Actor/comedian Kevin Hart is making major moves with his two entertainment businesses. He will be merging his two companies, Hartbeat Productions and Laugh Out Loud. They will become a single comedy-centered entity called Hartbeat.
Hart also announced a $100 million investment by private equity firm Abry Partners. NBCUniversal’s Peacock, which signed a multi-year, first-look deal with Laugh Out Loud and acquired an equity stake in 2020, will stay on as a shareholder. Abry partner Nicolas Massard will join the Hartbeat board, Deadline reported.
Hartbeat plans to use its new funding to augment existing brands and franchises as well as create new properties capable of connecting with global audiences, a press release said. The company already has a wide range of projects set up on a host of digital platforms, streaming services and networks.
Hartbeat has three divisions: a studio for film and TV projects; a media unit dedicated to events, gaming, music publishing and a distribution network; and branded entertainment shop Pulse. Hart’s LOL! Network will continue to be the company’s flagship consumer brand in the new configuration.
Hart’s companies have racked up a long list of successful productions, including Netflix projects “Fatherhood” and “True Story,” the feature film hit “Night School,” “Die Hart,” which appears on Quibi-turned-Roku. There’s also the branded content venture with Lyft, “Lyft Legends,” along with podcasts. The FX series “Dave” is another HartBeat production. Hart is also behind Peacock’s viral hit “Olympic Highlights,” as well as the popular Hart-hosted talk show “Hart to Hart” on Peacock.
The company has some 60 projects currently in various stages of development with more than 15 business partners.
“The creation of Hartbeat and our capital raise with Abry represent a new era in comedy,” Hart said in a statement. “This all started out with a mission to keep the world laughing together. I’m so proud our teams have delivered on that, putting in the hard work to build the most innovative and inclusive comedic storytelling company.”
He continued, “In an industry that loves to say no and close doors, I’ve been bullish about forging our own path and using our success to open doors for others. With this merger and funding, we’re taking the new blueprint we’ve built in entertainment to the next level and creating opportunities for a new generation of comedic talent. I can’t wait to bring the world more comedians, experiences, and stories with humor and heart.”
The capital raise was led by Thai Randolph, who held the posts of president and COO of Laugh Out Loud and COO of Hartbeat Productions. Randolph was promoted to CEO of Hartbeat.
Hartbeat will continue to create vehicles for various comedians and actors. Current projects include: Amanda Seales’ “Smart, Funny & Black Radio” on Laugh Out Loud Radio on SiriusXM; “Meditate with Me” with Tiffany Haddish, Hasan Minhaj, Amanda Seales, Deon Cole (on Headspace); the Women Write Now, a Black women in film writers program, in partnership with Sundance; DL Hughley’s talk show, “DL Hughley: Uncut” (LOL! Network on Pluto); and producing and marketing experiences including Nick Cannon’s “Wild’ N Out” tour and “Shaq Comedy All-Star Jam,” among other projects.
Upcoming projects include “Me Time” for Netflix with Mark Wahlberg and Regina Hall, “Storytown” (HBO Max), Lift (Netflix), an action heist led by director F. Gary Gray, and “So Dumb It’s Criminal” with Snoop Dogg (Peacock).