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Endeavor Audio’s First Public Project

Blackout, featuring Rami Malek.

Half a year after announcing itself via New York Times write-up — a flashy, if not expected, press move for certain types of power — Endeavor Audio has released its first original project: Blackout, a fiction podcast whose primary draw is the fact that it stars Rami Malek in the headlining role. The podcast is being pitched as Malek’s first piece of media out since winning the Academy Award for Best Actor last month.

In case you need a refresher on Endeavor Audio: it’s a new division from Endeavor, the entertainment conglomerate fronted by the legendary talent Ari Emanuel, that’s meant to operate as an end-to-end audio company — from development to financing to production to monetization and so on. One of the big hooks during Endeavor Audio’s coming out party was a development partnership with Dick Wolf, he of Law and Order fame, who will be producing a few podcast projects for the division. Endeavor Audio’s adventures should be thought of as separate from WME’s adventures on the talent agenting side (already super successful on its own terms, repping folks like Malcolm Gladwell and the Crooked Media folks); they are two different kinds of businesses.

One might be tempted to think about it as a standard podcast network, and indeed, Endeavor Audio certainly behaves like one in some regards. For example, in addition to developing original content vis a vis Blackout, it’s also in the business of distributing and monetizing third-party publishers that it does not own, like the Parcast network. But I imagine the way Endeavor Audio sees its big differentiating dimension lies in its position as part of a larger, powerful, multi-tentacled Hollywood conglomerate with pathways to a wide galaxy of ~talent~ and ~celebrity~. Thinking being, those tentacles can be leveraged to develop a system Endeavor Audio can have full control over the IP-pipeline: they can receive build project packages themselves, vet those packages using podcasting as the “testing ground” to identify bankable projects (after all, everybody keeps pointing out that a podcast is cheaper to make than a TV show, which is both true but also very commoditizing), and then kicking those bankable projects up the chain to more lucrative adaptation format. It’s a kind of vertical integration, if you will.

Anyway, the key figure you probably want to track is Moses Soyoola, a former Panoply business executive who currently serves as Endeavor Audio’s GM.

I suppose we should spend some time actually talking about the content. The first two episodes of Blackout dropped on Tuesday, and I’m still processing. In any case, it seems to me that the creative vision can be articulated in the following question: what if Homecoming, but like, a whole business?

I’ll probably write a review for Vulture on the podcast at some point, if only to work through ideas around the Hollywood-podcast-intimacy-authenticity nexus.