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John Stephen Stohn (born May 8, 1948) is a Canadian-based, American-born entertainment lawyer and television producer. He is currently the president of Epitome Pictures Inc., which he and his wife Linda Schuyler founded and which was sold to DHX Media in 2014. He is best known for being executive producer of the teen drama series Degrassi.
For nearly 20 years, until 2009, he was executive producer of the telecast of Canada's music awards show, The Juno Awards, and during that period was a director and then Chair of Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, the organization responsible for The Juno Awards. He was also Chair of MusiCounts, a charity associated with The Juno Awards, which among other things distributes musical instruments to schools in need.
From 2004 to 2008 Stohn executive produced the teen drama television series Instant Star about a young woman (played by Alexz Johnson) who wins a singer/songwriter contest. In 2011 and 2012 he executive produced the television series The L.A. Complex (formerly called Highland Gardens) for Bell Media in Canada and The CW in the U.S., about young Canadians dreaming of fame and fortune while struggling to survive in an apartment-style hotel in Los Angeles.
Stohn's work in the entertainment industry commenced with part-time appearances as a performing artist, continuing with active work as a songwriter (including two songs that reached the Canadian Top-10, Maybe Your Heart and Once In A Long Time, co-written with Christopher Ward), and a primary career as an entertainment and copyright lawyer since he was called to the Ontario Bar in 1979.
Trent University (in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada) had barely been built when Stohn first attended there. He helped found Trent's student newspaper, and gave it the unusual name Arthur, which it is still called to this day. The name arose from the Beatles' film A Hard Day's Night when George Harrison is asked what his hairstyle is called, George replied simply "Arthur". When a friend asked what the student paper would be called, Stohn quipped "Arthur" and the name has carried on to this day.
Stohn helped found the radio station at Trent, now CFFF-FM, along with Peter Northrop and Christopher Ward. In the early 1990s, he helped found the Songwriters Association of Canada along with Donna Murphy, Terry McManus and internationally acclaimed songwriter Eddie Schwartz. Stohn has executive-produced two feature films, Me? and The Clown Murders. He was also executive producer of Riverdale, English Canada's first prime-time soap opera, and of the lifestyle TV series Savoir Faire (hosted by Nik Manojlovich) and Room Service (hosted by Sarah Richardson).
In early 2000, Linda Schuyler and Yan Moore were developing a new teen TV series with the working title Ready, Willing and Wired. One day Yan came up with the brainstorm that baby Emma, who was born to the then 8th-grade student Spike Nelson in Degrassi Junior High, would be the right age now to be attending high school, and why not make her a main character in Ready, Willing and Wired thus turning the new series into a sequel to the original Degrassi. Inspired by his love for the original Star Trek sci-fi TV series, which had spun into Star Trek: The Next Generation, Stohn suggested Degrassi: The Next Generation as the title for the new sequel series. By autumn 2001 the title remained, and Degrassi: The Next Generation made its first appearance on air.
Stohn co-wrote the opening theme music for Degrassi: The Next Generation with Jim McGrath and Jody Colero. He is also the executive producer of Alexz Johnson's debut solo album Voodoo, and the executive producer of such soundtrack albums as Songs from Degrassi: The Next Generation, Songs from Instant Star, Songs from Instant Star Two, Songs from Instant Star Three and Songs from Instant Star Four. In the early stages of development of Instant Star, the first audition tape Stohn received was of Alexz Johnson—he was convinced she was perfect for the lead role and no auditions or searches were necessary. But the company went forward auditioning hundreds of other potential actors and singers over a three-month period, only to return in the end to the first audition tape they had received: that of Alexz Johnson.
- Stohn has been nominated 24 times in Canada's national television awards ceremony, the Canadian Screen Awards (formerly the Gemini Awards), and has won 11 times. In 2011 he was nominated for a primetime Emmy Award and won a Peabody Award. He was nominated two more times for a primetime Emmy Award, in 2012 and 2014.
- In August 2005, Stohn received a commendation from the Government of Ontario reading in part: "You are no stranger to Canadian show business, having worked, and excelled, in nearly all facets of the industry. You seem to have worn every possible hat—from performing artist to accomplished entertainment lawyer—and, in doing so, have amassed an incomparable wealth of knowledge and experience. Your skills and expertise have stood you in good stead, propelling you from success to success. Whether producing the internationally acclaimed television series Degrassi: The Next Generation or playing a key role in the development of Epitome Pictures, you take on challenges in a manner appropriately echoed by the words of the legendary Samuel Goldwyn: All opportunities in the world are waiting to grasped by people who are in love with what they are doing.''
- On March 10, 2011 he was inducted into the Canadian Music & Broadcast Industry Hall of Fame.
- On June 4, 2015 Trent University awarded him an honorary doctorate, Doctor of Letters (D.Litt honoris causa).
Stohn is currently the Chairman of The Orange Lounge / inDiscover Recordings, and a Director of ISAN Canada, the Canadian Retransmission Collective, and Producers Audiovisual Collective of Canada. And for nine years he was a Director and Chair of the Strategic Planning Committee of Ontario Media Development Corporation as it moved from a strictly film-based mandate, to now assisting six different silos of the entertainment industry including music and digital.
He has appeared on several occasions as an expert witness before the Copyright Board of Canada, and is a member and Past Chair of the Copyright and International Policy Committee of the Canadian Film and Television Production Association.
Stohn's industry experience includes being a partner for 10 years in Canada's largest law firm, McCarthy Tétrault. He graduated from the University of Toronto Faculty of Law (J.D. 1977) and Trent University (B.A. 1969). He is a founding partner in the Canadian entertainment law firm Stohn Hay Cafazzo Dembroski Richmond LLP, where he provides strategic legal advice to performers, advertising agencies, merchandisers, recording artists, songwriters, multimedia/internet creators, broadcasters and film and television producers. He and two other partners in the firm constitute three of the fourteen entertainment lawyers named in the 2014 Lexpert American Lawyer Guide to the Leading 500 Lawyers in Canada.
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