Photo courtesy of J. B. Miller. Photo by William Jess Laird
The President and CEO of Empire Entertainment, J. B. Miller, started his career in Mamaroneck High School back in the ’70s.
J. B. Miller reminisces on the days when he would ride his bicycle under the balmy Larchmont sun. This was back in the late ’70s, when cable television was first being installed into Westchester homes. Miller, who’s now 58, bikes those same roads to the Metro-North Station where he heads down to his office in SoHo.
Miller is the CEO and President of Empire Entertainment, an Emmy-Award winning producer, and a father of two. With over four decades of experience as an executive producer under his belt, Miller boasts an extensive CV brimming with notable names and companies.
Empire Entertainment is a large event production and creative agency that produces all kinds of large-scale events and creative projects throughout the world. Miller is a hands-on producer, meaning that he’s actively involved in producing a range of meetings, events, conferences, concerts, festivals, galas, and videos.
If you were to name an Empire Entertainment project, it’s highly probable that Miller has had a weighty contribution. He’s produced major components of the Tribeca Film Festival, The New York Times Food Festival, and the New York Film Festival. The Larchmont native owes his start in the film industry to Mamaroneck High School.
Back in the late 1970s and early ’80s, J. B. Miller and his brother, now director, Bennett Miller, and other film-focused friends were first getting their hands on equipment.
In response to cable television creeping its way into Westchester homes, Miller recalls that part of the deal to become “the” cable network within Westchester County was to make an investment in the community. One of the ways this played out was the creation of a television studio at Mamaroneck High School.
This studio gave the students access to equipment and materials they needed to produce, direct, and execute videos which were then broadcasted to the entire Larchmont and Mamaroneck community.
“I walked in as a high schooler and was like ‘this is sick.’ I was making TV, I was passionate about it, and I knew what I wanted to do with my life,” exclaims Miller. At a youthful 15 years old, Miller was enthralled by film and television. He attributes the spark of passion and prosperous career to the high school program, which granted him ample time to hone his craft and navigate his way through various positions and experiences.
“I found my passion early on. I don’t know what I would be doing with my life if I didn’t discover that I was good at and liked producing and directing and managing creative projects. For me, having that defined early on in life was probably one of the biggest advantages any person can have,” exclaims Miller.
He then went on to study and live in New York, Boston, London, and Paris. During those years, he landed an internship on The David Letterman Show, earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Television and Film from New York University’s Tisch School for the Arts, and completed a Masters degree in Business Administration in International Marketing & Negotiation from NYU’s Stern School of Business.
When discussing how the industry has shifted over the past few decades, in the eyes of Miller, he notes how the change of media consumption and what consumers desire has come full circle.
“There’s been this sea change where what was counter culture has become the culture, what was once alternative or queer or underground, that’s now what every brand in the world wants, what every festival wants, what’s popular,” explains Miller.
Miller founded Empire Entertainment in 1993. And since its introduction to the industry, the company has produced major events including Time Magazine‘s TIME 100 Gala, The TriBeCa Film Festival, The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue Celebration, The Webby Awards, and many others.
The company has worked with names such as Google, Time, Microsoft, and SONY, and presented musicians like Aerosmith, Elton John, Jay-Z, Rihanna, and Janet Jackson, among others. Along with these notable names, Miller continues to work with a local nonprofit, LMC Media. The community-based media platform, Larchmont-Mamaroneck Community Television, was founded in 1983 and provides the community with opportunities to learn how to create media, regardless of age, gender, financial status, etc.
“Karma is a real thing. The opportunities that you give people, the time that you share, the openness and willingness to hear what they have to say, it really does come back to you in large and small ways,” notes Miller.
After decades of establishing his career, Miller, alongside his wife and two kids, decided it was time to head back north. Everything in Larchmont seemed to fit the bill, eventually leading Miller to purchasing a Queen Anne Victorian historic home built in 1888.
The six-bed, six-bath home was fully renovated in 2007 and boasts a contemporary layout with original details and delicate modern touches. The home also sports a stunning front porch and is blocks away from the Long Island Sound.
“We started looking for a place with a little bit of grass and happiness that was still proximate to the city,” says Miller, adding “I never forgot what a beautiful place Larchmont and Mamaroneck was to grow up in.”
On top of that, it was also the community that introduced him to his love for film, where film was not only part of his upbringing, but integrated within the history of the village. (His work over the past decades has only furthered that statement.)
Larchmont Manor is a place where neighbors sit on front porches with a glass of wine gabbing about their kids and weekend plans. That vision is one Miller craved after decades of living in the concrete jungle.
His three-story home was designed by Edward A. Sargent. While Fredrick Law Olmsted, the designer of Central Park, surveyed and designed parts of Larchmont Manor. The Manor is similar to Central Park as it is exquisitely designed with nature, and the layout is so curated that it seems natural.
“There’s a quote from a movie I executively produced years ago called The Cruise, about a New York City double-decker tour bus guide, that I won an Emmy for, directed by brother Bennett. [The guide is] talking about Central Park and he says ‘There’s nothing natural about Central Park. Central Park was engineered artificially.’ That world-class designer basically did that here in Larchmont,” shares Miller.
Now, the Emmy Award-winning producer and family man gets to enjoy the best of both worlds. With workdays in SoHo and weekends soaking in the Westchester sun, Miller beams as he concludes, “I could not be happier to be back.”