MRC, the independent film and TV studio behind hits like “Poker Face” and “Knives Out,” has found a new leader, elevating the company’s veteran chief business officer Scott Tenley to CEO.
MRC’s founders (and now-former co-CEOs) Modi Wiczyk and Asif Satchu will become chairmen as part of Tenley’s promotion. Tenley will now oversee all film and television divisions at MRC, as well as its strategic partnerships, legal, financial, and HR departments. He’ll also look for “growth opportunities” for the studio, MRC said on Thursday.
Tenley has been the driving force behind MRC’s latest hot streak. Way back in 2012 he sold “House of Cards” to Netflix, but more recently he shepherded the deals for “Poker Face” to Peacock and “Fair Play” to Netflix for $20 million (Sundance 2023’s biggest deal). Tenley also pushed projects to Amazon, like Emerald Fennell’s upcoming film “Saltburn,” the second season of “The Terminal List,” and even the Academy of Country Music Awards (the ACMs). Seven months ago, he also navigated the company’s spin from Valence Media, which made MRC an independent studio.
“Scott Tenley has a hand in nearly every single deal, every single accomplishment at MRC over the past 16 years. He has blazed trails in almost every facet of our business, from selling ‘House of Cards’ to Netflix to setting up The Academy of Country Music Awards on Amazon Prime Video, to ever-evolving credit facilities, equity arrangements and beyond,” Wiczyk and Satchu said in a statement. “But Scott is so much more than a deal person: he is our cultural heart, our loudest cheerleader, our most ferocious defender, and our ambassador to the community. Scott is an agent of change and the business cannot succeed without him. He is the conductor that brings every division together and redefines collaboration that you don’t see anywhere else. In an industry often beset by selfishness and self-interest, Scott makes it fun and safe to share.”
“For the last 16 years I have been so lucky to be surrounded by the smartest and hardest working colleagues as we have built an amazing business, working with the best and brightest artists and storytellers,” Tenley added. “In the simplest terms, like them, I find joy in making great movies and TV shows – it is what we do best at MRC. I am so grateful to Modi, Asif and all of my colleagues and partners who have given me the rarest of opportunities to play a small part in making iconic films and TV shows.”
One of Tenley’s other highlights in his 16 years with MRC was in rescuing the sixth season of “House of Cards” after star Kevin Spacey was accused of sexual misconduct. Following the fallout, Tenley was pivotal in landing a $31 million judgement award against Spacey for breach of contract.
A graduate of The University of Pennsylvania and the UCLA School of Law, Tenley arrived at MRC in 2007 following a run as a corporate entertainment attorney in private practice at Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP in Los Angeles. From 2007 to 2015 he served as president of business and legal affairs and operations; from 2015 to 2019 he was COO before making chief business officer of Valence Media/MRC.
Up next for MRC on the film side is the horror-comedy “The Blackening” being released by Lionsgate this June, and “Self Reliance” from director Jake Johnson, which debuts at SXSW this month.