A+E Networks has set a broad content production and business development venture with Range Media Partners, the talent management startup that launched 16 months ago by CAA and Entertainment One alum Peter Micelli.
As part of the deal, A+E Networks has taken a minority stake in Range, which has grown quickly with a roster of talent managers and executives, from across film, TV, music, talent representation, production, activism, branded content and venture strategy. A+E Networks is home to cable stalwarts A&E Network, History and Lifetime, the A+E Studios banner and a growing collection of FAST streaming channels.
The deal calls for A+E Studios to serve as Range’s production partner on scripted project. A+E Networks also has a first-look deal with Range for unscripted projects for its networks and production imprints Category 6 Media and Six West Media.
The expansive pact came about in part because the key players — A+E Networks chief Paul Buccieri, Range’s Micelli and A+E Studios president Barry Jossen — are longtime friends and colleagues. Buccieri told Variety he’s been impressed with Range’s fast start even in pandemic times.
“They’re building something special at Range,” said Buccieri, who is chairman and president of A+E Networks. “Being involved with Range will heighten our speed to market by working with exceptional talent and nurturing their vision with our infrastructure and our experience.”
As a management firm, Range Media Partners is not subject to the same conflict-of-interest restrictions that talent agencies face for investors that also have ties to production and distribution assets. But it is understood that A+E’s equity stake in Range is below the 20% limit established in 2020 under the new rules for agencies that represent members of the Writers Guild of America.
Financial details were not disclosed but it’s understood the deal pushes the valuation of Range into nine-figure territory. Range’s initial backers include Steven A. Cohen’s Point72 private equity firm.
The alliance with A+E, which is jointly owned by Walt Disney Co. and Hearst, brings Range a big influx of capital and even more significantly, access to the company’s significant resources in production, distribution, marketing, e-commerce and international. Micelli intends for Range’s entrepreneurial managers and executives to make the most of the access to A+E’s assets to create shows and build businesses for clients.
“This positions us to drive best-in-class productions,” Micelli told Variety. “Together we have the people to execute in scripted and nonscripted. And we bring in another very sophisticated partner from an investment standpoint to help us map out the future of where media is going.”
Range Media Partners at present has about 80 full-time employees. Staffers have worked remotely since the firm was founded in September 2020 but plans are in the works for Range to move into offices at Santa Monica’s Bergamot Station Arts Center later this year. The company’s clients at present include such stars as Emilia Clarke and Bradley Cooper to directors Michael Bay, M. Night Shyamalan, Alma Ha’rel, Luca Guadagnino and showrunner Damon Lindelof to musicians Jack Harlow and Wale.
Micelli emphasized that in building Range, he’s sought to assemble a group of managers and entrepreneurs active in a range of industry sectors, from actors, writers and producers to musicians, influencers and activists with big media followings. The company’s roster of manager partners at present is Dave Bugliari, Mackenzie Condon Roussos, Rich Cook, Michael Cooper, Susie Fox, Matt Graham, Sandra Kang, Rachel Kropa, Natalie Bruss, Chelsea McKinnies, Mick Sullivan, Byron Wetzel and Jack Whigham as well as music division managing partners Matt Graham, Jack Minihan, Tyler Henry, Melissa Ruderman, Chris Thomas and Evan Winiker.
Micelli has also recruited investment partners with resources and expertise that will help Range clients launch business ventures.
“Now we have the capital to create businesses and assets with our clients,” Micelli said. “We’re very humbled by the support we’ve received.” He noted that all of A+E’s investment will be used to build Range rather than for any big payouts to Micelli or his partners.
A+E, meanwhile, gets a direct pipeline to the creative talent represented by Range. A+E hopes to turn the relationship into an expressway for developing content for its channels as well as other buyers. Range’s heft in music representation was particularly attractive to A+E as its cable networks are voracious buyers of music-themed unscripted documentaries and docuseries as well as made-for-TV movies.
For A+E, the investment in Range is part of an effort to diversify beyond its stronghold of cable television at a time of major disruption in the pay TV marketplace. Under Jossen, A+E Studios has stepped up its volume of production for external outlets. The company is the home of ABC drama “Big Sky” and the Netflix drama series “The Lincoln Lawyer,” and just this week ABC gave a straight-to-series order to another drama, “Avalon.” Range and A+E Studios at present have a drama series, “The White House Doctor,” percolating at Fox.
A+E Studios is also branching out into international local-language productions. The first effort is a supernatural thriller “The Malevolent Bride,” set to air this year on Israeli pubcaster KAN 11.
“We are proud to provide our services and creativity as a growth engine for Range’s expansive ambitions,” said Jossen. “We have a large roster of projects ready for the marketplace, all of which perfectly fit the Range Media Partners/A+E Studios strategic alliance of bringing together high-end artists to create and produce in a talent-friendly environment to bring their visions to the screen. We are thrilled.”
A+E Networks’ advisors on the transaction were Raine Group and Joe Gangitano and Adrian Perry of Covington & Burlington. Range Media Partners was repped by Robert Benson & Rahul Patel of King & Spalding and the late Jerry Longarzo and Jeff Freid of Longarzo Vance Klevan Freid.
(Pictured: Paul Buccieri, Peter Micelli and Barry Jossen)