Candle Media Undergoes Cost-Cutting Reorg

Candle Media, the fledging media company backed by private equity player Blackstone, is undergoing a restructure in order to cut costs.

Founded in 2021 by former Disney executives Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs, the venture made several splashy acquisitions – including Reese Witherspoon’s production label Hello Sunshine – at the offset. Flash forward three years, and free-spending content buyers have cratered back to earth (along with their individual stock prices).

Variety has confirmed that Mayer and Staggs have moved to consolidate their production businesses into two verticals: live-action production will now fall under Sarah Harden, CEO of Hello Sunshine, who will also retain her title at Witherspoon’s shop; and animation will now exist solely within Candle’s profitable MoonBug, the label behind family juggernaut “CocoMelon,” which airs on Netflix.

Details of cost cuts and potential job losses were not immediately clear. Mayer and Staggs first disclosed the new structure at a Semafor event last week. Harden’s new operation will be called Candle Studios. Her purview will include Hello Sunshine (producer of “The Morning Show” and “Little Fires Everywhere”) and the banners Exile, True Stories and Faraway Road (“Fauda”).

The new studios division will share resources like business affairs, legal, production services, facilities and equipment, as well as a coordinated sales and distribution process, targeting both domestic and international buyers.

“I’m thrilled to take on an expanded role within Candle Media, supporting the growth of these incredible business units and identifying new avenues for growth,” said Harden. “I am so proud of what we have built at Hello Sunshine and excited to continue in my role as CEO.”

The newly-consolidated Candle Studios will be in production on over 30 premium originals this year. Season 2 of “The Last Thing He Told Me,” Season 4 of “The Morning Show” and “Extreme Home Makeover” are all on deck.

At the Semafor talk, Mayer admitted to some unlucky timing when it came to doling out its $1 billion purse from Blackstone.

“We paid at the top of the market. Have the financials borne out the way we would like, to have to support the prices that we paid? Probably not,” he told the publication, before adding, “Talk to us in two or three years.”

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