David Glasser, the former chief operating officer of the Weinstein Co., is launching a $300 million film and TV company with the backing of billionaire investor Ron Burkle, Variety has learned.
The formation of the production outfit, named 101 Studios, marks a fresh start for Glasser, who was in line to become CEO of the Weinstein Co. had Burkle succeeded in buying the beleaguered company a year ago. Instead, the New York attorney general filed a lawsuit that scuttled the deal, Glasser was fired, and the company went bankrupt.
The company, which will officially be announced this week, has opened offices in Century City with a staff of about 20 people. The headcount is expected to grow to 35 to 40 over the next two weeks. The company will focus primarily on film acquisitions and distribution, and TV production.
Glasser and his team will head to the Sundance Film Festival this week, where he is expected to be in the hunt for titles. His new company is said to be eyeing domestic distribution rights to “The Current War,” starring Benedict Cumberbatch, a Weinstein Co. project that has been tied up in the bankruptcy process.
The film, which debuted at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival, was initially set for release in November 2017. The Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse scandal, which crippled the company, put those plans on hold.
Director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon has been doing some reshooting and re-editing of the film, according to filings in the bankruptcy case. Martin Scorsese is said to be involved as an executive producer, though his representatives did not respond to a request for comment.
Lantern Entertainment, which bought the Weinstein Co. assets in bankruptcy last summer, still holds international rights to the film. The domestic rights are in the hands of East West Bank, which is also providing financing to 101 Studios.
Glasser’s company is also bidding on an upcoming project from director Lee Daniels entitled “United States v. Billie Holiday.” Daniels’ last film, “The Butler,” was distributed by the Weinstein Co.
For Burkle, the deal marks the investor’s latest foray in the entertainment business. Burkle previously provided financing to Ryan Kavanaugh’s Relativity Media and invested in several Weinstein Co. films.
A year ago, Burkle put together a group to buy the Weinstein Co. for $500 million, including $225 million in assumed debt. The deal was set to close on Feb. 11, 2018, when New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a civil rights suit against the Weinstein Co. Schneiderman — who would later resign in his own abuse scandal — alleged that Glasser had failed to adequately investigate sexual harassment claims at the company, and questioned why he was about to become CEO.
The suit upended the sale, and Glasser was ousted as chief operating officer several days later. Glasser adamantly denied wrongdoing and threatened to sue the company, but ultimately did not. Several attempts to revive the sale, with some compensation set aside for Weinstein’s alleged victims, ultimately went nowhere. The company sold to Lantern in bankruptcy for $289 million.
At the time, many questioned whether Burkle was overpaying, especially given the massive potential liabilities due to Weinstein’s alleged conduct. Instead, many said it would be easier to simply start a new company. He is now doing that.