NEW YORK, Jan. 24 /PRNewswire/ -- Key Brand Entertainment, Inc., a
private investment company dedicated exclusively to the development,
production and distribution of live theater, announced today that is has
acquired Live Nation, Inc.'s North American Theatrical Company. Key Brand
Entertainment is owned and controlled by British theater producer John
Gore. As part of the acquisition, the company will assume control of
Broadway Across America, the premier promoter and producer of live
theatrical events in the United States, and its Broadway Across Canada
subsidiary. Key Brand has also partnered with Dancap Productions, the
leading Canadian theater producer and Tokyo Broadcasting System, Inc., the
major Japanese television network, to tap the potential of the Canadian and
Japanese markets for live theatre.
Led by entertainment industry veteran Thomas B. McGrath, Key Brand
Entertainment intends to build on the Theatrical Company's significant
expertise and geographic reach to broaden its production platform while
simultaneously bringing some of Broadway's biggest hits to an expanded
number of cities across the United States, Canada and Japan. Broadway
Across America currently offers the finest national touring theatrical
productions, from Wicked to Disney's The Lion King through its extensive
network of more than 40 theatres in the United States and Canada. Last
year, the company sold more than 6.4 million tickets as the theater
industry continued its 20-year plus track record of growth.
Mr. McGrath and Mr. Gore, who will lead Key Brand Entertainment as
chairman and CEO respectively, both bring significant expertise building
successful business enterprises in the entertainment industry and are
committed to being personally involved in the company's growth going
"We are extremely pleased to be acquiring one of the theatrical
industry's most powerful franchises and look forward to providing the
financial and management stability needed to grow this company into the
future," Mr. Gore said. "We are dedicated to being the absolute best in
live theater, and will actively look to acquire intellectual properties
that can be developed into major new productions."
"I intend to contribute ardently to the health of this industry on
Broadway and in each city where our shows perform," Mr. Gore continued. "We
see our mission as providing indelible memories and electrifying
experiences that will both invigorate existing theatergoers and help
beguile new ones."
"The beauty of this transaction is it brings together people who have
an inexhaustible passion for the theater and those who have decades of
experience running large entertainment companies," Mr. McGrath said.
"Audiences across the country have shown an increasing appetite for the
best theatrical experiences Broadway has to offer, and we are committed to
delivering those to them. We are extremely eager to sit down with the top
creative talents on Broadway and develop original works that will captivate
audiences for years to come. In our increasingly virtual world there is
simply no substitute for a live performance."
Peter Schneider, former head of Walt Disney Theatrical, has agreed to
join the board.
As the Canadian member of Key Brand Entertainment, successful business
professional and Impresario Aubrey Dan, President of Dancap Productions
Inc., has agreed to serve as Chairman of Broadway Across Canada. "Toronto
has a long and rich tradition as a world center of great theater, which has
always been the cornerstone of our entertainment industry," said Mr. Dan.
"There is a hunger for great Broadway and West End productions here and
across the country that we will not only continue to provide, but we will
also make it a priority to showcase the vitality and power of Canadian
J.P. Morgan Chase and Aramid Entertainment Fund provided financing to
the transaction. Aramid Entertainment Fund is a Cayman Island-based
mezzanine fund which provides liquidity to producers and distributors of
entertainment in a variety of asset classes.
Aramid Chairman David Molner was instrumental in structuring the deal
and arranging the financing. "I am delighted to have been able to bring
together Live Nation and Key Brand in a superior financing structure. John
Gore and Tom McGrath are two of the entertainment industry's leading
executives and entrepreneurs whom I have had the pleasure of knowing and
working with for going on a decade," said Mr. Molner who is the founder and
managing director of Screen Capital International. SCI is a leading media
finance specialist, involved in all aspects of motion picture finance from
gap funding to tax credit discounting and over $6 billion in executed
Key Brand Entertainment will be headquartered in New York City. Former
Clear Channel Entertainment President of Theatrical Production, Beth
Williams, is being named Chief Operating Officer and Head of Production for
Key Brand. Steven Winton and David M. Anderson will continue to serve as
Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operating Officer, respectively, of
Broadway Across America. There are no current plans to change the Broadway
Across America staffing.
WITH THIS ACQUISITION, KEY BRAND ENTERTAINMENT ASSETS WILL INCLUDE:
-- Broadway Across America, the leading presenter of touring live theater
throughout North America. Broadway Across America presents Broadway
touring productions in 42 cities in North America and owns, operates
and/or manages eight venues including Boston's Colonial Theatre and
Charles Playhouse; Baltimore's Hippodrome Theatre; Toronto's Canon
Theatre and Panasonic Theatre; and Minneapolis' State Theatre, Orpheum
Theatre and Pantages Theatre. The company has over 265,000 annual
subscribers, 25 local presentational partners, 35 unique sponsors and
285 full-time employees.
-- Investments in 13 current and upcoming Broadway productions, eight
current U.S. touring productions and six West End and U.K. touring
-- Family Entertainment Producing Division currently represented by Dora
The Explorer and Go, Diego, Go - Live.
