Jonathan Koch is an Emmy Award-winning television producer, accomplished entrepreneur, and renowned team leader. Jonathan is President and Chief Creative Officer at Asylum Entertainment, a Los Angeles based television production company that he built from the ground up along with his partner, Steve Michaels. His notable productions include the Emmy Award-winning mini-series The Kennedys, 30 for 30, The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe, and the acclaimed documentary feature film Happy Valley among hundreds of other scripted, documentary, and reality projects.
After graduating from Shippensburg University in his home state of Pennsylvania, Jonathan left for Los Angeles armed with $200 and an impeccable work ethic. After a couple of years of epic failure as an aspiring actor, Jonathan began his entertainment career in earnest, as a talent agent with The Barbara Cameron Agency, which quickly became a dominate player in the representation of young celebrities. After a couple of successful years at that post, Jonathan founded his own entertainment marketing company, Gravy Train Productions, which helped to create the celebrity branding industry by aligning star clients with companies, initiatives, and products. During that period, he was brought in as a partner to launch CelebritySightings.com, a proprietary intellectual property celebrity website which enjoyed a multi-million dollar sale to Alloy Online in 1999.
In 2003, after a brief stint in the creative trenches with Merv Griffin Entertainment, Jonathan was introduced to his business partner, Steve Michaels. The two have been at the helm of Asylum Entertainment for the past 15 years. Asylum Entertainment’s most notable productions include the epic 8-part mini-series The Kennedys for which they received 10 Emmy® nominations and won four. Additionally, Asylum’s scripted division was nominated for four Emmy Awards on the television film, Ring of Fire starring singer/songwriter Jewel. For more than a decade, Asylum’s lifeblood has been unscripted television. Their notable unscripted projects include the 10-time Emmy nominated Beyond The Glory, ESPN’s 30 for 30, The Locator, Addicted, American Gangster, Beverly Hills Pawn, Flip or Flop-Nashville and many many more. Asylum’s groundbreaking feature documentary Happy Valley, which focuses on the gripping scandal that has rocked Penn State University, was recently featured at the famed Sundance Film Festival.
In 2014, Asylum Entertainment was purchased by Legendary Entertainment for more than 100 million dollars. Legendary Entertainment has produced some of the most powerful and successful films of our times including Godzilla, 300, Pacific Rim, The Hangover, Batman Returns, and many more.
In January of 2015, everything changed forever.
While at a television producers conference in Washington DC, Jonathan became desperately ill. So ill, that in order to save his life, the doctors had to place him into a coma. A few harrowing weeks later, he woke up with both his mind and spirit intact Jonathan learned that he had survived septic shock, but that his body was severely compromised. Jonathan resolved not just to survive, but to thrive—for himself, for his teenaged daughter, and for his fiancée, whom he married right before he had the surgery that took all or part of all four limbs, including his right leg and left hand.
He spent the next 18 months rebuilding with several painful surgeries, multiple prosthetic fittings, and endless rehabilitation appointments. But day after day, he exceeded his doctors’ expectations. One doctor in particular, a pioneering surgeon, recognized that Jonathan carried the mental and physical strength to successfully receive a human hand transplant. One year later, Jonathan Koch made medical history when he received a revolutionary, first of it’s kind, experimental hand transplant. Usually, it takes several years to learn how to use a new hand. Not with Jonathan. Four months later, he was back on the tennis court.
These days, Jonathan is busy overseeing a slate of new series and films for Asylum and sharing the message of his story all over the world. Jonathan lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Jennifer and their two puppies Leyla and Luna. Jonathan’s daughter is in college, playing Division I water polo. He finds purpose in coaching, leading and encouraging others to stand up and fight, meeting life’s challenges head on, and digging deep within to find their own Heart of a Champion.
- Resilience and the Business of Leadership
- Resilience: Facing a Health Crisis Head On
What factors can predict survival in times of great adversity? Surely, the most important is resilience. In this presentation, a Hollywood mogul shares his story of resilience in surviving an acute, life-threatening medical crisis and his arduous road to recovery in physical rehabilitation and therapy. Jonathan Koch will focus on the patient’s journey, highlighting how a resilient team of dedicated, skilled health care professionals can work with their patient as partners to triumph over a challenging rare illness. In this lecture, he will describe the physical and emotional trauma he endured, and share his experiences working with his health care team to restore his independence and mobility so he could return to his career, dance with his daughter, and even play tennis. This heartbreaking and heart-warming talk will illuminate the patient’s perspective on care, the pain and grief associated with illness, and the power of resilience to fuel recovery and restored independence. Mr. Koch’s inspiring story will also spotlight how health care providers can emphasize resilience in the care setting, not just for their patients struggling to overcome illness, but for themselves.
- Unlocking Your Heart of a Champion
Jonathan Koch went from a minimum wage restaurant mascot to a multi-millionaire Hollywood television producer in a matter of years. He went from healthy, vibrant, and a picture of fitness to imminent death in just moments. Just months after selling his Emmy Award winning production company for more than a hundred million dollars, Jonathan Koch found himself in a harrowing battle against a sudden and deadly illness that that threatened his life and left him with amputations of all or part of each of his limbs. When his ICU Doctor said to him “You’re probably going to do die tonight” Jonathan Koch, father of a 15 year-old daughter, decided to fight back. In this passionate, honest talk, Mr. Koch shares the pain, laughter, love, loss, and the rare type of resilience that inspires audiences from of all ages and stations. Jonathan reveals the secrets behind how he physically and psychologically prepared himself since the age of eleven for a vicious fight he never saw coming. This open and honest presentation details how being ready for absolutely anything made possible his unlikely career and, undeniably, saved his life. Mr. Koch talks about turning pain into purpose, and how to rise-up against the most threatening challenges by unlocking the Heart of a Champion within each and everyone of us. Mr. Koch’s story was recently featured in a highly rated episode of ABC’s 20/20.
-Michael W. Moyer, Executive Director, National Wrestling Coaches Association
Because once in a great while, we are fortunate to meet and learn from someone like Jonathan Koch. Someone who has more than succeeded, more than suffered, more than shared and more than survived. He has lived the lesson, fought the fight and come out the other side, better, bigger, more. And this is what every person in any room for any purpose is hoping they will be witness to and be inspired by.
-Dr. Ronda Beaman, CCO, Peak Learning, Inc., Clinical Professor, Orfalea College of Business California Polytechnic-SLO
Knowing the story he had to share, I instantly recommended Jonathan to be one of speakers that come in every other month and address the senior executives at the FOX Broadcasting Company. He was quickly approved. All I know is that Jonathan Koch walks amongst us today to help inspire. To help motivate. To help us all laugh more, care more and appreciate more. You'll never regret a second spent with him.
-Alexander Piper, VP of Alternative Entertainment, FOX Broadcasting Company
Jonathan served as our opening lecturer for the 2018 ACR/ARHP Annual Meeting that reaches over 15,000 attendees globally. Jonathan was everything we asked for and more. By far one of the most dynamic, inspirational, and engaging speakers I’ve come across in a long time. His message on resilience truly resonated with our audience of rheumatology professionals and is a topic that everyone needs to hear. Jonathan is an exceptional speaker, I highly recommend him for any conference or event. I cannot thank him enough for sharing his personal journey with our attendees.
-Sara Keene, Education Director, American College of Rheumatology