Anonymous Content Being Courted by Endemol and Paramount
At this year's Academy Awards, the management/production company had two films competing for best picture: 'The Revenant' and 'Spotlight,' the latter taking home the night's top prize.
In a move that would greatly expand its footprint in the representation business, Endemol Shine is looking to buy a minority stake in management/production company Anonymous Content, sources say.
Anonymous founder Steve Golin would run a combined film and scripted TV production/management division within the global reality TV powerhouse. There is one hurdle to be cleared before the two camps could reach an agreement: Anonymous has a first-look production deal with Paramount TV that expires in May 2017. But sources say Anonymous is working toward extricating itself from that contract. One scenario sees Paramount also taking a minority stake in Anonymous. Entertainment One, which has been on a buying spree as of late, also is interested in buying a piece of Anonymous.
Among management companies, Anonymous has been one of the most coveted by entertainment companies and private-equity firms looking to buy into the lucrative business that yields 10 to 15 percent of client earnings as well as packaging and producing fees on TV series. The 70-employee, Culver City-based Anonymous boasts a client list that includes Samuel L. Jackson, Ryan Gosling, Russell Brand and Emma Stone as well as directors Steven Soderbergh and Cary Fukunaga.
The company also has packaged such TV projects as HBO's critically acclaimed True Detective (Fukunaga directed season one, which starred Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson) and Cinemax's The Knick. And at this year's Academy Awards, the company had two films competing for best picture: The Revenant and Spotlight, the latter taking home the night's top prize.
The move would mark the latest splashy deal struck by Endemol co-CEOs Cris Abrego and Charlie Corwin, who are spearheading the merging of Endemol and Shine's stateside efforts. Last year, Endemol Shine partnered with Ryan Seacrest Productions' unscripted division, which has spawned the Kardashian empire and Shahs of Sunset. In recent years, Endemol also acquired Authentic Entertainment, Original Media, True Entertainment and 51 Minds. The company also reportedly showed interest in The Weinstein Company's TV division before ITV made a play for it (that deal fell apart).
But the reality giant has also been eyeing management companies for some time. Sources say Endemol Shine also had been in talks to buy Management 360 — another company with such A-list clients as Channing Tatum and Anne Hathaway and that has packaged hit series like Game of Thrones — but Management 360 walked away from a potential deal, and Endemol turned its focus toward Anonymous.
After private-equity firms acquired stakes in CAA and WME, management companies became the next logical frontier, given their comparable access to talent yet significantly smaller price tags (by comparison, CAA sold a 35 percent interest to TPG Capital in 2010 in a deal that created a $500 million investment fund).
All of the big management firms — which also includes Brillstein Entertainment, Principato Young and 3 Arts — have been courted by private money to expand their businesses. But until now, Anonymous has resisted outside money, telling The Hollywood Reporter in 2013 interview, "We've been talking to people about getting even more capital, but as of yet we haven't done that. There's tons of money out there right now: There's private equity; there's Wall Street; there's rich individuals. Money is not the problem. The problem is having a solid business plan and knowing what you're doing, whether it's a movie, a TV series or a company."
Endemol declined comment.
Guggenheim is representing Anonymous in talks.