Venture to enrich entertainment experience

Only weeks after the Yucaipa Cos. teamed with Artists Management Group founder Michael Ovitz to launch e-tailer CheckOut.com, Internet investment outfit Idealab! has pacted with Creative Artists Agency to launch a slew of entertainment-themed Web properties tied to the agency’s client list, the companies said Monday.

Pasadena-based Idealab! has launched several popular e-commerce ventures, including eToys, CarsDirect.com, GoTo.com, HomePage.com, WeddingChannel.com and Cooking.com. Helmer Steven Spielberg is one of its investors.

Venture marks CAA’s first foray into the Internet arena to develop original online content for either its clients or the agency.

“With bandwidth increasing dramatically, the timing is right for the Internet to provide people with a far richer kind of entertainment experience,” said Bill Gross, chairman of Idealab!

Although both CAA and Idealab! declined to disclose details regarding their new venture, the companies did say they will focus on developing projects that will enable participating artists to exercise total creative control over content while protecting their financial interest and rights to privacy.

The projects would heavily push CAA clients.

“Commerce will come first, creativity will come second,” said one source close to the project.

CAA represents such clients as Tom Hanks, Madonna, Celine Dion, Ron Howard and Jerry Bruckheimer.

“We’re always looking for new ways to add value for our clients,” said Richard Lovett, prexy of CAA. “Our projects will be of, by and for entertainers and their fans.”

CAA and Idealab! are expected to announce details of their first venture later this summer.

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