music Publishing, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and UPSCALE magazine, integrates faith and entertainment, and provides a platform for men and women of faith to interface with, learn from and partner with leading executives and talent in the entertainment industry, from New York to Hollywood.

Holly Carter, President and CEO of Relevé Entertainment and founder, President, CEO and Chair of THE MERGE SUMMIT, and Robi Reed, Vice President, Casting and Talent of BET Networks and Co-Chair of THE MERGE SUMMIT, have assembled some of the best talent in film, television, music, media and ministry.

This year, the SUMMIT will host its first annual awards luncheon on Saturday, August 20th.  THE MERGE Corporate Award will be presented to Ketrena Scoggins, Urban Marketing Manager of Anderson; THE MERGE Ministry Award will be presented to Pastor Wayne Chaney, Senior Pastor of Antioch of Long Beach, CA, and THE MERGE Entertainment and Business Award will be presented to Tirrell Whittley, Principal/CEO of Liquid Soul Media.

The multifaceted program, one of the largest entertainment industry events for people of faith, is a complete weekend of inspiration, education and entertainment. Nearly 100 of the industry’s top entertainers and executives will lead more than 20 interactive panel discussions, workshops and Master Class sessions, covering the spectrum of music, television, film, radio, creative development, branding, management and new media.  Throughout the event, actors, directors, producers, writers, and executives will network with attendees, share their insights and give feedback, as well as provide inspiration for their individual journeys.

Confirmed presenters in film include (listed in alphabetical order by first name):  Anthony Hemingway, Director (Treme, Undercovers, True Blood, Heroes, The Wire, CSI: New York City, CSI: Miami); Cameron Mitchell, Talent Agent of Motion Pictures, International Creative Management; Charles King, Senior Vice President of William Morris Endeavor Entertainment; Christopher Hamilton, President of Coup D’Etat Entertainment; Curtis Wallace, COO of TDJ Enterprises and Producer (Jumping the Broom); Dana Sims, Motion Picture Talent Agent of International Creative Management; DeVon Franklin, Vice President of Production, Columbia Pictures; Harry Lennix, Actor (Stomp The Yard, The Matrix, The Five Heartbeats); Keith Weaver, Senior Vice President, Government Affairs, Sony Pictures Entertainment; Marcus King, President of Foxx/King Entertainment; Michael Elliot, Screenwriter (Like Mike, Brown Sugar, Just Wright); Michael Schultz, Director (Car Wash, Cooley High, Krush Groove, Which Way Is Up, Brothers & Sisters, Chuck, Switch at Birth, Cold Case); Ralph Winter, President of 1019 Entertainment/Producer (X-Men, Wolverine, Fantastic Four); Rob Light, Managing Partner/Head of Music of Creative Artists Agency (CAA); Tirrell Whittley, Principal/CEO of Liquid Soul Media; Tosha Whitten-Griggs, President of The Frontpage Firm and Zola Mashariki, Senior Vice President of Production, FOX Searchlight Pictures.

