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BET's Founder and Weinsteins Enter a Joint Movie Venture

July 14, 2006|From Bloomberg News

Black Entertainment Television founder Robert L. Johnson has formed a film company with Bob and Harvey Weinstein's Weinstein Co. to produce African American family comedies.

The joint venture, called Our Stories Films, will be based in Los Angeles and have offices in New York, Weinstein Co. and Johnson's RLJ Cos. said Thursday. JPMorgan Chase & Co. will back the venture with as much as $175 million in financing.

Johnson, who also owns a majority stake in the National Basketball Assn.'s Charlotte (N.C.) Bobcats, is diversifying his investments since selling BET to Viacom Inc. for $3 billion in 2001. The Weinstein brothers, who founded Walt Disney Co.'s Miramax Film Corp., are signing content and distribution deals as their New York-based film company, started in September, boosts production.

"This is a project that is long overdue in Hollywood," JPMorgan managing director John W. Miller said. Johnson has the ability to market the films to "urban-based consumers."

Johnson will run the company and Weinstein Co. will have an equity stake and distribute the films. Genius Products Inc. of San Diego will distribute DVDs.

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