Hollywood is on its knees — and Steve Cohen smells an opportunity.
The controversial hedge-fund boss — who’s been battling Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez to buy the Mets — is bankrolling a new entity that’s looking to poach top talent in an industry roiled by the coronavirus, sources told The Post.
The venture arm of Cohen’s Connecticut-based hedge fund Point72 is backing a coterie of agents from Hollywood’s top three agencies — WME, CAA and UTA — as Tinseltown grapples with massive furloughs and pay cuts that are expected to last the rest of the year, insiders said.
The new head of the Hollywood management and production company is Peter Micelli, a former CAA agent who decamped to Hasbro-owned production company Entertainment One two years ago. Micelli pitched Cohen and other investors on the startup even as he recruited former colleagues from CAA and its rivals to jump ship and work for him, one source said.
The size and terms of Cohen’s investment couldn’t immediately be learned, but with Hollywood production stalled by a combination of COVID-19 and a writers strike, Cohen, worth $14 billion, has a huge opportunity to grab talent at a discount, sources said.
“People are not making a lot of money right now so they may figure this is the time to take a shot,” an insider said of the departing agents from CAA, UTA and WME.
“He’s got an opportunity here, clearly,” a private-equity professional said of Cohen. “This guy clearly sold him on a plan, which is not easy when it comes to Steve Cohen. There must be some major upside here.”
The fledgling management production company has already recruited CAA agents David Bugliari, Michael Cooper, Mick Sullivan and Jack Whigham, as well as WME literary agent Rich Cook, UTA agents Mackenzie Roussos, Susie Fox, Chelsea McKinnies and Lucinda Moorhead.
Sources described the group of agents as “senior executives” that while “nice” and “friendly,” were not the killers scooping up A-list talent that runs Hollywood. With the exception of Bugliari, who represented Margot Robbie and Bradley Cooper directly, the agents have played more supporting roles with clients, the source said.
“They are a well-liked group of friends, but they don’t have big stars,” a source said of the new recruits.
Still, Hollywood insiders are eager to see which A-listers, if any, will sign on with the new management company. And sources are already predicting that cutthroat Hollywood competitors will use Cohen’s past scandals — which include getting barred from the financial industry for two years and watching his previous hedge fund implode amid insider-trading allegations — to bad-mouth his new venture around town.
“I can say with 100-percent certainty that they will use Cohen’s [past] against him,” one agency source said.
“Besides Michael Milken, this guy is known for one of the biggest insider trading cases in history,” a second Hollywood talent source said.
Unlike Milken, Cohen was not convicted of any crime, and he has denied personal wrongdoing.
Several sources also wondered how comfortable left-leaning Hollywood types will be working with the new management firm “given Steven Cohen’s deep Trump support.”