UTA, MRC and Valence Media Form Joint Television Venture

Courtesy of UTA
Jeremy Zimmer

The talent agency will hold a minority stake in Civic Center Media, which will develop, produce and finance premium content

UTA is teaming with Valence Media and its independent studio, Media Rights Capital, on a new joint content venture.

Dubbed Civic Center Media (the agency's Beverly Hills headquarters is located on Civic Center Drive), the new venture will develop, produce and finance premium television series, and the search for an executive to lead it is now underway. UTA will own an undisclosed minority stake, and financial details of the transaction were not revealed. Valence Media is the parent company of The Hollywood Reporter.

The deal is UTA's first significant move since taking on $200 million in private equity in August. The agency has signaled that expanding into content production would be a key spending priority; it already owns an equity stake in American Idol producer Industrial Media.

As with Endeavor Content and CAA's wiip, this new agency-affiliated content company claims a more streamlined development process, with less overhead and more favorable financial and creative terms for creators, with an emphasis on potential backend benefit. Although UTA hopes Civic Center Media will serve as an additional resource for its clients, the new venture is open to working with all artists. The arrangement is non-exclusive, and UTA and MRC will continue to work with other studios and talent firms, respectively. In August, MRC formed a joint venture with talent management-production player Management 360 to develop and back TV projects.

"As we looked at the landscape of potential partners and content models, our priority was to work with a studio that puts artists and creators first," UTA CEO Jeremy Zimmer said Wednesday in a statement. "MRC shares our 'artist first' mentality and our belief that the time has come for a new business model that offers more creative control and ownership opportunities to artists. They have one of the best track records in our industry and will bring superb infrastructure and resources to the projects we create. As new distribution platforms fundamentally change the economics of our business and tilt the balance of power towards creators, there is no better partner for us and our clients."

MRC has developed and produced projects including Netflix's House of Cards and Ozark and Starz's Counterpart, as well as the hit features Ted and Baby Driver. It also has co-financed films including Peter Rabbit, Furious 7, 22 Jump Street and Hotel Transylvania 2 and 3. Upcoming projects include Tony McNamara's Catherine the Great series The Great, starring Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult; Peter Jackson's Mortal Engines; and Rian Johnson's Knives Out, starring Daniel Craig and Chris Evans.

"We've enjoyed a terrific relationship with UTA for more than 15 years," Valence co-CEOs Modi Wiczyk and Asif Satchu said in a joint statement. "UTA sees the opportunities both within and beyond the traditional studio system and prioritizes new business models that protect and advance artists. Even more, they have always had deep passion and an uncanny eye for identifying gifted talent and groundbreaking creators. We're excited to build this venture with them."