The Ultimate Fighting Championship has grown from cult favorite to mainstream draw for fans of mixed martial arts in the past five years. With UFC-based cable series “The Ultimate Fighter” bolstering Spike’s ratings since 2005, the UFC is poised to hit a new plateau in 2007 with a run in broadcast syndication.
Endeavor agent Klein is the quiet force that has been strategizing and brokering media deals for the UFC. The company’s deal with Spike may be one of the largest original production deals in television history. Outside analysts told TVWeek that the final value of the production agreement is estimated to be between $75 million and $100 million over the course of the three-year contract. Mr. Klein now has the company poised to enter syndication through a deal with Trifecta, and the UFC brand continues to be in negotiations for a potential broadcast network deal down the road.
“The UFC is an amazing brand; it’s a brand that men 18 to 34 flock to,” said Mr. Klein. “To lead the team that came in and said, `Let’s take what they have on TV and expand it out in order to help the UFC realize their goal to expand all over the world’ is a fantastic thing. Deals of this sort are based on the leverage you have with a specific brand. It was the UFC’s brand that got them there, I just helped them realize their dream.”
The agent recently packaged deals that will put Shaquille O’Neal on the air for ABC in “Shaq Attacks Obesity,” brought “Wedding Crashers” to NBC, “The Agency” to VH1, as well as a slew of other unscripted series poised to launch in 2007. All of these series figure to be a primary focus for their respective outlets in the next 12 months.
” Klein is the kind of agent who could end up with a huge job at a network,” said Ted Harbert, president of E! Networks, which has televised series such as “House of Carters,” packaged by Mr. Klein. “He has great instincts, is honest, decent and fast, and that is the most you can ask for from an agent. Any good agent is assertive and aggressive. does it without being a pain in the ass.”
Mr. Klein joined Endeavor as an agent in the alternative television department in 2002 after leaving International Creative Management, where he served as VP of new media. A native of New Jersey, he moved to Los Angeles in 1992 to pursue a career in entertainment. After college, he worked as a production assistant for Peter Engel Productions and as an assistant to the producers on several series.
“Endeavor is a company that literally works as a team effort,” Mr. Klein said. “I can call any client within Endeavor and say I have this idea for you, let’s talk about the possibilities
“With all the new challenges in the television industry, being able to do that is especially important because there are a lot of opportunities still out there, from the Internet to mobile, where we can expand our client’s business and find new ways to structure deals.”
As Mr. Klein ascends through the ranks at Endeavor, his work has not gone unnoticed by agency partners.
” Klein possesses an incredibly rare mix of brains, tremendous work ethic, relentless doggedness, passion for clients, creativity and teamwork,” said Endeavor partner Sean Perry. “These attributes and skills not only contribute to who is now, but make the sky his only limit in the future.”