Our House taps former Top Chef showrunner to lead development in L.A.

Toronto’s Our House Media (OHM) is continuing to expand its U.S. operations with the hire of Hillary Olsen as VP, development at its L.A. office.

In the newly created position, Olsen will oversee OHM’s U.S. development team and report to OHM USA president, Matt Hanna, who was tapped to lead the newly launched office in January.

Olsen is the former director of current production for NBCUniversal-backed Esquire Network, where she also worked with Hanna. In addition, she was also the showrunner and executive producer on a number of series from Bravo’s Top Chef franchise, including Top Chef, Top Chef Masters, Top Chef Duels and Top Chef: Last Chance Kitchen.

Hanna told Playback Daily that, while Olsen’s overall role is to spearhead the entire in-development slate, she will specifically be tasked with finding TV-ready personalities and talent that OHM can build formats and ideas around, before taking projects out to networks.

“It feels like right now the most important thing is to walk in the door [of networks] with strong television characters, and obviously those are always challenging to find,” he said, adding that Olsen’s showrunner experience on successful formats like Top Chef is a significant asset when it comes to developing and pitching IP to buyers.

“What I’m seeing across the board is that you’re able to revisit older ideas that have either been in the zeitgeist or that people have tried before – and then they get unlocked again because they find a great cast. I’m thinking specifically about the way Queer Eye was reinvented at Netflix,” Hanna said.

After opening a development office in New York in 2016, OHM has this year been expanding its footprint on the west coast with the launch of its L.A. office. The new location was established as OHM looks to secure a permanent presence in California, where L.A.-based digital players such as Netflix, Facebook and Amazon have all been ramping up investment in their unscripted slates.

Recent projects produced by OHM include social-experiment series Welcome to America (6 x 60 minutes) for Bravo (U.S.), Broke & Famous and Famous Feuds (both 10 x 60 minutes) for Reelz channel and the fourth season of Paranormal Survivor for T + E (Canada) and Destination America (U.S.). Based in Toronto, OHM is headed up by CEO Simon Lloyd and president Joe Houlihan.