Howie Mandel along with ICM Partners (the talent agency that represents him) announced Wednesday that they had finalized a deal to purchase the Just for Laughs comedy festival in Montreal as well as its Toronto, Vancouver and Sydney events. The investment group led by Mandel and ICM reportedly beat out six other groups for the festival though the price of the deal has not been revealed by any of the included parties.
— Just For Laughs (@justforlaughs) March 22, 2018
ICM and Mandel have confirmed that operations and the festival itself will remain in Montreal and the current staff will be kept on. The entire outfit went on the market last October after founder and former president Gilbert Rozon was accused of sexual misconduct and forced to step down.
“I have performed at JFL many times over the last 10 years, and I have nothing but love for this event,” Mandel said in a statement, “I consider it to be a cultural treasure not only for the Montreal and Quebec communities, but also for Canada; and I am very excited to be part of this group of investors that will ensure the Festival’s long term success, while growing their global comedy brand.”
The investor group has said it will be expanding the Just for Laughs brand with more live events, media deals and possibly new streaming options for their catalogue of content. While pursuing those opportunities, ICM managing director Chris Silbermann assured that the Montreal roots of the festival and its operations will not be altered.
ICM Partners hopes to make some Canadian additions to the festival’s investor group in the coming weeks. There is also speculation that ICM Partners’ direct involvement in JFL will mean an influx of A-list American talent featuring in the already world-renowned festival. In addition to Mandel, ICM Partners represents the likes of Ellen DeGeneres, Chris Rock, Kevin Hart and Jerry Seinfeld.
“This strategic alliance with Howie Mandel and ICM Partners is the best of all worlds for JFL, and ensures it has the resources to continue to thrive,” said Just for Laughs chairman Pierre-Marc Johnson.
Looks like Howie Mandel is going to be a busy man. On top of his ongoing America’s Got Talent commitment and new investor responsibilities, CNBC announced earlier this month that they have green-lit a revival of Deal or No Deal with Mandel returning as host.