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Hausfater, Kohlberg join Essential

Shingle aids biz newbies

Veteran sales-acquisitions exec Jere Hausfater and equity firm maven Jim Kohlberg have joined forces as Essential Entertainment, aiming the shingle to serve as a one-stop shop for new investors and producers.

Los Angeles-based Essential will arrange production financing, consult with financiers who want to invest in features and build a slate of third party and inhouse productions for global sales, distribution and marketing. Hausfater, who’s worked at Disney, Intermedia and Miramax, will serve as CEO and Kohlberg will be chaiman.

Hausfater said Essential’s anchor will be its global sales and distribution capability. He told Daily Variety that Essential’s designed to fill a gap for producers by providing more support than a sales agents can provide.

“Essential will serve as a gateway to Hollywood for new investors, monetizing risk for single pictures or a slate of pictures,” he added. “We have the ability to use our own funds and other capital to acquire rights, provide pre-production monies, and we also have the expertise to mount financing for pictures outside or in conjunction with studios.”

Hausfater said he couldn’t disclose the level of capitalization for Essential but added, “It’s enough to get into trouble.”

Kohlberg’s the managing partner in Kohlberg & Co., which he formed in 1987 with his father Jerome Kohlberg Jr., who was the senior founding partner of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. Kohlberg & Co. has raised more than $2.2 billion since its founding. He’s been involved via the Filbert Steps shingle with producing the 2000 feature “Two Family House” and a documentary on Dalton Trumbo.

“Since last producing and financing films, I have been evaluating various business opportunities for future involvement in the industry,” Kohlberg said. “I was impressed not only with the team Jere had assembled, but with our collective vision, which further reinforces the basis of what we’re announcing here today.”

Essential’s also setting up New York-based Essential Prods., with Al Klingenstein as CEO and Kohlberg to develop and produce commercial mainstream pictures. The banner will handle pics of all budget ranges with an emphasis on projects that can perform at the international box office.

Hausfater’s also signed Randy Hermann as chief operating officer and chief financial officer and John Fremes as president of international. Hermann, who spent a decade as CFO and exec VP of Mandalay Pictures, will head production financing and advisory functions.

During his Mandalay tenure, Hermann arranged $600 million in production financing. Fremes was most recently president of Element Films Intl. and was the founder and president of Le Monde Entertainment, a division of Alliance Atlantis.

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