AMG, duo to laugh it up

Parent spins off Comedy Group

Gotham-based William Morris Agency reps James Dixon and Mike August are leaving the agency to head Artists Comedy Group, an autonomous shingle established by Artists Management Group.

Artists Comedy Group aims to be ground zero for comedy-related business within AMG. Though established as a separate company, ACG will rep talent and lit clients, as well as package and develop film and TV projects in conjunction with other AMG arms, namely the television production component Artists Television Group.

For Dixon, a 14-year vet of WMA, it’s an opportunity to become more actively involved in the creative end of packaging and development.

Big moment

“The opportunity to work with some of the most talented individuals in the business and help build a company from the ground up is something I’ve dreamed about for a long time,” Dixon said.

Dixon and August have spearheaded WMA’s push into Gotham’s fertile comedy club scene, which led to the WMA signings of such up-and-comers as “Everybody Loves Raymond’s” Ray Romano and Kevin James (CBS’ “King of Queens”).

Dixon and August will continue to be based in New York.

Early break

While August’s contract with the percentery expires this month, WMA allowed Dixon to leave the agency early, before his contract expires in approximately 18 months.

As part of the good will (or good business) behind allowing Dixon to exit early, ACG has struck a nonexclusive alliance with WMA to develop and package television programming.

“James Dixon and Mike August have carved a powerful niche for themselves in the world of comedy,” said AMG co-founder Rick Yorn, who made the ACG announcement with Artists Television Group prexy and CEO Eric Tannenbaum. “AMG and ATG look forward to working closely with them to develop their talent in the diverse outlets we have to offer in film, television and the Internet markets.”

Eye for comedy

Tannenbaum added: “James and Mike have a unique and discerning eye for developing comedic talent, and ACG is a natural progression for them. ATG is thrilled to have the opportunity to work alongside them to develop and produce television comedies.”

In related news, ATG announced that Gary Gradinger has joined the firm as senior vice president of business affairs. Gradinger, who joins ATG from Warner Bros. TV where he served as VP of business affairs, will head ATG’s business affairs department, overseeing the negotiations of talent, development and production agreements, as well as network deals for pilots, series and telepics.

Gradinger will report to Sandra Stern, chief operating officer of ATG.