Confirmed presenters in television include (listed in alphabetical order by first name): Charlie Jordan Brookins, Senior Vice President of Original Programming, BET Networks; entertainment industry veteran Debra Langford; Edwina Findlay, Actress (Treme, Red Tails, Brothers & Sisters); Endiya Kinney Sterns, Executive Director, Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN); Eunetta Boone, Writer/Producer (One on One, Cuts, My Wife and Kids); James DuBose, President/CEO of DuBose Entertainment; Janine Sherman Barrois, Writer/Producer (Criminal Minds, ER, Third Watch); Karen Peterkin, VP of Development and Scripted and Alternative Programming, DuBose Entertainment; Kevin Frazier, Host of The Insider; Lamman Rucker, Actor, (Why Did I Get Married, Meet the Browns); Marcus Wiley, Senior Vice President of Comedy Development, FOX; Millicent Shelton, Director (30 Rock, Everybody Hates Chris, The Bernie Mac Show, Girlfriends); Odetta Watkins, Vice President of Current Programs, Warner Brothers Television; Rose Catherine Pinkney, Head of Television, Cinema Gypsy Productions (CBS); Seith Mann, Director (The Wire, Grey’s Anatomy, Heroes); Shana Waterman, Vice President of Current Programming, FOX; Steven Harris, Director, Non-Fiction and Alternative Programming, A&E Television Networks; Traci Lynn Blackwell, Vice President of Current Programs, The CW Network; and Wendy Raquel Robinson, Actress/Philanthropist.
Confirmed presenters in music include (listed in alphabetical order by first name): CeCe Winans, Recording Artist/Philanthropist; Clyde Duffie, President of  theD3 Entertainment Group; Deitrick Haddon, Manhaddon/Tyscot/Verity Recording Artist; Gwendolyn Quinn, President of GQ & Public Relations and Founder of the African American Public Relations Collective (AAPRC); Jon Platt, President of North America Creative, EMI Music Publishing; Dr. Judith McCallister, President of the International Music Department, Church of God In Christ (COGIC); Kelly Griffin, Music Programming and Creator of The BET Music Matters Initiative; Kirk Franklin, Author/Host/Recording Artist; Larry Blackwell, Vice President and General Manager, EMI Gospel; Mali Music, Recording Artist; Marilyn Batchelor, Exec-Licensing for TV and Film, Killer Tracks; Micah Stampley, Music World Gospel/Interface Recording Artist; Myesha Chaney, Kingdomanity Recording Artist; Nichelle Poindexter, Senior Vice President and Head of Music World Gospel; Rhoda Lawrence, Vice President of Universal Music Christian Group; Ricky Anderson, Esq. of Anderson & Smith P. C.; and Vashawn Mitchell, Recording Artist.

Confirmed presenters in media include (listed in alphabetical order by first name): Aundrae Russell, Radio Host, KJLH; Detavio Samuels, Executive Vice President/Director of Client Services, GlobalHue; Marilyn White, Publisher, Precious Times magazine; Meta Washington of Sirius XM Satellite Radio; Sheilah Belle of the Belle Report; and Sonya Blakey, Program Director, Clear Channel (Chicago).

Confirmed presenters in ministry include (listed in alphabetical order by first name): Dr. Debra Morton, Senior Pastor of Greater St. Stephen Full Gospel Baptist Church (New Orleans); Bishop Lester Love, Senior Pastor of The City of Love (New Orleans) and Music World Gospel Recording Artist; and Pastor Mark Baker, Senior Pastor, Greater Works Ministries (Brunswick, GA).

In addition to EMI Music Publishing and UPSCALE magazine, THE MERGE SUMMIT is presented with the support of BET Music Matters, Yamaha Commercial Audio, Bronner Brothers, and Precious Times magazine.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

7:00 p.m.

Opening Night at THE MERGE SUMMIT, a VIP Reception

Hosted by Wendy Raquel Robinson and Kevin Frazier

Friday, August 19, 2011

7:30 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.

The Worship Experience at THE MERGE, with

Dr. Judith McCallister

9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

The Wellness Lounge (by appointment only)

2:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Available for VIP Package attendees. Offers private, complimentary retreat sessions that introduce ancient therapies and innovative treatments such as acupuncture, reflexology, massage therapy, ear candling, and antioxidant screening. All are presented in a warm and relaxing environment and performed by licensed therapists.

8:30 a.m. – 8:40 a.m.

Opening Session

With Dr. Holly Carter and Robi Reed

8:45 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.

MASTER CLASS:  Produced by Faith: Enjoy Real Success without Losing Your True Self Sharing his own journey, including his most recent successes with The Karate Kid and Jumping the Broom, DeVon Franklin will discuss how being bold about his Christian faith, while being driven and ambitious has helped him to excel in a high-profile, competitive industry.  His story will embolden you to use the power of your faith as your greatest professional advantage, and to use the compass of God’s Word to guide you to your true passion and purpose in life.

With DeVon Franklin, Vice President, Production, Columbia Pictures

10:00 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.