John Gore, 45, was educated at Harrow School where he became the first
pupil to ever direct a school production. He graduated in film and theater
from London University in 1987 and knew he was destined for a life in the
theater as his finals production of Joe Orton's What The Butler Saw
transferred straight into London's West End. Mr. Gore's producing and/or
directing credits on the West End include: Thunderbirds F.A.B. (produced
first in 1989, it became the most revived show in the history of the West
End in 2002 when it returned for the sixth time); Star Trek - the Lost
Voyage of the Enterprise; and Wallace & Gromit, the highest grossing
non-musical production in the West End. In 2005, John formed Key Brand
Entertainment, an entertainment investment company to handle his
shareholdings in all the Andrew Lloyd Webber catalog of shows including the
original productions of Cats and The Phantom Of The Opera. Key Brand Inc.
has a wide portfolio of investments including Sean Connery's production of
Art, the London production of Wicked and the recent Webber-produced revival
of The Sound Of Music. Since 1992 Mr. Gore has been a member of the Society
of London Theater. Mr. Gore will be based in New York City.
Thomas B. McGrath, lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two children.
Mr. McGrath is the Executive Chairman of Bug/Windswept Music, the largest
independent music publisher in the U.S. and Senior Managing Director of
Crossroads Media, a private-equity backed vehicle for acquisitions and
investments in the entertainment industries. Mr. McGrath's background
includes developing and growing businesses in over 20 countries, including
radio and cable TV networks in the UK and Europe; movie theaters throughout
the world; production of feature films and theatrical productions;
launching the divisions for Pay TV and Home Video at a major motion picture
studio and many other successful start-ups and operations.
Formerly, Mr. McGrath served as Executive Vice President of the Viacom
Entertainment Group and President of Paramount Enterprises. During Mr.
McGrath's tenure the Viacom Entertainment Group comprised Paramount
Pictures; Paramount Television, including Viacom Productions and Spelling
Productions; Paramount Parks; Viacom's motion picture theater operations;
Famous Players, UCI, Mann Theaters and Simon & Schuster; Embassy
Communications/Tandem-TAT; and Merv Griffin Productions. Led by Mr.
McGrath, the Viacom Consumer Products Group created production of numerous
stage musicals including Happy Days with Garry Marshall, Footloose on
Broadway, Irving Berlin's White Christmas and many others.
Prior to Viacom, Mr. McGrath was President of Time Warner International
Broadcasting and Senior Vice President, International New Business
Development at Time Warner's Home Box Office unit.
Mr. McGrath received a B.A. cum laude from Harvard University and an
MBA from Harvard Business School, where he was music director of the Hasty
Pudding, the Harvard University Band and other stage productions.
Peter Schneider has enjoyed a diverse theatrical career, from playing
an integral part in the off-off Broadway movement in the seventies while
directing productions at the WPA, Playwrights Horizon and Circle Rep., to
being the Managing Director of The St. Nicholas Theater, one of Chicago's
leading off-loop theatres, producing a wide variety of West End attractions
in London, and with his friend and colleague Thomas Schumacher, producing
the world premiere Broadway musicals The Lion King, which garnered six 1998
Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and Elton John and Tim Rice's Aida,
winner of 4 Tonys.
As President of Feature Animation and Chairman of the Studio for the
Walt Disney Company, he was responsible for creating and distributing over
50 movies, including Beauty and the Beast, Little Mermaid, Toy Story, The
Lion King, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Remember the Titans and Princess
Peter first came to Los Angeles to be the Associate Director of the
1984 Olympic Arts Festival. Peter now runs his own theatrical production
company and recently directed Julie Andrews in a live action / animation
short celebrating the 40th anniversary of Mary Poppins. He is married, has
two daughters and lives in Los Angeles.
Aubrey Dan, 44, is President and Founder of Dancap Private Equity Inc.
and Dancap Global Asset Management (www.dancap.ca) both companies invest
funds in diverse businesses around the globe. In 2007, Mr. Dan launched
Dancap Productions Inc. (www.dancaptickets.com), a commercial theatre
company dedicated to producing the best of Broadway-style theatre created
in collaboration with acclaimed artists and award-winning creative teams.
The company engages theatre lovers in Toronto and throughout Canada. Mr.
Dan co-produced URINETOWN: The Musical (2004), Ain't Misbehavin' (2005),
and Hair (2006) in Toronto with The Canadian Stage Company. He subsequently
formed a partnership with Marion J. Caffey of MariMo' Music, Inc., and
produced 3 Mo' Divas (2006) across North America.
On Broadway and internationally, Mr. Dan's producing and investment
credits include: Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Tom Stoppard's
Rock 'n' Roll, The Farnsworth Invention, Jersey Boys, Wicked, High
Fidelity, In The Heights, The Wedding Singer and The Pirate Queen. Dancap
Productions is also a strategic member of theatrical development and
production company Elephant Eye Theatrical who has a current slate of
projects that include: The Addams Family, Bruce Lee: Journey to the West
and Saved. Mr. Dan lives in Toronto, Canada with his wife Marla and their
Tokyo Broadcasting System, Inc., is a major television network
producing and televising new programs, dramas, sports and variety programs
on their 28- affiliate network, cable and satellite channels in Japan. TBS
also has a long history of presenting Broadway shows in Japan, including
Cabaret, Chicago, Rent, the Producers, Movin' Out and A Class Act. They are
building the new Akasaka ACT Theatre in Tokyo which will present its
inaugural production in March 2008.
For more information, please visit www.broadwayacrossamerica.com.
SOURCE Key Brand Entertainment, Inc.