By Dade Hayes
Writer, podcaster and former ESPN personality Jemele Hill and Brooklyn Nine-Nineco-creator and prolific producer Mike Schur have joined Meadowlark Media as creative advisers.
Meadowlark is a content venture created in January and led by former ESPN president John Skipper and former TV host and columnist Dan Le Batard.
In their advisory roles, Hill and Schur will help generate ideas for new projects, provide guidance and feedback on in-progress projects, and assist in business development.
Meadowlark’s backers include billionaire Len Blavatnik, whose company owns streaming service DAZN. Skipper was executive chairman of DAZN until reuniting with Le Batard to form Meadowlark. Both worked with Hill at ESPN.
“This is a partnership that made too much sense. Skipper was one of my biggest champions while at ESPN and I have such deep, unconditional respect for Dan and greatly admire his boundless creativity,” Hill said in a press release. “At this stage in my career, I just want to be aligned with creative people who are like-minded. That doesn’t mean we always have to agree, but there is a core belief system that we share. This partnership checks every box for me.”
Through her production company, Lodge Freeway Media, Hill will provide Meadowlark with a first look on all sports-related projects. After her 12-year stint at ESPN ended in 2018, she became a staff writer at The Atlantic and launched a podcast with Spotify. She earned wider attention — and a two-week suspension — during the Donald Trump administration for tweeting about Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’ stance on player protests. She also tweeted that Trump is a white supremacist, eliciting calls for her firing by the Trump White House.
Schur, along with creating and producing series like Parks and Recreation and The Good Place, also co-created animated series Rutherford Falls and Q-Force. He is a longtime sports fan who created the blog Fire Joe Morgan, which had a noted run in the late-2000s and its creators went on to contribute to Deadspin. Using the Twitter handle @kentremendous, he tweets often about sports.
In the press release, Schur described Meadowlark as a “new exciting venture” and noted that he had traveled to Miami three years ago to profile Le Batard for Slate. “At the end of the experience,” he said, he concluded that Le Batard and his collaborators on the daily ESPN talk show Highly Questionable had “built something very special – both with the issues they discuss and the way they discuss them.”
Meadowlark has been staffing up and starting to fill its pipeline with projects. Earlier this month, they announced a new podcast featuring Hank Azaria reprising the role of Jim Brockmire, the fictional title character of his recently concluded IFC comedy.
“We’re quite lucky to have such talented and accomplished people believe in the Meadowlark vision,” Skipper said. “With Jemele and Michael on board, we hope to establish an environment that provides creators with the ideal place to develop, sell and produce their career’s best work.”
Le Batard said he and Skipper have been “awed by the credentials of the people who are eager to create with us. It’s inspiring, and I’m several exit ramps beyond thrilled that these industry leaders want to be on our team. Jemele is a pioneer in our industry who has trailblazed and been an inspiration, and Michael’s smart comedy stretches across comedy from writing for Saturday Night Live and The Office to creating Parks and Recreation and The Good Place.”