Michael Sugar's Sugar23 Expands with Key Hires, Raises $30 Million

Michael Sugar
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In a bid to become a global media enterprise, the company has launched book and podcast divisions and is re-prioritizing with a focus on management.

Sugar23, the company founded by Oscar-winning producer and manager Michael Sugar, is expanding in a bid to become a global media enterprise.

The production company has made several key hires, including a chief financial officer and general counsel, and is launching a book division and a podcast division. The company also announced it has also raised $30 million with SWaN & Legend Venture Partners and MRC that will spur the move beyond its current core production business (MRC is a co-owner of The Hollywood Reporter through a joint venture with Penske Media titled PMRC). Sugar23, which bills itself as having a mandate of "storytelling with integrity," has so far focused mainly on film and series production thanks to a rich deal with Netflix.

Dan Riedler, who worked in corporate development and was at one time an executive at Warner Bros. and a consultant at Bain & Company, has been tapped as chief financial officer while Evan Sils, a former head of M&A Legal for Credit Suisse Asset Management, has been hired as general counsel.

Angela Ledgerwood, a former magazine editor and books columnist, will act as editorial director of Sugar23 Books, which is a publishing imprint at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, while Mike Mayer will be head of Sugar23 Podcast Group. Also being brought on board are Cliff Spence as chief product officer and Shelsea Jacobs as head of packaging.

These senior executives join previously announced head of production Ashley Zalta and head of unscripted David Hillman. Riedler and Sils join Sugar and Zalta as Sugar23 Partners.

Sugar, who made his name as a manager representing such boldfaced names as Steven Soderbergh and Cary Fukunaga, is also reprioritizing the management side of the business. Former WME agent Meredith Wechter, who represents actors such as Gal Gadot and Jason Momoa, is in talks to join the company as a manager.

With the pieces coming into place and a staff of 35, Sugar23 will be able to integrate different mediums and businesses that will feature storytelling, talent ranging from actors to musicians to athletes, and brands.

“We will be able to actually deliver on the promise of building enterprise for clients and brands,” said Sugar.

With Zalta running point, Sugar23 is in the middle of a first-look film and overall series deal with Netflix, a deal which yielded the all-star Soderbergh movie The Laundromat, among others.

Sugar23 is currently in pre-production on season three of Dickinson for Apple TV+, starring Hailee Steinfeld and Jane Krakowski, with season two launching Jan. 8. The banner also produced Worth, starring Michael Keaton and Stanley Tucci. The drama premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival and is expected to be released in 2021.