WME and IMG will combine their film financing and scripted TV sales operations under the central banner of Endeavor Content.
Graham Taylor and Chris Rice will serve as co-presidents of Endeavor Content.
The consolidation of WME’s film finance and advisory wing headed by Taylor and the scripted TV sales efforts led by Rice under IMG comes a few days after the Endeavor brand was resurrected as the name for the parent company of WME and IMG. Endeavor was the scrappy agency that acquired William Morris Agency in 2009, which turned WMA and into WME. IMG came into the fold in 2014, after which the combined entity was known as WME/IMG.
Endeavor Content is beefing up the staff with the appointments of Weinstein Co. alum Negeen Yazdi as senior VP of film and Joe Hipps, late of Media Rights Capital, as senior VP of television. Yazdi was previously president of international production and acquisitions at TWC; Hipps was senior VP at the production entity behind Netflix’s “House of Cards.”
The international film financing company Bloom, acquired in August by Endeavor, will also operate as an autonomous unit of Endeavor Content.
Taylor and Rice said the streamlining into Endeavor Content will make it easier for the company to pursue a unified approach to sales and financing, and it will allow them to make the most of back-office resources. It also reflects the fact that the worlds of financing, producing and distributing film and TV projects are closer than ever before.
Both also emphasized that Endeavor’s focus on building out sales and financing operations are designed to benefit the core WME talent agency’s clients by giving them more options for dealmaking that supports their creative desires. Endeavor’s rivals and studios that do business with the agency’s broad array of clients continue to have concerns about the potential for conflicts of interests as Endeavor content becomes a bigger player.
“With the continued disruption taking place across the media landscape, we are forming Endeavor Content to enable talent to achieve better economics and more creative freedom,” said Taylor. “Through our ability to package content, access capital resources, and engage our global sales infrastructure, Endeavor Content provides a unique platform designed to empower artists and content creators,” Rice said.
Endeavor Content will also be home to WME’s advisory group for film financiers and content producers. The unit headed by Mark Ankner, Liesl Copland, and Alexis Garcia offers guidance on the potential of various projects to clients and outside producers and content firms. That specialty also helps WME offer a valuable expertise to clients, in Rice and Taylor’s view.
The union of Rice and Taylor’s operations has been a long time coming, both executives say, because the structure of the entertainment business has morphed so dramatically in recent years. The stranglehold of a half-dozen major studios has been broken by the rise of digital and international buyers with big appetites and big checks to write for content. Endeavor Content aims to help clients make the most of those opportunities.
“Those lines are all blurring,” Rice says. “It doesn’t make sense any more to separate film and television in the classic way.”