Faith & Sugar: The Michael Elliot Story

Inspired by Michael’s romantic comedy Brown Sugar, this is a conversation about how he went from homeless to Hollywood, and how faith played a role in his success. Few know the story behind how Michael went from reading a book on screenwriting one weekend, to selling his first script to a major studio—without representation—for $250,000.

With Michael Elliot, screenwriter (Brown Sugar, Like Mike, Just Wright)

10:00 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.

The Image of Success:

Marketing, Branding and Public Relations

A session in marketing and promoting your gift, your product and your brand, with insights and advice from some of the industry’s best.

With Gwendolyn Quinn, President, GQ Media & Public Relations; Detavio Samuels, Group Manager, GlobalHue; Marilyn Batchelor, Exec- Licensing for TV & Film, Killer Tracks; Angela Dean, President, DeanZign, and Nicole Caldwell, CEO, Just Glam

11:30 a.m. – 12:45 p.m.

A Master Class in Artistry and Inspiration

Cece Winans has a music ministry known the world around.  Alone, and as apart of the legendary brother and sister duo, Bebe & Cece Winans, she has garnered multiple GRAMMY®, Stellar, and Dove awards, and sold millions of records. But if you ask her what she is most proud of, the answer will be far removed from her endless list of accolades, best-selling albums and widespread recognition.

In this special Master Class session, Cece will share her heart, her journey, and the knowledge that has helped her nurture her gift, balance faith and fame, and achieve her greatest triumphs:  a close relationship with God, an amazing marriage, two wonderful children, and the opportunity to live out her purpose—nurturing and empowering youth and young adults .

With Cece Winans
Floor Moderator: Sheilah Belle of The Belle Report

1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Lunch Break

3:45 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Music Publishing, Songwriting and Producers

This session, presented by EMI Music Publishing, explores the diverse ways songwriters and music creators can generate revenue with their creativity and build a viable music career across diverse platforms.

With “Big Jon” Platt, President, North America Creative, EMI Music Publishing, Vashawn Mitchell, EMI Gospel Recording Artist, and more

3:45 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

The Business of Reality TV

Learn from some of TV’s most successful network executives and show producers about the process of developing an original reality series. In this interactive, Q&A driven session, attendees will gain insights into what networks look for, the current pitch climate, and typical parameters of a first-time development deal.

With Steven Harris, Director, Non-Fiction & Alternative Programming, A&E Television Network; Karen Peterkin, VP, Development, Dubose Entertainment, Charlie Jordan Brookins, SVP, Original Programming, BET Networks

3:45 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Inside Motion Pictures

A panel of Hollywood decision-makers, agents and attorneys will provide behind-the-scenes realities of the film business.

With Zola Mashariki, SVP, Production, Fox Searchlight

5:15 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

The Music Business 2011

This session will offer attendees insights, perspectives, advice and strategies for succeeding in today’s ever changing music business, from the individuals who are actively navigating and succeeding in the industry.

With Rhoda Lawrence, Universal Music/Fontana Distribution; Larry Blackwell, VP/General Manager, EMI Gospel, and Singer/Songwriter/Producer Deitrick Haddon (Manhaddon/Tyscot/Verity Records)

5:15 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

The Dream Team

The right representation is key to your success in Hollywood.  Managers and agents are always looking for talent, but how do you capture their attention and build your team?  Learn what agents and managers are looking for and what you should look for in developing your dream team.

With Charles King, Talent Agent, William Morris Endeavor; Dana Sims, Motion Picture Talent Agent, International Creative Management, and Tosha Whitten Griggs, Principal, The Frontpage Firm

6:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Dinner Break

7:00 p.m.

The Merge Showcase

Presented in association with BET Music Matters

Saturday, August 20, 2011

7:30 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.

The Worship Experience at THE MERGE

9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

The Wellness Lounge (by appointment only)

2:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Available for VIP Package attendees. Offers private, complimentary retreat sessions that introduce ancient therapies and innovative treatments such as acupuncture, reflexology, massage therapy and antioxidant screening. All are presented in a warm and relaxing environment and performed by licensed therapists.

8:45 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.

MASTER CLASS: Take Charge!

