Barry Zelickson Returns to the Industry…On YouTube
Industry veteran Barry Zelickson, who sold his Big Thrill Factory in 2021, is back with a new venture – Next Exit Entertainment, which recently launched Fun Across America, a YouTube channel featuring must-see spots for fun, attractions and food.
“I love this industry, but I found myself not actively in it anymore,” Zelickson said. Still asked to speak at industry events, he was inspired to get back into it via his production background and love of shows like Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.
“There are just as many entertainment centers across the country,” he said. “I thought there were a lot of places we could go with it.”
Zelickson had also been watching a lot of YouTube videos, especially in the thick of the pandemic, so the ideas linked together, and he reached out to a screenwriter friend who thought it would be great for TV (pitches are currently in the works).
The YouTube channel, meanwhile, launched in October and new videos are posted every two weeks. The first video, which featured Pat Ciniello’s HeadPinz, showcases that unique company’s vintage-style bowling mixed with their very modern robot facility attendants.
“We thought it gave a good introduction to the type of show we’d be putting out,” Zelickson explained. “I’ve known Pat for a while. We picked HeadPinz to be the first episode specifically because of their old bowling and robots.”
Over the course of summer 2022, Zelickson and his team, which includes host Nate Reinhart, filmed at more than 20 different venues in five states. Among them were Andretti’s Indoor Karting and Games, Can Can Wonderland, Dezerland, Extreme Sandbox, Fun Spot, GameTime, Give Kids The World Village/IAAPA HQ and WhirlyBall.
“There’s been a lot of positive feedback,” he said. Their initial intent is to find some sponsors for the videos. Hownd will also act as a distribution channel for Fun Across America.
For his part, Zelickson is also a long-timer in the production space. “I did a lot of that a long time ago,” he said, having worked with River Road Productions and working a stint in infomercials. “I’m utilizing Nate and his team on the social media side. We’ve got a plan on how to build this up.”
Zelickson hopes the well-produced videos shine a light on the industry and spotlight companies that are bringing, well, fun across America.
“It’s just fun to go to these places,” he said. “How could you not like an industry based on fun?”
The variety of locations also included the latest Scene75 location in the Chicago area. “We wanted to get a place that was being built, then go back when it was open,” Zelickson noted.
“I’m very happy with the progress we’ve made since we started,” he added.
Check out the 5-7-minute videos on YouTube. Simply search “Fun Across America,” and you’ll get to where you need to go.