McGrath began his career in entertainment at Columbia Pictures Industries in 1980, where he ultimately became senior vice president of corporate development for the Coca-Cola Company's entertainment group after Coca-Cola acquired Columbia in 1982. While at Columbia he helped establish RCA Columbia Home Video, and engineered the creation of TriStar Pictures in the 1980s by joining Columbia, HBO and CBS. He led the acquisitions of Embassy Communications from TV producer Norman Lear and Merv Griffin productions, producers of Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!.
After two years as senior vice president, McGrath was named president and COO of Norman Lear's entertainment company Act III Communications in December 1987, serving in that role until 1990. While at Act III he helped grow its broadcast, publishing and exhibition operations, and worked on television station acquisitions and the financing of films including Stand By Me, The Princess Bride and Fried Green Tomatoes.
In the 1990s, McGrath was named President, International of Time Warner International Broadcasting. At Time Warner he created Classic FM, a national radio network in the UK; n-tv a German-language national cable news channel; and VIVA a national German music video channel.
McGrath led Viacom's acquisition of Paramount Pictures in the 1990s. He joined Viacom in 1994 as executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Viacom Entertainment Group. In February 2002, McGrath was named president of Paramount Enterprises, Viacom's newly formed division for non-studio entertainment properties, including Paramount Parks, Canadian cinema chain Famous Players, and United Cinemas International. He remained executive vice president and chief operating officer of Viacom Entertainment Group, roles he assumed in 1994 and held until 2004. While at Viacom, McGrath was involved in the adaptation of several Paramount films into musicals, including White Christmas, Footloose and Saturday Night Fever.
Key Brand Entertainment
From 2008 to 2013, McGrath served as chairman of Key Brand Entertainment, a producer and distributor of live theater, later renamed John Gore Organization. McGrath led the company's acquisition of Live Nation's theater division in 2008, including theater website Broadway.com and its group ticket sales division Theatre Direct and promoting and producing organization Broadway Across America. Through Broadway Across America, McGrath produced several Broadway shows, including the revivals of Promises, Promises in 2009, Hair in 2009, and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying in 2011. In 2013, McGrath joined with Broadway producer Kevin McCollum and film producer John Davis on a development deal with 20th Century Fox, in which they would identify properties from the Fox film library for adaptation into theater productions. Initial projects include Mrs. Doubtfire and The Devil Wears Prada. McGrath has received seven Tony Awards.
McGrath is the chief executive officer and chairman of Crossroads Media, a private equity firm that acquires music publishing catalogues. Working with Spectrum Equity Investors, he led the acquisitions of independent music publishing companies Bug Music in 2006 and Windswept Holdings in 2007. McGrath served as chairman of Bug Music through its sale to BMG in 2011.
McGrath was the chief operating officer of media company STX Entertainment from its formation in 2014 until May 2019. The company specializes in financing, developing, producing, marketing and distributing medium budget star-driven films. STX has produced and distributed such films as The Gift, Bad Moms, The Edge of Seventeen, The Foreigner, and Molly's Game. In April 2018 STX filed for an initial public offering on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. This was originally reported in 2017 with an estimated market value as high as $3.5bn±.