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UrbanWorks' Clanagan Departs for Universal

2 Jun, 2005 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Jeff Clanagan, founder and president of UrbanWorks Entertainment, the 4-year-old unit of Thousand Oaks, Calif.-based Ventura Distribution, has resigned, effective immediately.

Clanagan has formed a separate company, Clanagan Media Group, which will acquire, produce and distribute urban content through a multi-year deal with Visual Entertainment, a Universal Music Group (UMG) home video unit and supply channel of third-party DVD releases.

Initial urban releases through Visual Entertainment are slated for October and November.

Visual Entertainment was launched last year by UMG as a business model to expand beyond the label's core music market and incorporate DVD and video games. The company shares manufacturing and distribution facilities with UMG.

Projects include distribution deals with independent studios and production companies, including Palm Pictures and Xenon Pictures; much in the same way Lions Gate and New Line distribute third-party content.

Other content distribution deals are expected shortly, according to Tom O'Malley, EVP and GM of Visual Entertainment, whom Clanagan reports to in Los Angeles.

UMG was not part of last year's merger between GE/NBC and Vivendi Universal Entertainment, and as such Visual Entertainment is not associated with Universal Studios Home Entertainment.

Clanagan said UMG's clout within the urban music market, including artists 50 Cent and Jay Z, among others, and strong distribution convinced him to expand his entrepreneurial spirit.

“I saw [Visual Entertainmment] in my career growth as the next step,” said Clanagan. “When you go into retail and UMG is the No. 1 distributor of urban product, it positions Visual Entertainment in a very unique place in the market. It creates a lot of leverage and opportunity to distribute urban DVD products.”

That said, Clanagan believes UrbanWorks will remain a successful company.

At deadline, representatives from Ventura and UrbanWorks were not available for comment.

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