Bethesda entrepreneur ventures into filmmaking

After magazine publishing (Washington Dossier) and health clubs (Sport & Health), local entrepreneur Jonathan Adler has started his third act: movie and book publishing mogul.

The 58-year-old Bethesda resident has founded Grey Eagle Films to produce television and theater films of his father’s portfolio of 35 books, screenplays and plays.

He is the son of famed author Warren Adler (“The War of the Roses”), who ran a Washington advertising firm. Senior Adler, 86, resides in New York City and has been writing full time for the past four decades.

Grey Eagle is initially capitalized with several million dollars from investors, said Adler, a graduate of Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School.

Grey Eagle has several projects already in the works, including a “War of the Roses” sequel called “The War of the Roses: The Children.” There is also a feature film on the way called “Target Churchill,” based on a book by Warren Adler and James Humes.

Adler plans to publish six of his father’s books this year, all of them e-books. Three of the six have not been previously published.

Adler said creating a film company isn’t that different from publishing or running health clubs.

“It’s having the right people on your team and having the money to develop good projects.”

His writing team includes Alex McAulay, who served as a writer on the HBO series “Eastbound and Down.” A television project called “Capital Crimes,” based on a series of Adler’s mystery novels, will be written by Eric Overmyer from the HBO series “The Wire” and “Treme.”

The Buzz hears:

A couple of D.C.-centric perspectives from last week’s announcement of a $10 million investment in Virtru, a Dupont Circle cybersecurity company started by two brothers, one who is a former National Security Agency Internet specialist.

David Cowan, founder of VeriSign and a partner at Bessemer Venture Partners, which invested $6 million in Virtru: “We like funding teams out of the intelligence community of the United States. We find they have a great pedigree of security skills. So we have an operating partner in Washington, D.C named Nate Fick. And with Nate Fick, we keep eyes out for the best cyber talent.

John Ackerly, chief executive and co-founder of Virtru: “Washington’s pool of talent and engineers who understand cryptology and security is unmatched globally. And you are able to walk down the street and tap into the ecosystem of policy experts like the [American Civil Liberties Union] or the Center for Democracy and Technology.”

District-based Venga, the Winston Lord-Sam von Pollaro restaurant data company, has a lot in common with OpenTable, the publicly traded restaurant booking company that is about to be bought by travel giant Priceline. The two share many restaurant clients. The technologies mesh. They talk all the time. Is a marriage in the offing? Von Pollaro did not return a telephone message seeking comment. Lord, who was in Brazil last week for the World Cup, said he had no comment. Venga, founded in 2010, earlier this year announced it had closed a $1 million Series A round led by Militello Capital and several other food industry executives, including Jose AndresThink Food Group.

Protein Bar will open its fourth Washington location Wednesday at 17th and K streets NW. The Chicago-based fast-casual chain has 15 stores planned for the Washington region, according to founder Matt Matros. The company is funding its expansion with a $25 million investment last fall from Catterton Partners, a Greenwich, Conn.-based private equity firm.

Matros, who came up with the concept in 2009 after losing 60 pounds, said “we are looking for more sites. I have been touring the Washington market with real estate brokers, and we would love to be in Rosslyn, Capitol Hill, Bethesda and more downtown.” Matros said the stores are turning a profit. One of the keys so far is repeat business, with regulars “who come several times a week. We call them super-fans.”

Capital City Nurses, which provides nursing and assistance to seniors, opened a facility in Bethesda called the Cottage at Curry Manor. It is the company’s first facility and is a big break with its past practices of providing in-home care for seniors in the Baltimore-Washington area. The company was founded in 1976 by Susan Rodgers, who took care of the elderly as a nurse. She also experienced it first-hand, when caring for a parent. It has 25 employees and is based in Bethesda. Nurses will be hosting an open house from 4 to 7 p.m., June 24.

Factoid of the week

600That’s the number of chief executives that have attended the 80 networking events hosted by Bethesda-based CEO Boardroom in the past 20 months. CEO Boardroom, which costs $12,500 a year to join, connects business leaders around the area. The company was founded by Steven Abramowitz, a former financial consultant and investment banker who lives in North Bethesda. Its board of advisers includes Bob Pincus of Eagle Bank, S. Tien Wong of Tech 2000 and April Young, managing director at Hercules Technology Growth Capital.

Thomas Heath is a local business reporter and columnist, writing about entrepreneurs and various companies big and small in the Washington Metropolitan area. Previously, he wrote about the business of sports for The Post’s sports section for most of a decade.
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