a ChTwo-time Emmy nominated producer Sam Haskell, III was named in 2007 by Television Week Magazine “One of the 25 Most Innovative and Influential People in Television of the Last 25 Years,” an honor he shared with Ted Turner, Barbara Walters, Oprah Winfrey, Walter Cronkite and other television legends. Haskell earned his ranking among the industry’s best through his 27-year career at the renowned William Morris Agency where he was one of the most powerful agents and dealmakers in the business.
Originally from Amory, Mississippi (population 7000) and a 1977 graduate of the University of
Mississippi, Haskell’s career began in the Fall of 1978 when he moved to Los Angeles and fought his
way into the renowned William Morris Agency mailroom, about which David Rensin wrote extensively in his 2003 bestseller "The Mailroom: Hollywood History from the Bottom Up." By May 1980, Haskell was promoted to agent in the TV Variety Department where he packaged specials starring Lily Tomlin, Lynda Carter, Debbie Allen, David Frost and Diana Ross. In 1990, he became the Agency’s youngest Senior Vice-President, and in 1994, was elevated to the position of West Coast Head of Television. In 1997 he was named Executive Vice President and a member of the WMA Board of Directors, and, in 1999, he was appointed to the esteemed position of Worldwide Head of Television. Haskell oversaw the "packaging" of all agency-represented network projects, including such mega-hits as " Fresh Prince of Bel Air," "Mad About You," "Everybody Loves Raymond," "Lost," "Murphy Brown," "Sisters," "Suddenly Susan," "Live with Regis & Kathie Lee," "Diagnosis Murder," "King of Queens," "Las Vegas" and "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," among many others.
Prior to Haskell's retirement from WMA in 2005, his clients included: Kathie Lee Gifford, Ray Romano, Whoopi Goldberg, Debbie Allen, Delta Burke, Dolly Parton, George Clooney, Sela Ward, Marilu Henner, Martin Short, Kirstie Alley, Tony Danza, Sean Hayes, Michael Feinstein, Emily Procter, Lily Tomlin, Marilyn McCoo, Joan Van Ark, Malcolm Jamal Warner, Swoosie Kurtz, Lucie Arnaz and His Royal Highness The Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex.
Widely known as “the nice guy in Hollywood,” Haskell is revered for rising to the top of a turbulent and often conscienceless business with his character, integrity and value-system intact. His reputation for honesty, integrity, loyalty and fairness made him a consistent force in a sea of inconsistency and someone with whom actors, writers, directors and other industry professionals were eager to work. He is equally well-known for his far-reaching philanthropic endeavors, notably serving as executive producer of "Mississippi Rising," a three-hour, MSNBC special hosted by Morgan Freeman which raised over $30 million for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. As Chairman of the Mary Kirkpatrick Haskell Scholarship Foundation founded in his mother's memory, Mr. Haskell's biennial "Stars Over Mississippi" benefit concerts in Amory have raised millions of dollars in college scholarship funds for Mississippi youngsters in need of financial assistance to further their education.
Since 2013, Sam has run Magnolia Hill Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television in Los Angeles, CA. With his partner Dolly Parton, they produced two television movies for NBC. The first, "Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors", eclipsed over 16 million live viewers making it the most viewed original television movie among the Big Four Networks in six years. Moreover it has received overwhelming critical acclaim and has gone on to win the Movie Guide Templeton Foundation Epiphany Prize, The Christopher Award, and the Academy of Country Music Tex Ritter Award. The second film, "Dolly Parton’s Christmas Of Many Colors - Circle of Love", was the highly anticipated sequel to the blockbuster "Coat Of Many Colors", which aired on November 30th, 2016 on NBC, again ranking #1 in all key demos and delivering 14.5 million live viewers. It has also won the Movie Guide Epiphany prize, the Christopher Award, the Family Film Award, and was nominated for best Television Movie at the 2017 Primetime Emmy Awards.
More recently, Sam has produced multiple projects for Netflix including “Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings,” an anthology series of eight movies based on the songs and life stories of his dear friend Dolly Parton. Each movie features an all-star cast of award-winning actors including Kathleen Turner, Ginnifer Goodwin, Delta Burke, Gerald McRaney, Bellamy Young, Patricia Wettig, Timothy Busfield, Mac Davis, Tim Reid, and Camryn Manheim! The “Heartstrings” episode, “These Old Bones,” won the Movieguide Faith & Freedom Award for TV, a Christopher Award, and is nominated for Best Television Movie at the 2020 Primetime Emmy Awards. Moreover, the “Heartstrings” episode, “Two Doors Down,” won Best Individual Episode at the 2020 GLAAD Awards. “Heartstrings” was also honored by the 2020 PaleyFest as one of the best television series of 2019. Most currently, Sam finished “Christmas On The Square,” an original Netflix musical starring Dolly Parton and Christine Baranski and directed by Debbie Allen, with all new music and lyrics by Dolly! The project will air this holiday season.
Sam is married to his college sweetheart Mary Donnelly Haskell, a former Miss Mississippi. They have two children, Sam IV, and Mary Lane. Sam and Mary have three grandchildren, Samuel Bond Haskell V, James Donnelly Haskell, and William Kirkpatrick Haskell, II.
After 5+ years working in finance, Billy left Wall Street to pursue a career he found far more inspiring in film and television. Growing up he always loved the classics (Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon, anything Hitchcock) and later even tried his hand at Vice style documentaries in far off corners of the world. Billy serves as Magnolia Hill’s vice president of development, focused on the company’s development slate and producing for Magnolia Hill's shows. He holds a BS in Economics and Economic History from the London School of Economics.
Bobby Kelly proudly serves as director of development at Magnolia Hill Productions. Originally hailing from Madison, MS, Kelly is a 2015 Cum Laude graduate of the University of Mississippi, where he was a scholar for The Ole Miss Women's Council for Philanthropy and The Sally McDonald Barksdale Honors College. Bobby has always had a passion and a love for entertainment and the arts and started his professional career as an actor in New Orleans. When Haskell alerted Kelly of the opportunity to join his team, Kelly packed up his belongings and moved to Los Angeles, where he has lived for the past three years.