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Judd Apatow’s The Apatow Company, The Gersh Agency and Verve Talent & Literary Agency were among the Hollywood companies that took money from the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program, according to a list made public on Monday by the Small Business Administration.
Gersh received a loan worth between $5 million and $10 million, with Verve took a loan worth between $350,000 and $1 million. Another agency, Agency for the Performing Arts, received a $2 million-$4 million loan, while Brillstein Entertainment Partners took a $1 million-$2 million loan.
Elsewhere, the Entertainment Industry Foundation received a $1 million-$2 million loan, while The British Academy of Film and Television Arts L.A. chapter took a loan worth between $150,000 and $350,000. The International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, which hands out the International Emmy Awards, received a loan worth $150,000-$350,000. The Time’s Up Foundation took a loan worth $350,000-$1 million.
The American Film Institute, the SAG-AFTRA Foundation, the Motion Picture & Television Fund, the Tribeca Film Institute and the Grammy Museum Foundation also received loans.
Production companies, many of which had to put projects on hold during the pandemic, also took the federal money, with The Jim Henson Company receiving a $2 million-$5 million loan and The Apatow Company taking a loan worth $150,000-$350,000 (a source says the Apatow loan was for $160,000, and it was paid back).
Village Roadshow Entertainment, Irwin Winkler’s Winkler Films, BRON Studios, Queer Eye producer Scout Productions, Alex Gibney’s Jigsaw Productions, Glen Keane Productions and Arnon Milchan’s New Regency Productions are among those that benefited from the federal aid. David Glasser and Ron Burkle’s 101 Studios took a loan of $350,000-$1 million, with Greg Silverman’s Stampede and Unhinged distributor Solstice Studios also taking loans.
In the world of e-sports, Faze Clan received a loan worth $1 million-$2 million. Fandango competitor Atom Tickets also took a $1 million-$2 million loan. The TCL Chinese Theatre received a loan for between $350,000 and $1 million, while Sean “Diddy” Combs’ TV channel, Revolt, got between $1 million and $2 million.
The PPP was established in late March as a lifeline to small businesses struggling to stay afloat. The now $669 billion forgivable loan program was intended to help cash-strapped businesses meet payroll.
Before the list was released, Hollywood business manager John McIlwee explained why the decision to take PPP money should not be taken lightly.
“The point of PPP is to keep the employer-employee relationship intact so when the economy does comes back online, companies aren’t scrambling to hire people they let go,” he told THR. “This does apply to Hollywood companies and there are positives and negatives to these programs. If you’re a high net worth A-list star, you have no business taking government money to cover your two assistants’ salary. All the conversations I’ve had with my clients have not been, ‘Could I get funding.’ It’s, ‘Should I get funding.'”
Until now, the Hollywood entities that took PPP money have largely remained a mystery, with a few exceptions. Digital media company Cinedigm received $2.1 million from the program, according to SEC filings. (Cinedigm is a publicly traded company on NASDAQ.)
On April 23, the U.S. Treasury Department updated its guidelines for the PPP initiative and urged companies who have access to alternate funds to reconsider whether they really needed the money. Companies were given until May 14 to return the loan money with no questions asked. The SBA said that all the information in today’s data dump applied to active loans only.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has warned that not only will PPP loans in excess of $2 million be audited, so will any business that borrows money through the program before the loans are forgiven.
McIlwee, who reps a stable of high-profile industryites, advised his clients to consider the ethics of taking government money.
“What if it gets out that a million-dollar earner took federal support. That can backfire big time from a PR perspective and more than offset any sort or government reimbursement,” he continued. “But if you have a small production company or you’re a vendor and you’re not financially secure, if you have the option of applying for PPP to keep your employees on payroll and your business functioning, that’s a fantastic thing, and [is] what the program was designed for. It’s perfectly legal to accept the money. But there is danger for abuse here because even actors, writers and directors with loan-outs and a couple of employees could take advantage.”