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Qintex Basks in Success of TV's 'Lonesome Dove'

February 23, 1989|AL DELUGACH | Times Staff Writer

A sage once said that success has many fathers, while failure is an orphan. Qintex Entertainment is one of several proud fathers of the smash television miniseries "Lonesome Dove."

David Evans, chief executive of the Australian-controlled independent production firm in Beverly Hills, said Wednesday that the Old West drama has "really put us on the map" with the TV industry in Europe, as well as in this country.

Qintex is a certified parent of "Lonesome Dove" along with its co-producer, Motown Productions, and with CBS. The network's broadcast of the four-part, eight-hour production won the biggest viewing audience for a miniseries in the past five years. The series, adapted from Larry McMurtry's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, featured a cast led by Robert Duvall.

Sense of Risk

Qintex invested $4 million and guaranteed completion on the $20-million production, with CBS putting up the rest of the cost.

"We felt a substantial sense of risk," Evans said, "but we were a brand-new company emerging and felt we had to take the risk."

The gamble paid off. Jonathan D. Lloyd, Qintex executive vice president, figures that the company has a $6.5-million clear profit so far from its deal with Motown. Further, he said, Qintex got copyright ownership of the miniseries and worldwide distribution rights in all media.

The project "couldn't have been better timed," said Evans, an Australian. "It established us as a force in the business." He said he hopes that "Lonesome Dove" may herald a turn away from trash toward high-quality broadcasting fare not to mention reviving the previously waning hopes for the miniseries form.

Until now, the Qintex name has been little known to the public since it was formed last April from the consolidation of Hal Roach Studios with veteran producer Robert Halmi Inc. Qintex Australia Ltd., a media, communications and resorts organization headed by Christopher Skase, owns 43% of the Beverly Hills firm.

The industry had not "taken us as seriously as maybe it should have," Evans said. But he expects a better reception when Qintex takes future projects to the networks and cable companies. The change has already been felt in Britain, where the initially reluctant networks got into a bidding contest for "Lonesome Dove" after seeing its U.S. debut earlier this month.

Predictions of Failure

With the recent merger of Lorimar Telepictures into Warner Communications, Qintex has laid claim to the title of largest U.S. independent television producer, with $100 million in revenue expected this year.

Recounting the firm's history with "Lonesome Dove," Evans said the Hal Roach merger was pending when CBS asked Robert Halmi Inc. if it would provide financial backing and co-produce the project with Motown, which had optioned rights to the McMurtry novel for a modest $50,000 before it was published.

"Nobody here or at CBS or Motown had any idea it would go so well," said Evans, and elsewhere they heard predictions of outright failure.

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