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Imagine TV lures Krantz from CAA

Imagine Television, the new TV arm of Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment, has tapped veteran Creative Artists Agency agent Tony Krantz as a partner and CEO of the startup.

Krantz, who has been at CAA for 15 years, will join Imagine in June to oversee the day-to-day operations of Imagine Television, which last February inked a multiyear production deal with Walt Disney Television valued at $10 million to $12 million (Daily Variety, Feb. 11). Besides being a co-partner and CEO of Imagine Television, Krantz will also have an ownership stake with Grazer and Howard.

The addition of Krantz reaffirms Imagine’s commitment to television. Primarily known for their films (“Ransom,” “The Nutty Professor,” “Liar Liar”), Imagine execs have stressed that TV won’t be a sideline or vanity business for the production company.

“Krantz is one of the most effective packaging agents in television today,” Grazer said in a statement. Howard added that the addition of Krantz will help Imagine “realize the potential of our television relationship with Disney.”

Walt Disney Studios chairman Joe Roth, who has been very involved in the wooing of Imagine TV to Disney, said the addition of Krantz to Imagine Television confirms the studio’s belief that “we are seeing the birth of a major player in the television world.”

For CAA, the loss of Krantz is the second big departure in a week. Last week, CAA co-chairman Jack Rapke exited to pursue other opportunities in the entertainment business.

Unlike Rapke, however, the departure of Krantz did not come as a total shock to CAA toppers. Krantz had approached his bosses last year to let them know he was considering a change of scenery. He gave official word late last week. The fact that the two left in the same week was co-incidence, according to CAA.

At CAA, Krantz’s key clients included “ER” executive producer John Wells. Krantz packaged the series, which has become the top drama for NBC and made tens of millions for the network and Warner Bros. Television, which produces the series. Krantz also worked as part of the CAA team working on the TV aspirations of feature directors Oliver Stone (“Wild Palms”) and Francis Ford Coppola, who last year tried to create a drama version of his 1974 theatrical “The Conversation.” Krantz will remain at CAA for the next few weeks to help with the transition process.

CAA TV topper and co-chairman Lee Gabler said Krantz has been a “loyal and productive person,” and that the agency has “nothing but good wishes for him.”

Imagine Television has comedies in development at ABC and Fox. At ABC, screenwriters Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel are executive producing a comedy about two foundering fathers. Also at ABC, according to Grazer, is another comedy, called “Sugar Daddies.”

At Fox, Eddie Murphy is involved in producing a comedy under the Imagine banner. However, another comedy under Imagine, based on Universal’s “The Nutty Professor,” is now on the back burner.

Under the terms of Imagine’s TV deal with Disney, TV series that are not based on Imagine Entertainment films will be taken to the Mouse House. Projects based on their films such as the now-delayed “The Klumps,” which was based on “The Nutty Professor,” will be done at Universal, where Imagine has its movie deal through the year 2000.

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