Nellie Andreeva

Peter Guber’s Mandalay Entertainment Group is expanding its presence in sports entertainment. Film and television producer/director Mike Tollin has partnered with Mandalay’s chairman and CEO Guber and vice chairman and COO Paul Schaeffer to form Mandalay Sports Media. Like Guber’s other companies, MSM is self-financed. It will develop and produce sports-themed entertainment programming for distribution across multiple platforms including film, television, mobile, and digital. MSM already has several entertainment projects in development with ESPN, Turner Sports, New Line Cinema, and Incognito Pictures, among other distribution partners. While creating content and intellectual property is key, “building enterprise value” is equally important, said Guber. Also joining MSM as a founding partner is CAA Sports, while Funny Or Die president and CEO Dick Glover, who has an extensive sports media background, including a seven-year stint at ESPN, will serve as a board member.

While MSM will function independently, it will likely share resources with Mandalay’s existing sports entities, Mandalay Professional Sports, which co-owns The Golden States Warriors, and Mandalay Baseball, a top owner/operator in Minor League Baseball. Both Guber and Tollin have long history in sports and sports entertainment. While Guber’s background is more on the entrepreneurial side and Tollin’s on the creative side, they both have produced a slew of sports-themed features, something Tollin plans to make a priority for MSM. Because of the increased importance of international box-office and the difficulty of translating American sports to non-American audiences, U.S. studios have been reluctant to greenlight such films. “One of the goals (of MSM) is to create  a new economic model for sports movies and revive them,” Tollin said. The company’s portfolio will run the gamut from “sports movies to scripted and unscripted series, documentaries, Websites and branded content,” he added. “We envision MSM as a studio in sports media.” Tollin, who started off in sports documentaries, has a 30-year association with the MLB, including currently executive producing the Showtime docu-series The Franchise. “Mike and Peter are exceptional producers who have been valuable collaborators with ESPN and ESPN Films,” said ESPN president John Skipper.  “We look forward to continuing that relationship and exploring new ideas with them going forward.”

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