The move, announced on Wednesday, makes Sugar23 one of the first major L.A. production companies to anchor itself in the country’s capital and political center.
“We believe that D.C. is the epicenter for law, politics, philanthropy and global policy; stories naturally emerge from that epicenter, and so not having a viable footprint there is antithetical to our cause,” Sugar said.
Sugar is a Georgetown University alumnus. He won an Oscar for producing best picture winner “Spotlight,” along with Blye Pagon Faust, Steve Golin and Nicole Rocklin; and Peabody Awards for the television series “The Knick” and “Dickinson.” His other credits include “The Laundromat,” “Maniac,” “The Report” and “Worth.”
The company said the expansion comes as a natural next step for a company that brings many Washington, D.C., stories to the screen, and will give Sugar23 more opportunities to leverage its first-look deal with Netflix.
Sugar23’s John McElwee, currently the director of literary affairs, will spend a considerable amount of time on the ground in D.C., and will be responsible for staffing up that office. McElwee started his career in publishing at the literary agency Aitken Alexander Associates, and has since worked at The New Yorker, and as an executive for Scott Rudin Productions and Steven Zaillian’s Film Rites.
Sugar23 has interests in VR, esports, intellectual property and podcasts. Sugar23 has a publishing deal with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, from which it has already announced the book “First Shots,” about the race for a COVID-19 vaccine. It has also partnered with the Mandela family on the creation of Mandela Media, which develops content based on racial inclusion and equality, gender equality, mental health awareness and social justice. The company recently unveiled a partnership with iHeartMedia and sports commentator Dan Patrick to create a podcast, in addition to a strategic partnership with Time Studios.