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In the business of shaping entertainment: Jeff Schneider
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Wednesday, January 18, 2023
Jeff Schneider (JD 1991) is EVP Production Operations and Business Affairs at National Geographic Partners
By Julie Riggott
Development and production of content are why Jeff Schneider (JD 1991), EVP Production Operations and Business Affairs at National Geographic Partners, got into entertainment more than 30 years ago.
“I get energized by working with creators and creative executives,” says Schneider, who has been with National Geographic since 2015 when he was hired as EVP of Business and Legal Affairs. “I also love working with so many people with whom I have long-standing relationships, such as the agents and opposing counsel that we see repeatedly.”
Today Schneider oversees the negotiation of numerous deals, from writers to production companies, for all the television shows and movies National Geographic develops and produces. He’s also responsible for all business operations, systems and processes.
“A typical day is answering about 200 emails,” he says. “Seriously, though, my job is sort of being an ‘organizational fireman,’ which can include managing challenges that impact our company.” That includes the adjustments necessary when the television distribution model changed to streaming, and The Walt Disney Company acquired National Geographic.
Having started as a litigator and serving in executive roles with Paramount, MTV, Viacom, 20th Century Fox, A&E Networks and NBCUniversal, among others, Schneider has a broad perspective on the industry.
“My first in-house job and my first transactional job, as production counsel at Paramount Pictures Television in the 1990s, was about as fun as a job can be,” he says. “I really learned the nitty-gritty of how mainstream television is made as the lawyer on shows like Frasier and the Star Trek franchise.”
The tools he acquired as a student at USC Gould have helped him demonstrate agility.
“The most important lesson I learned in law school was to focus on general tools and how to analyze complex problems,” says Schneider, who has taught as an adjunct at USC Gould, Carnegie Mellon and Pepperdine. “I teach now at Georgetown, and I tell all of my students, ‘Keep your intellectual toolkit as broad and general as possible because you never know what you’ll have to adjust to.’
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