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US-Style Talent Agency in UK

Media finance company Ingenious Media is investing in the creation of a new talent agency, to be chaired by former Sky chief Tony Ball, that it hopes will be a major power broker in the British film and television businesses.

U.S. agencies like CAA and William Morris package acting, directing and writing talent into proposals they take to film studios and TV networks. In the U.K., where the business is still dominated by large organizations like BBC and ITV, agencies like Curtis Brown and PFD have less clout than their U.S. counterparts.

Ingenious Media, which financed Hotel Rwanda, is said to have raised as much as £250 million to establish the new agency.

The new company is apparently the brainchild of media entrepreneur and Ingenious Media chairman Patrick McKenna, who seeks to build an agency based more on the Hollywood model rather than a traditional British-style agency.

Chairing the new agency, which would be active mainly in so-called “progressive” sectors, like interactive and mobile TV and game development, would be Tony Ball, former head of BSkyB. Ball would be joined on the board by McKenna and Neil Blackley, a former media analyst with Merrill Lynch.