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. (Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20080124/NYTH091-a
http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20080124/NYTH091-b ) 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 forward. "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 talent." 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 transactions. 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 productions. -- Family Entertainment Producing Division currently represented by Dora The Explorer and Go, Diego, Go - Live. Biographies 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 Diaries. 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 two children. 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.