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Redskins owner buys Dick Clark Productions

ENTERTAINMENT

The $175-million sale includes TV shows and a live-music library.

June 20, 2007|Josh Friedman | Times Staff Writer

Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder is playing offense in the entertainment industry, buying Dick Clark Productions Inc. in a deal valued at $175 million and planning to digitize the company's extensive library of live-music performances.

Snyder's private-equity firm, RedZone Capital, acquired a 60% stake in the Burbank-based company. Six Flags Inc., of which RedZone is the largest shareholder, took the rest.

The deal, announced Tuesday, gave Snyder, 43, control of a big cast of television shows -- including the "American Music Awards," "The Golden Globes," "American Bandstand" and "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve" -- as well as the live-music library.

"These are historic brands with fantastic footprints," Snyder said, likening them to TV broadcasts of NFL games and calling them "TiVo-proof, appointment viewing."

Hoping to leverage them, RedZone hired Creative Artists Agency to develop programming, concert, licensing and sponsorship deals.

Snyder, who bought the Redskins pro football team in 1999 for $800 million and co-founded RedZone in 2004, was named chairman of Six Flags in 2005. RedZone acquired the Johnny Rockets diner chain for an undisclosed amount in February, and Snyder recently made a multimillion-dollar investment in a film production company co-owned by actor Tom Cruise.

Under the terms of Tuesday's deal, Snyder will become chairman of Dick Clark Productions. Terry Bateman, the Redskins' chief marketing officer, will be chief executive.

Dick Clark Productions was founded in 1957 by the seemingly ageless entertainer, nicknamed "America's Oldest Teenager." Now 77, Clark said in a statement that the new owners would "bring energy and new direction to a company that has meant so much to me.... They have my full support."

The company eventually went public but was taken private in 2002 when Mosaic Media Group and other investors paid $140 million for it and its $65-million cash pile. Mandalay Entertainment Group bought a stake two years later.

For Six Flags, the investment in Dick Clark Productions underscores its move beyond roller coasters, CEO Mark Shapiro said.

"This is the next step in the evolution of Six Flags -- moving into the family entertainment space," said Shapiro, a former programming executive at ESPN and ABC.

Cross-promotional opportunities are plentiful, he said. Six Flags' concerts could be re-branded to promote the American Music Awards, for example, and during the New Year's countdown show, "I can see Dick or Ryan saying, 'Let's check in on Los Angeles at Magic Mountain, where such-and-such band is performing live.' "

Clark will continue to co-host the New Year's Eve show with Ryan Seacrest, Shapiro said.

There are also opportunities for Johnny Rockets, the chain of '50s-retro diners that got its start on Melrose Avenue, Snyder said, with "American Bandstand" videos a natural fit.

Snyder said technology could help RedZone find opportunities with Dick Clark Productions' "spectacular" library. The 877 hours of "American Bandstand" shows, including performances by the Rolling Stones, the Doors and the Jackson 5, could be digitized for delivery to iPods and other devices.

Other programs in the company's repertoire include the Fox television hit "So You Think You Can Dance" and the "Bloopers" TV shows.

Snyder said that Dick Clark Productions was "responsible for some of the most enduring brands in entertainment. This was a rare opportunity to acquire a powerhouse portfolio."

In trading after the deal was announced, Six Flags shares fell 11 cents to $6.40 on Tuesday.

josh.friedman@latimes.com

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Snyder's investments

Through RedZone Capital:

* Six Flags Inc. (largest shareholder)

* Johnny Rockets restaurant chain

* Red Zebra network of five East Coast sports radio stations

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Through First & Goal:

* Financing for actor Tom Cruise and his partner, producer Paula Wagner

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Source: Times research

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