Viardo signs up Madonna's Maverick in production-promotion deal

LOS ANGELES: The Viardo Agency has signed Madonna's Maverick Films as a PR client, but will also represent the film- and video-production company for intellectual-property rights and production representation.

LOS ANGELES: The Viardo Agency has signed Madonna's Maverick Films as a PR client, but will also represent the film- and video-production company for intellectual-property rights and production representation.

The deal highlights a growing trend in the entertainment industry to blend marketing and business disciplines to obtain deals that give participants greater creative and financial control.

Phil Viardo, president and founder of the agency, also signed a "first look" deal with Maverick, meaning the company will have the right to review for purchase any film projects Viardo creates, prior to shopping them to other production companies.

Viardo and Maverick currently have two feature films in production. One is based on a video game property and the other is a drama. In addition to handling publicity for the projects, Viardo will also receive a producer's credit.

Viardo said he decided to create the expanded PR agency concept after finding that the entertainment industry did not take him seriously on the production side because he was pigeonholed as a PR person.

"It was frustrating," he said. "I couldn't actually make the deal happen.

I would get to selling point, but because I was 'only' a publicist, I was completely overlooked for credits. I realized there is a need for an entity to be created where you can fill all those facets - using publicity as a hub, and expanding into intellectual-product management."

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