EXCLUSIVE: In a major restructuring of manager/producer Principato-Young Entertainment, Electus has escalated its ownership from a minority to majority stake and co-founder Paul Young will be leaving after 17 years to form a new management/production company. Peter Principato has signed a long term deal and becomes president/CEO, and he will work closely with Electus CEO Chris Grant and COO Drew Buckley.
“From scripted to unscripted, across all platforms, serving and creating opportunities for talent is at the heart of Electus,” Grant and Buckley said in a statement to Deadline. “We are thrilled to expand our partnership with PYE as we collaborate to create innovative content for a global marketplace. We thank Paul Young for his many contributions to the exceptional company he co-founded, and wish him the very best in his next chapter. All of us at Electus are excited for what’s next as we continue working with Peter Principato and the fantastic partners, managers and clients of PYE.”
Electus, which is majority owned by Barry Diller’s IAC, would not comment on the exact size of its stake in Principato-Young after acquiring Young’s stake, or the price of the transaction. The deal, which was originally put in motion when Electus founder Ben Silverman was still at the company, adds a management component and expands an Electus programming footprint that already included the CW’s Jane the Virgin, NBC’s Running Wild with Bear Grylls, as well as Discovery’s upcoming Darkness. While it was a minority owner, Electus collaborated with PYE on the Will Arnett Netflix series Flaked, which premiered its second season in June, and the companies are also teamed on the upcoming Hot Date for PopTV.
Principato and Young partnered in 2000, and progressively built a powerhouse company. A Daily Variety reporter who moved to Paramount before transitioning to lit manager, Young started out with current PYE star partner and black-ish exec producer Brian Dobbins. He then partnered with Principato after the latter left William Morris to take a more active hand in clients and their projects. This was at a time when companies like PYE, Benderspink and Warren Zide quickly established themselves with lit-driven businesses that led to hit comedy films and sitcoms. Young helped start the careers of the likes of Don. D. Scott (Barbershop), Robert Ben Garant (Reno 911! & Night at the Museum), Jon Hurwitz & Hayden Schlossberg (Harold and Kumar), and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash (The Descendants). Young moves on with several projects: AMC/Sundance Now just picked up the first season of The Chances, the Super Deluxe series which Young is executive producing with Killer Films, the first series created by and starring deaf artists — Joshua Feldman and Shoshannah Stern. Young is also executive producing Jessie Kahnweiler’s The Skinny at Hulu, a painfully comedic examination of bulimia. Additionally, Young will be executive producer on the second season of Snatchers for Warner Brothers’ Stage 13 and Go90.
Young will continue to collaborate with PYE on projects, including serving as executive producer with Principato and Dobbins on a reboot of the PYE comedy series, Campus Ladies, which has been set up at Universal Cable Prods. He will lean in on a knack for breaking new talent with his new venture, and he takes with him management clients that include scribe and Oscar-winning composer Justin Hurwitz (La La Land, Curb Your Enthusiasm), Diane Ruggiero (iZombie, Veronica Mars), Jessie Kahnweiler (The Skinny), Don D. Scott, Dan Lagana (American Vandal), Joan Scheckel (Transparent), Kevin Napier (The Station), The Olde Money Boyz (Snatchers), Josh Feldman and Shoshannah Stern (The Chances), John Lehr and Nancy Hower (Quick Draw), Mark Cope and Carlo Moss (The Most Popular Girls in School) and writer-performers Calum Worthy and Miles Fisher.
That leaves Principato to steer the PYE ship while managing his formidable roster of clients and producing shows and movies. Among his producing credits are the films Central Intelligence and Keanu, as well as the series Married for FX, Wet Hot American Summer for Netflix as well as Comedy Central’s Key & Peele, for which Principato won an Emmy. The company also produces ABC’s black-ish and the upcoming The Last OG for TBS.
The collective PYE talent roster includes Cristela Alonzo, Anthony Anderson, Arnett, Ike Barinholtz, Kenya Barris, Tracee Ellis Ross, R. Ben Garant, F. Gary Gray, Andrew Gurland, Tiffany Haddish, Regina Hall, Ed Helms, Keegan-Michael Key, Queen Latifah, Thomas Lennon, Kate McKinnon, Niecy Nash, Jordan Peele, Rob Riggle, Michael Showalter, John Travolta, David Wain and Matt Walsh.
For years, Electus had been looking to bring a talent management company into the fold, which would provide it with access to top creative auspices. Meanwhile, aligning with Electus would allow PYE to grow its global distribution and digital footprint. Electus has an established worldwide distribution operation as well as presence in the comedy digital space via Electus Digital, which absorbed IAC’s CollegeHumor Media.
Addressing the parting of the Principato Young partnership, Young said: “I am incredibly grateful to have been Peter’s partner for seventeen years. We worked with amazing people to build this company, and it was one of the best experiences of my life. I will miss them, and I can’t wait to watch their future success.”
Added Principato: “I will be forever appreciative and proud of the 17 incredible years Paul and I worked together to build this company. I am very excited about this next phase of PYE. We have an unbelievably talented and passionate group of industry leaders on our team. Together, with Electus, we will continue to build and grow our business in order to be the very best on behalf of our uniquely original clients.”