|Occupation(s)||television executive, music executive, general manager, television personality|
George Levendis (Greek: Γιώργος Λεβέντης), is a television and record executive and the current Head of International for Syco TV, a joint venture between Simon Cowell and Sony Music Entertainment. Most recently he was general manager of the Greek television network ANT1 the number two station in the Greek market and the largest Greek satellite station worldwide. Over the last 20 years, he has held marketing and management positions at a number of record companies, including Arista Records, Arista Records U.K., BMG Greece, BMG Australia, Heaven Music, and culminating as Senior Vice President of Sony BMG Global Marketing at the headquarters of Sony BMG in New York City. In this position, he oversaw worldwide campaigns for artists including Beyoncé, Justin Timberlake, Pink, Shakira, Foo Fighters, Kings of Leon, Leona Lewis, Il Divo and Westlife. Under his control, Heaven Music was built into one of Greece's largest and successful independent music companies. In February 2011, he was the winning judge after three consecutive seasons on the Greek version of the singing competition The X Factor.
George Levendis was born in South Africa to Greek parents. From young age, he started working in his family's businesses, that included parent's jewelry business. He later worked as a DJ. Levendis soon moved with his family to Sydney, Australia where he attended Sydney Boys High School. He pursued a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology at the University of New South Wales and in 1992 graduated with a Master of Commerce in Marketing. He continued his further education graduating with a Master of Arts in Media Management from Macquarie University Graduate School of Management in 1994.
Levendis started out at BMG Australia in 1989 as a third-party label manager. In 1991, he began serving as an international label manager, eventually also serving as the Manager of International Product Development and the National Marketing Manager of BMG Australia, while in 1994 Levendis was promoted to General Manager of Marketing. In 1995, Levendis left BMG Australia for Arista Records U.K., where he served as Marketing Director. In 1997, he took over as General Manager at BMG Greece. Later in 1999, he moved to Arista Records in New York where he served as Vice President of International Worldwide Marketing, while he was eventually promoted to Senior Vice President of Marketing in 2001. While at Arista, Levendis helped capitalize on artists' global presence, as well as convincing international labels to release albums from Arista artists. He also oversaw the international marketing campaigns for Carlos Santana's Supernatural, Whitney Houston's My Love is Your Love and Whitney: The Greatest Hits, TLC's FanMail, and Pink's Can't Take Me Home among others.
In 2002, Levendis was hired as Managing Director/CEO with the launching of the Greek independent label Heaven Music, owned by ANT1 Group, which he helped build into one of Greece's most successful independent music companies, while he also served as a judge on ANT1's singing competition show Fame Story. He remained with Heaven Music and Fame Story until 2005, when he was hired by Sony BMG's global headquarters in New York to serve as Senior Vice President of Sony BMG Global Marketing Group.
In 2008, Levendis was named General Manager of ANT1, and the same year he began to serve as a judge on Greece's The X Factor. Since taking over, Levendis has repositioned Antenna as the most contemporary station in the Greek market. The rebranding strategy which included new logo, complete station makeover and a new internet strategy has placed Antenna to a new era. High rating shows include 'Greece Has Got Talent', 'Next Top Model'. 'Dancing with Stars','The X Factor', 'Radio Arvyla', 'Wipeout', 'The Next Uri Geller', 'Greys Anatomy', 'Ola', 'Axizis na to deis', and the morning show '10 to 1'. Antenna has once again entered the sports domain broadcasting Formula One, Greek A1 Basketball League, for the 2009 season and the UEFA EUROPA league for three consecutive years.
On The X Factor, Levendis has been characterized as the "good judge", while he has had confrontations with fellow judge Giorgos Theofanous on various issues. In November 2009, relations between the two escalated when Theofanous mocked Levendis' Greek language skills, stating that Levendis should have fellow judge Katerina Gagaki translate and write out his thoughts for him to read instead. Theofanous also criticized Levendis' tendency to vote for acts that sing predominantly international songs instead of Greek, claiming that there is currently a crisis in the Greek music industry and that he is not helping with his actions. In January 2010, Levendis' Greek language skills were put into question again when popular ANT1 talk show Radio Arvyla created a parody of Levendis using an actual soundbite of him that demonstrated his lack of fluency in Greek. The parody became a viral hit in Greece and prompted the formation of a Facebook group, while Levendis later acknowledged it was funny and was bound to catch on.
Levendis met his wife Maria Mentis, a Greek-Australian, while living in Australia. They have 3 children together, boy, girl twins born in Manhattan NYC (Anastasia and Nick) and a son born in Athens (Aristole), Greece. Levendis' wife is on the Board of Directors of the Make a Wish Foundation in Greece and plays an integral part in the marketing and public relations of the charity. Make A Wish is currently the selected charity for Greece's high rating show 'Dancing with the Stars'.
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