Entertainment industry veteran Debra Langford returns to THE MERGE SUMMIT and her message will empower us to take charge of our destinies in this business and command our place in the industry as professionals. Take charge and maximize every opportunity using the wisdom you will gain from this incredible woman.

10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Five for Five:  Speed Executive Connecting & Mentoring

Have you ever wanted the chance to ask questions, make connections and get insights from some of the most successful executives in our industry?  THE MERGE SUMMIT is excited to offer you both opportunity and access to top executives at our Executive Speed Connecting & Mentoring event.

In this special session, limited to 100 registrants, attendees will have the opportunity to meet with five executives for five minutes. Attendees will have the chance to ask questions and get the all important feedback on:  transferring of skills, 30-second elevator pitch, style (including appearance tips for interviews), resume review and general insights into the entertainment/media world.

Hosted by Entertainment Industry Veteran Debra Langford, with Keith Weaver, Senior Vice President, Government Affairs, Sony Pictures Entertainment;Gisele Moncure, Director, Employee Engagement & Communications, Sony Computer Entertainment America; Saladin Patterson, Co-Executive Producer, Psych; Lori Lynem, Executive Director, Business Affairs, ABC Family, Brian Wright, Director, Talent Acquisition, Fox Networks Group and Tiffany Smith-Anoa’i, Vice President, Diversity & Communications, CBS Television

10:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

The Merge Leadership Forum

THE MERGE Leadership Forum brings together and engages leaders from the entertainment industry, corporate America, and prominent ministries for a dialogue on bridging the gap.  The goal is to foster collaboration and identify opportunities for mutually beneficial partnerships.

10:00 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.

Lights, Camera, Action! (Director’s Panel)

Come and meet some of film and television’s top directors, and hear about their personal and professional insights to achieving success in the directing game.  Topics will include the dynamics behind breaking into the Hollywood studio system, the changing production model of film and television, the concept of shadowing, as well as advice on how to create personal and professional relationships needed to become a top working director.

With Seith Mann (Friday Night Lights, The Wire, Grey’s Anatomy, Heroes), Millicent Shelton (30 Rock, 90210, Men of A Certain Age, Everybody Hates Chris, Girlfriends), Michael Schultz (Cooley High, Krush Groove, Brothers & Sisters, Cold Case) and Anthony Hemingway (Treme, True Blood, Heroes, The Wire)

10:00 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.

Dealmaking: The Business of Creativity

This panel of experienced attorneys and dealmakers will share with you the art and reality of deal making, including ensuring you have proper legal protection and how to shape projects that are financially viable and appealing to partners and investors.  They will also share other essentials for creating successful deals, including the importance of relationships and relationship building.

With Ricky Anderson, Esq., Anderson & Smith P. C.; Curtis Wallace, Chief Operating Officer, TDJ Enterprises, and Chris Hamilton, President, Coup D’ Etat Entertainment

11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

Anatomy of a Great Artist, presented by BET Music Matters
For 30 years BET has been the place to find some of the most profound musical artists of our time, and the Music Matters initiative, which highlights some of the best up and coming talent from all types of music, continues this tradition.

In “Anatomy of a Great Artist,” Kelly Griffin of the “Music Matters” campaign, and special guest panelists, will share their insights and strategies for growing as an artist, developing your personal “voice” and preparing your music and brand to succeed on the next level.

With Kelly Griffin, Music Programming, BET, Nichelle Poindexter, Senior Vice President/Head of Music World Gospel, and more to be announced

11:15 p.m.  – 12: 15 p.m.

The Actor’s Workshop

These leading actors are all unique in their own way. Yet, whether their forte is theater, television, or film, they have all made sacrifices, faced and overcome challenges, experienced breakthroughs and reaped rewards as they built their acting careers. Discover the common threads that connect actors, and gain valuable insight from these artists, who will share the unvarnished truth behind their success.  The panelists will also share insights, tips and strategies that every actor needs to know to develop and sustain their careers.

