Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios has acquired a 55% interest in One Three Media and LightWorkers Media, two top producers of reality and faith-based programming, which it will then consolidate in a new venture to be called United Artists Media.
One Three Media and LightWorkers Media were formed by actress and producer Roma Downey, reality show producer Mark Burnett and Hearst Entertainment. Burnett will serve as CEO and Downey will be president of LightWorkers Media, which will become the faith and family division of UAMG.
United Artists Media Group will focus on developing, producing and financing premium content across all platforms, including scripted and non-scripted television programs, motion pictures and digital content.
“Mark and Roma are without a doubt the most successful and dominant players in unscripted television and faith-based content and we are excited to be distributing UAMG content worldwide." said MGM chairman Gary Barber in a statement. "Together with Hearst Entertainment’s vast array of media assets and knowledge, MGM could not have wished for better partners to continue to grow the MGM business of creating premium content for distribution across multiple platforms. Additionally, we are extremely optimistic about the launch of an exciting new Over-The-Top (OTT) faith-based channel. Finally, I am truly honored to welcome Mark, Roma, Steve and their entire team into the MGM family."
Burnett pioneered the reality television genre with Survivor and The Apprentice and maintained that track record with more recent hits Shark Tank and The Voice.
"Roma and I are absolutely thrilled to be in business with Gary Barber and MGM while at the same time maintaining our amazing relationship with Steve and Hearst," Burnett said in a statement. "I am honored to become the CEO of United Artists Media Group. Together we look forward to growing our television, film and digital business while also creating a whole new platform of entertainment."
Downey, who shot to fame as the star of Touched By An Angel, formed LightWorkers Media with Burnett and produced miniseries The Bible – which shattered viewership records during its 2013 airing on History Channel.
"When Mark and I created LightWorkers Media, our mission was to bring faith and family entertainment to a large audience and now this new endeavor will allow us even greater growth and success as the faith/family division of UA Media Group," Downey said in a statement.
The planned launch of the OTT channel will hopefully create a singular destination for audiences of faith worldwide and on every screen. Programming will consist of a mix of original new content, premium film and television catalog titles, curated Christian music videos, regional and national congregation portals, sermons from worldwide religious leaders and user-created short-form faith-based videos.
"We’ll work together with Gary and the MGM team in all aspects of our business,” One Three Media and LightWorkers Media chief operating officer Brian Edwards said in a statement. “Mark and Roma will continue to develop all UAMG projects, while we work closely with MGM’s distribution, marketing and other business groups, to achieve a seamless business structure.”
Edwards will retain his role in the new company.
Burnett recently announced a straight to series deal with ABC for a new game show 500 Questions. Also previously announced, his first show in partnership with the El Rey Network, Lucha Underground, and TNT's OnThe Menu will both premiere in October. Burnett and Downey have also started principal photography on the NBC miniseries A.D. as well as CBS' The Dovekeepers through their LightWorkers Media banner. The couple is also currently in pre-production on the epic feature film Ben-Hur with MGM and Paramount. They also have the feature film Little Boy which Open Road recently acquired.
The United Artists banner was famously first launched in 1919 by Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and D.W. Griffith.
Chris Brearton led the legal team at O’Melveny & Myers that negotiated the deal on behalf of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios.
Roma Downey and Mark Burnett were advised by the law firm of Stroock & Stroock & Lavan, led by Matthew Thompson. Downey, Burnett and Hearst were advised by Allen & Company LLC.