Backbeat: The Merge Summit 2011
Backbeat: The Merge Summit 2011

The third annual Merge Summit, focusing on the integration of faith and entertainment, took place over the weekend (Aug. 18-20) in Los Angeles at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel. Merge founder/chair Holly Carter, who is president/CEO of Relevé Entertainment and summit co-chair Robi Reed, VP of casting & talent at BET Networks, assembled a series of panels, master classes and networking forums that kicked off with an opening night VIP reception hosted by "The Game" star Wendy Raquel Robinson and "The Insider" co-anchor Kevin Frazier and closed with a concert hosted by Kirk Franklin and featuring Deitrick Haddon among other acts. Panelists from the music sector included EMI Music Publishing president/West Coast creative Jon Platt, Music World Gospel head/senior VP Nichelle Poindexter, Universal Music Christian Group VP Rhoda Lawrence, Killer Tracks film/TV music licensing executive Marilyn Batchelor and EMI Gospel VP/GM Larry Blackwell. Rob Light, managing partner/head of music at Creative Artists Agency (CAA), helmed one of the summit's master classes.

The Merge Summit 2011
Kelly Griffin (far left), BET Networks' senior director of music programming, was among the guests who attended the Merge Summit's opening night VIP reception. He's caught here in mid-conversation with Variety music editor Andrew Barker and publicist Alonda Thomas of The FrontPage Firm.

The Merge Summit 2011
Among Saturday's panel offerings was "Dealmaking: the Business of Creativity." Moderator J. Christopher Hamilton, president of entertainment firm Coup D'Etat, took audience members through a broad tutorial of the creative process -- from cultivating the pitch to closing the deal-- with panelists Curtis Wallace, COO of Bishop TD Jakes' TDJ Enterprises ("Jumping the Broom"), and Inga Dyer, senior counsel for BET Networks. During the session, Wallace noted that TDJ Enterprises' next film project will be a remake of the 1976 film "Sparkle," which starred Philip Michael Thomas and Irene Cara. Pictured post-panel (l-r) are Wallace, Dyer and Hamilton.