With Harry Lennix (Stomp the Yard, The Matrix, The Five Heartbeats), Lamman Rucker (Meet the Browns, Why Did I Get Married?), and more to be announced

12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

The Merge Awards Afternoon Inspiration Lunch

2:15 p.m. -3:30pm

MASTER CLASS: Creating a Legendary Career

As Managing Partner and Head of Music at Creative Artist Agency, Rob Light leads a department that represents many of the world’s most popular and talented musical artists and comedians, including Janet Jackson, Robin Thicke, Stevie Wonder, Corinne Bailey Rae, Christina Aguilera, John Legend, Tom Hanks, Justin Timberlake and Fantasia, to name a few.  In this special MASTER CLASS, he will share secrets and techniques that he’s seen and used to help develop amazing careers, including his own.

With Rob Light, Managing Partner & Head of Music, CAA

3:45 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Hitmakers (Television)

Ever wonder what it takes to become an Executive Producer and Showrunner of a hit television show? Join some of television’s most successful creators/showrunners/executive producers for a conversation about running a hit television series and their journeys to the top of the game.  These top executive producers will also give crucial advice for writers trying to break into and navigating the Hollywood system.

Moderated by Traci Lynn Blackwell, Vice President, Current Programs, The CW Network, with Eunetta Boone (“One on One”, “Cuts”) and Janine Sherman Barrios (Criminal Minds, ER, Third Watch)

3:45 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Producer’s Workshop
Producing a great feature film is never easy.  In this session, panelists, with over 30 films and $2 billion dollars in box office receipts among them, will share their insights about the role of a successful film producer, from developing compelling material,  to finding financing, to building strong collaborative teams, and ultimately, taking the project from script to screen.

Moderated by Ralph Winter (Producer-XMen, Fantastic Four, Wolverine)

3:45 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Success at Radio
The radio panel will address issues such as how to draw and sustain listeners, how to break artists through such diverse radio formats, how to get your records on the air and keep them in rotation.  Get the inside track and insights from the players and decision makers in Internet, terrestrial, and satellite radio.

With Aundrae Russell, Clyde Duffie, Meta Washington, and Sonya Blakey

5:15 p.m. – 6:15 p.m.

Get The Picture! (Television 101/Current Programming)

Whether you aspire to be a creative executive or a television writer, this is the panel for you. Learn from some of television’s top executives what networks and studios look for when developing television series from script to screen.  Attendees will also gain invaluable insight into the pitching and development process, as well as the day-to-day management of current television series, including the staffing of writers and directors.

With Marcus Wiley, Senior Vice President, Comedy Development, Fox; Shana Waterman, Vice President, Current Programming, Fox, and Odetta Watkins, Vice President, Current Programs, Warner Brothers Television

5:15 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

“America’s Next TOP MODEL”: Cultivating a NEW Generation of Entertainment Influencers

While traditional theologies maintain that artists should reserve their gifts for the church, many Christian artists are eager to spread their wings and soar within the mainstream arts and entertainment industries—praying and believing that one day, they’ll become a star. But what does true “Stardom” really mean?

Led by actress Edwina Findley, this inspirational and informative panel offers a behind the scenes look at both the trials and triumphs often experienced by prominent Christians in the entertainment industry, and empowers emerging stars to not only survive, but shine within this challenging arena.

Moderated by Edwina Findlay, with Endiya Kinney-Sterns, Executive Director, The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), Martha Williamson, and Toure Roberts, Pastor, One Church International

6:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.


7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

FREEDOM, THE MERGE Concert Experience

Hosted by Kirk Franklin and starring Deitrick Haddon, GB5 and Mali Music

*Panel sessions and times are subject to change

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About Mike Jones

Michael Jones is the Director of Public Relations for Urban Roundup Group, LLC and Chief Editor of uGospel.com. He began his career in the Gospel Music Industry upon graduating from Rowan University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications. Since then, Jones has had the honor of interviewing Kirk Franklin, Donald Lawrence, Erica Campbell, Deitrick Haddon and many more of Gospel’s elite.
Join over 3.000 visitors who are receiving our newsletter and learn how to optimize your blog for search engines, find free traffic, and monetize your website.
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