The Second City comedy theater in Chicago.

The Second City comedy theater in Chicago. (Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

CHICAGO — According to a report in the Financial Times, Chicago’s famed comedy theater Second City is close to a deal that would see it sold to a private equity firm, ZMC, controlled by Strauss Zelnick. No price was disclosed and the paper noted that the deal was not yet done.

Zelnick is also the CEO of Take-Two, a video game company best known for “Grand Theft Auto,” published by its New York-based subsidiary, Rockstar Games.

Second City has not yet responded to a request for confirmation, but a source familiar with the company confirmed the talks. Second City put itself up for sale after Andrew Alexander, the co-owner of the company with D’Arcy Stuart, exited the company amid an internal reckoning involving issues of racial justice. A vocal group of former performers had stated a desire for the comedy theater to get new, progressive ownership.

The new owner, known for its leveraged buyouts, would not appear to fit that profile.

As with many private equity firms, ZMC, which was founded in 2001, has a reputation for cost-cutting in its acquisitions.

That said, it is likely to bring an infusion of capital and extensive experience with media and communication companies, especially in the digital space. Second City will join an active group of ZMC group of companies including 9 Story Media Group, AdThrive and CommentSold.

Zelnick is a former chairman of the CBS Corporation.

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