CAA Exploring TV Scripted Operation With Former ABC Boss Paul Lee

CAA has been kicking the tires of a potential scripted series production entity with former ABC Entertainment Group president Paul Lee. Word of the discussions first surfaced in October. Two months later, the venture continues to be in exploratory stages, with no deals in place and no backing for the potential operation. There had been speculation that TPG, which owns a majority stake in CAA, would finance the potential company, but that has not been determined.

However, informal discussions have continued, with Lee involved. If CAA proceeds with the entity, it would follow in the footsteps of rival WME which, through its management/production company IMG, has been venturing into producing and distributing high-end content. The model involves top talent, usually repped by the agency, who get lucrative ownership and profit participation. One of IMG’s first efforts was limited series The Night Manager, which it sold internationally. Most recently, it backed the new Steve Harvey syndicated talk show.

As packaging/back-end fees no longer as lucrative revenue source with the proliferation of streaming services like Netflix, talent agencies have been looking for ways to diversify their business. Once frowned upon as potential source for conflict of interest, producing content is becoming more and more attractive.

British-born Lee abruptly left ABC in February. Before his tenure at the network, he ran the millennials-driven ABC Family. He has experience working in the UK and Latin America, which could come handy as indie production companies rely on international sales and co-productions.

CAA has backed independent TV production companies before, including the now-defunct Georgeville Television.

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