January 16, 2021

Why Is #Resistance Hero Alyssa Milano’s Husband Dave Bugliari Joining Forces With Trump Booster Steve Cohen?

In August, a dozen high-profile Hollywood agents staged an exodus. In the cutthroat ecosystem of entertainment agencies, it is not uncommon for agents to poach clients or leave to start other firms. But the resignations came suddenly, en masse, and among agents at the height of their power—representing Bradley Cooper, Margot Robbie, Tiffany Haddish, and Zac Efron between them—at a moment of unrelenting furloughs and layoffs. It sounded a warning shot unheard since 1995, when Ari Emanuel and three colleagues raided their own offices at ICM in the middle of the night to launch its competitor, Endeavor.

“This is new,” said entertainment lawyer Lindsey Conner. “It’s the first time a bunch of agents have left a bunch of different agencies all at the same time. I think that’s because the agencies are under a lot of pressure right now.”

The reason for the mass defection soon became clear. In March, a faction of investors, led by ex-CAA agent Peter Micelli, had plotted a new management firm in secret. Under a host of different names (first Moxie Media, now Range Media Partners), the company planned to take advantage of the weakened agency economy, which a leaked pitch deck described as “in free fall,” by debuting a new management model. Their pitch: pair ultra-wealthy celebrities with private equity funders and turn them into brand empires—in the mold of Reese Witherspoon’s production company, Hello Sunshine, and Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop.

The controversy compounded when Range disclosed its investors. Among its 1-percenter financiers—which include former New York Knicks coach David Fizdale, Microsoft executive Mich Mathews-Spradlin, and Grubhub CEO Matt Maloney, whose company has fiercely defended its right to not pay minimum wage or grant paid sick leave during the pandemic—was hedge fund billionaire and present owner of the New York Mets, Steve Cohen.

Cohen’s reputation, as a gonzo short-term investor who converted his low-risk threshold and tolerance for legal gray areas into a fortune of $14.1 billion, precedes him. The Bobby Axelrod character on Billions is based on Cohen. In 2013, his former hedge fund pleaded guilty in one of the largest insider-trading investigations in SEC history, forcing the firm to close and landing Cohen with a two-year trading suspension. In 2018, after he returned to trading, Cohen contracted controversial surveillance firm Palantir Technologies, Inc. to keep tabs on employees of his new fund, Point72 Ventures. Unsurprisingly, for at least 16 years—dating back to his support for George W. Bush’s re-election campaign—Cohen has poured millions into right-wing causes, including a $3 million contribution to Chris Christie’s failed presidential run and $1 million to Donald Trump’s inaugural committee. (Kevin O’Connor, the general counsel for Cohen’s investment firm, served on Trump’s transition team.)

Cohen’s political alignments stand at odds with Range’s star agent Dave Bugliari, the husband of self-styled #Resistance poster child Alyssa Milano.

Cohen’s political alignments stand at odds with Range’s star agent Dave Bugliari, the husband of self-styled #Resistance poster child Alyssa Milano. In early September, the actress, who endorsed Joe Biden for president in March, tweeted that the “entire @GOP should be tried for treason.” Previously, Milano campaigned for Sen. Doug Jones and would-be Georgia congressman Jon Ossoff during their tight races in 2017. Campaign finance records show, by contrast, that the same year, Cohen donated $3 million to two super PACs dedicated to maintaining Republican control of Congress and nearly $90,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee.

The following year, Cohen donated $100,000 to the Republican National Committee, $1,100 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee; $2,700 to Texas GOP Sen. John Cornyn; $5,000 to Alamo PAC, which supports right-wing candidates like Mitch McConnell and Tom Cotton; and $5,000 to the Great America Committee—Vice President Mike Pence’s super PAC.

This year, Cohen has refrained from presidential contributions, and a representative for Range Media pointed out that he has intermittently donated to Democratic causes—most consistently to Joe Lieberman. “Steve was THE BIGGEST fundraiser for Democrat Chris Dodd’s 2008 presidential campaign,” the spokesperson told The Daily Beast. In fact, according to the Financial Times, it was employees at Cohen’s later-indicted firm, S.A.C. Capital, that collectively made the largest donation (about $209,000). Open Secrets records show Cohen himself donated $6,900.

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