Dixon Talent, Home to Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, Acquired by WME-IMG (Exclusive)

Jon Stewart Stephen Colbert Split - H 2014
Comedy Central

Jon Stewart Stephen Colbert Split - H 2014

The management company, which also represents Jimmy Kimmel and Carson Daly, will remain a separate entity under the WME-IMG banner

One of New York's top independent talent managers is joining the growing WME-IMG fold.

James Dixon, whose Dixon Talent represents Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel, among others, is selling his business to the sports and entertainment behemoth that has been on a buying spree of late. Dixon's A-list clients are expected to remain with the firm.

Dixon, whose small management company has amassed an enviable roster of clients, including comic Adam Carolla, ESPN's Bill Simmons and The Voice host Carson Daly, will remain a separate entity under the WME-IMG banner, rather than being integrated into the bigger fold. The acquisition will boost WME-IMG's roster of top comics and TV broadcasters. The company already represents Chris Matthews and Charlie Rose, among others in that space.

“James has built his business on two core philosophies that are intrinsic to WME-IMG: a belief in great talent and applying an entrepreneurial approach to representation,” WME-IMG co-CEO Patrick Whitesell tells The Hollywood Reporter in a statement. Adds co-CEO Ari Emanuel: “We look forward to extending his business even further through the resources WME-IMG has to offer across each of its divisions."

Dixon, 52, started his firm in 2001 after spending 14 years at the William Morris Agency, then joining CAA and leaving to run the comedy management arm of Michael Ovitz's Artists Management Group. He declined to comment on the new move.

Since receiving an infusion of money from venture capital fund Silver Lake, WME has made several strategic acquisitions. It paid $2.3 billion last year for sports and fashion behemoth IMG, and it has picked up such smaller companies as ad agency Droga5, which was named Adweek's U.S. agency of the year, and, just last week, Global eSports Management, which reps clients in the gaming industry.

Neither Emanuel nor Whitesell would comment on the Dixon purchase price, though one source says WME outbid rival CAA (backed by investor TPG Capital) by a significant margin. WME and CAA, both now majority owned by private equity groups, have been locked in an arms race to grow bigger and bigger in what some see as an attempt to go public first. Rival UTA also has been in buying mode, picking up N.S. Bienstock, which reps such top TV broadcasters as Robin Roberts and Anderson Cooper.    

Dixon will remain based in New York.

Email: Austin.Siegemund-Broka@THR.com, Matthew.Belloni@thr.com