This comes after Montgomery stepped down as Chief Executive of the U.S. division of the British broadcaster and studio last week and was replaced by ITV America President David George.
Wheelhouse Entertainment will be the umbrella group, which will operate a number of production labels, talent-driven partnerships and “360 businesses”. Based in both New York and L.A., Spoke Studios will be the first production division and will be responsible for its partnership with ITV America and will look to produce unscripted series that explore “extraordinary worlds, dynamic characters and human ingenuity”.
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Montgomery tells me that he’s moving back to focus “largely on disrupting the current unscripted business model, and selling a lot of cutting-edge programs”.
He will be joined in the new venture by his former ITV America and Leftfield Entertainment colleague and “co-architect” Ed Simpson, who will become Chief Strategy Officer at Wheelhouse Entertainment. Simpson was most recently EVP, Business Development and International at ITV America and oversaw the company’s branded entertainment initiatives including a high-profile deal to launch the Gordon Ramsay Hell’s Kitchen restaurant in Las Vegas.
In an internal note to ITV America staff announcing his departure, seen by Deadline, Montgomery said: “We all have some of the greatest jobs in the world. On a bad day we’re making the 38th episode of a TV show and on a good day we’re imagining what that 38th episode will look like, but with nothing more than a blank piece of paper in front of us. Swing for the fences and don’t take no for an answer. Your creativity is your biggest weapon. Imagine bigger and bolder and if you flop get back up again.”
In announcing Wheelhouse, he added he couldn’t be “more eager to get started in this second act” and that it was a business model that demanded a stellar and focused team willing to roll up their sleeves, and embrace a maverick approach and risk-taking, balanced with sound strategy and expert execution.” Montgomery, who sold Pawn Stars producer Leftfield Entertainment to ITV in 2014 for $360M, is expected to announce more appointments across Wheelhouse and Spoke Studios shortly.
“After an amazing run at Leftfield and then ITV, I’m thrilled for the opportunity to build something new and disruptive from the ground up. Incorporating everything I’ve learned and experienced as a producer, an entrepreneur, a CEO and an investor, Wheelhouse will concentrate on creating new and alternative business models specifically aimed at solving our clients’ cost challenges, while leveraging the changing and rocky media landscape we are all navigating. We will seek out and broker key talent partnerships that Wheelhouse also will invest in, helping to nurture and market a range of opportunities that fuel our talents’ goals and key businesses, both inside and outside of entertainment,” he added.
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