EXCLUSIVE: Financier Ron Burkle‘s global investment firm The Yucaipa Companies is expanding its entertainment portfolio with another move in the representation area. WME partner Ken Slotnick is leaving the agency to start a management/production company backed by Yucaipa. It is the second major move by Yucaipa in the last couple of weeks, following the launch of UK-based production company SID Gentle Films, headed by Sally Woodward Gentle, which will be focused on scripted drama, TV movies and miniseries as well as indie features. Based in New York, Slotnick was part of WME’s branded lifestyle group and worked in the non-scripted area, with The Talk/Big Brother host Julie Chen among his clients. He came from the William Morris side where he was an agent for a decade before the 2009 merger with Endeavor and was named a WME partner in January 2012.
Burkle has been ramping up his entertainment portfolio, recently joining with former top Conde Nast and Prometheus Global Media executive Richard Beckman to start New York-based Three Lions Entertainment. Two years ago, the supermarket mogul and philanthropic businessman bought most of Elliot Capitol Management’s stake in Ryan Kavanaugh’s Relativity Media for what is believed to have been $800M. He also helped to launch Current TV started by former VP Al Gore, and also financed movies for Harvey and Bob Weinstein. Last year, Burkle bought one of the leading live entertainment agencies, Artist Group International, which books musicians, comedians and sporting events around the globe, and Yucaipa and Relativity Media launched Relativity Sports to represent athletes, coaches and broadcasters.
With a net worth that is estimated to be over $3 billion, Burkle is known for putting his money into causes he is passionate about. He is one of the top contributors to the Democratic party and also contributes to many philanthropic causes, often without taking or receiving credit. For instance, he was one of the top contributors to the National Compassion Fund which is being established in D.C. to help victims of this nation’s future mass shootings and terror attacks get back on their feet financially.