As a child growing up in New York City, David DiVona would often watch the syndicated Carol Burnett Show and laugh and laugh, never realizing that a love of classic television would be what would eventually lead him to launch his future company, Proven Entertainment.
The Los Angeles-based distribution company, which launched six years ago, has acquired a library of over 10,000 titles in all genres— but his most successful shows are the classics he’s always loved.
“The Carol Burnett Show: The Lost Episodes is one of mine,” the 41-year-old DiVona told VideoAge while enjoying lunch at The Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills.
He’s a regular there, and stopped to schmooze with other entertainment types seated throughout the eatery before we sat down to discuss the overwhelming success he’s been able to enjoy while distributing a variety of content and television shows that are older than he is.
“Rowan & Martin’s Laugh In, The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, and Carol have really delivered for us. Those were simpler times, and people are nostalgic for the classics,” he said.
Back in the day, when producers owned their shows outright, unless a program was syndicated, the show simply died off. This left a lot of great programming without a home.
DiVona was determined to fix this problem. With tattoos adorning both his arms, he looks more like a rock star than an entertainment industry heavyweight, but his enthusiasm for the market has been clear to him (and others) from the very beginning.
“Back when I first started, in 2013, I hit all the film festivals trying to acquire content,” he explained. “I wanted to broaden the platform for independent filmmakers and expand the way viewers would consume their content.”
Times have changed since then. Proven Entertainment now enjoys a worldwide reach and has deals in place with most major networks and streaming platforms.
And while he does love him an oldie-but-a-goodie, DiVona hasn’t ignored the modern era. “Hallmark Channel, Lifetime TV, and groundbreaking documentaries are very valuable additions to our catalogue.” DiVona continued.
But it isn’t just the content that got Proven where it is today. “One of the things I am most proud of is the team we have developed,” DiVona said. The company is comprised of industry legends who, early on, saw the promise in what DiVona was doing.
Proven’s vice president of International Sales, Larry Gershman, is a former president of MGM Television/UA. Jules Haimovitz, who started the Showtime and Lifetime networks, and also ran Viacom and Dick Clark Productions, is the chief advisor, and sits on the board. The lead finance advisor is Gary Wilson, the former CFO of Disney. Also on the board and a valuable advisor to DiVona, is Marty Pompadur, who served as vice president of ABC and chairman of Newscorp. These titans give DiVona’s company a competitive edge when game-changing deals are being struck.
Proven Entertainment is getting a lot of notice in the entertainment industry these days, and plans for expansion are already in the works.
“We are working on acquiring a massive library,” DiVona said proudly. “We have deals with both international streaming services and linear networks.”
It’s hard to know exactly what to do or where to go in these ever-changing times. Even in the entertainment biz, “the landscape changes daily,” he said. But it’s those challenges that keep him strategizing every day. “I love it. It’s like The Wild West! But because of the team we have, we’re able to maintain a steady course and remain a few steps ahead of everyone else.” (Larry Gershman contributed to this article).
Pictured above, DiVona (at left) and Jules Haimovitz