ESPN Content Chief Connor Schell To Set Up Production Company Following Exit, Jodi Markley To Retire

Peter White
·3 min read

Connor Schell, ESPN’s content boss, has confirmed that he is leaving the Disney-owned sports network to set up his own independent production company, Sportico sister publication Deadline reports.

Schell, one of the architects of the broadcaster’s 30 for 30 documentary strand and exec producer on Michael Jordan series The Last Dance and OJ: Made In America, will leave the business on Jan. 8.

Separately, Jodi Markley, Executive Vice President, Content Operations & Creative Services, is retiring and will step down April 2. Markley has been with the business since 1989.

This comes after ESPN unveils cut around 500 jobs worldwide including around 300 layoffs—around 10% of its workforce.

Schell has not offered many details of his new venture, although he will still work closely with ESPN Films and on the 30 for 30 strand and The ESPYs. He will also continue to serve as exec producer of its Colin Kaepernick docuseries and nine-part Tom Brady docuseries Man in the Arena.

Jimmy Pitaro, Chairman, ESPN and Sports Content, said, “When Jodi and Connor each approached me about starting their next chapters, those conversations were filled with mixed emotions. Jodi has been a trailblazer, not just at ESPN, but throughout our industry, and, because of her entrepreneurial approach, ESPN has always led the way. Connor is an exceptional storyteller who has led some of the biggest content success stories in all of media. He brings great vision and passion to his work and that’s why I’m particularly pleased that he will continue to partner with ESPN on our film development and ESPYS initiatives in his new role. I am very happy for both of them; they have accomplished so much here and will certainly be missed at ESPN.”

Schell added, “ESPN is an incredible place and it has been a true privilege to be a part of this team for the past 16+ years. I am so thankful to Jimmy Pitaro and Bob Iger for their creative leadership and to my remarkable colleagues across ESPN whose work inspires and entertains sports fans every single day. As I launch this new production company, I am excited to transition back to a role where I can more directly tell stories and I couldn’t think of a better way to get started than continuing to work on 30 for 30 with Jimmy and ESPN.”

Markley added, “It has been an honor and a privilege to be a part of ESPN over the past 32 years. I am proud of the industry-leading innovation and creativity of our team, and feel blessed to have worked alongside such incredibly talented people who love what they do. I am confident in the direction we are headed under Jimmy Pitaro and will enjoy my next chapter as a fan.”

Following these changes, Pitaro has unveiled the senior leadership team. They include Chara-Lynn Aguiar, Vice President, Strategy and Office of the Chairman; Stephanie Druley, Executive Vice President, Event and Studio Production; Laura Gentile, Senior Vice President, Marketing & Social Media; Thomas Hennessy, Senior Vice President, Finance; Rob King, Senior Vice President, Editor-At-Large; Chris LaPlaca, Senior Vice President, Communications; Burke Magnus, Executive Vice President, Programming and Original Content; Kevin Merida, Senior Vice President and Editor-in-Chief, The Undefeated; Diane Morse, Chief Counsel; Paul Richardson, Senior Vice President, Human Resources; Tina Thornton, Senior Vice President, Content Operations; and Mark Walker, Senior Vice President, Content Business.

“Going forward, our newly-formed senior leadership group is poised to drive future success. The talented team is comprised of gifted and respected leaders. They are diverse thinkers who bring a collaborative spirit and a necessary focus on future strategy. I’m thrilled to have them as colleagues,” added Pitaro.

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