Ira Bernstein is co-president of Debmar-Mercury, an innovative leading media company specializing in syndication, network, cable and ancillary markets.
The brand-name syndicator produces and distributes The Wendy Williams Show and – together with Citylife Productions – Caught in Providence, returning for its second season in September 2019; has U.S. distribution rights to FremantleMedia North America’s Steve Harvey-hosted Family Feud; Comedy Central’s off-Netflix episodes of BoJack Horseman from Michael Eisner’s privately held media and entertainment company, The Tornante Company; as well as U.S. distribution rights to Schitt’s Creek, the critically acclaimed, Emmy Award-nominated half-hour, single-camera scripted comedy created by Eugene Levy and Daniel Levy, ranking as the No. 1 original series on Pop TV; the 10/90 sitcoms Debmar-Mercury pioneered including Tyler Perry’s House of Payne and spinoff Meet the Browns; Revolution/CubeVision’s Are We There Yet? (starring Ice Cube); and the Debmar-Mercury / Lionsgate Television comedy Anger Management (starring Charlie Sheen). Debmar-Mercury is a wholly owned subsidiary of Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF.A, LGF.B), a premier next generation global content leader.
A 2018 Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame honoree, Bernstein served as president of worldwide television distribution for Lionsgate Entertainment from 2001-03 after operating his own domestic distribution banner, Mercury, since 1999. There, he launched a number of first-run action hours in domestic syndication, including Relic Hunter, starring Tia Carrere.
Prior to the launch of Mercury, Bernstein served as president of domestic television distribution for Rysher Entertainment, Cox Enterprise’s production and distribution studio division. Beginning in June 1993 as executive VP, Bernstein became involved in all areas of the company’s marketing and programming activities, including domestic syndication, international distribution, cable, home video and advertising sales. In December 1994, following his promotion to president, he oversaw the development, sales and marketing of programming to the domestic television marketplace. During his six-year tenure there, Rysher successfully launched seven action hours and three daily strips.
From 1990-93, Bernstein served as VP of advertiser-supported and cable programming at Reeves Entertainment. At Reeves, Bernstein was involved in a variety of international and cable co-productions. He also packaged the special We’re Expecting for ABC, bringing Procter & Gamble and Prudential Insurance on board to sponsor the acclaimed program.
During a span stretching from 1984-90 at LBS Communications, Bernstein oversaw in excess of $100 million in annual billings as director of advertising sales and, as executive VP, was involved in bringing such hit programming as Fame, 21 Jump Street and Family Feud into the syndication marketplace.
Bernstein worked in the television department of ad agencies Ogilvy & Mather, McCann Erikson and Kenyon and Eckhardt from 1981-84. In his final year Kenyon and Eckhardt, he packaged The Last Days of Patton, starring George C. Scott, for CBS. The movie was financed and sponsored by Chrysler.