G.-J. pairs with National Video

Venture could generate $35 to $50 mil over three years

NEW YORK — Grosso-Jacobson Communications Corp. and the facilities company National Video Center have set up a joint venture that could generate between $35 million and $50 million in TV series and TV movies over the next three years.

Larry Jacobson, a principal of Grosso-Jacobson, says the partnership with National Video will whip up fresh cash that will fuel the development for several projects.

  • “Parole Board,” a half-hour series aimed at five-a-week firstrun syndication in 2001. It features actual edited parole-board hearings, preceded by re-enactments of the crime that put the prisoner behind bars.

  • “The Strangers,” a weekly action hour that Jacobson says will marry “The X-Files” to a 19th century Western. The L.A.-based Team Entertainment Group will co-produce the series, the first 22 hours of which will be available as early as the first quarter of 2001.

  • “The Red Phone,” a pair of two-hour TV movies centering on an international anti-terrorist organization. G.-J.’s production partner is the German company ProSieben. Casting is about to begin, Jacobson said, and the producers have already chosen locations in Germany, Italy, Austria and Malta.

  • “Signal 67” (working title), a weekly one-hour action drama set during the 1960s about a New Jersey state-police unit trying to cope with the revolutionary changes taking place in the society. G.-J. is aiming this series at a broadcast network or a cable network.

  • Two TV movies for the USA Network based on the Mary Higgins Clark bestselling suspense novels “Loves Music, Loves to Dance” and “Pretend You Do Not See Her.”

Over the years, Grosso-Jacobson has produced such TV series as “The Big Easy” and “Counterstrike” for USA, “Top Cops” for CBS and “Secret Service” for NBC.

Disappointing merger

The company hit a snag, Jacobson said, when, in September 1997 the Producers Entertainment Group bought G.-J. for $8 million. He said the merger never delivered what the partners hoped for and they dissolved it last summer.

Russell Best, VP and G.M. of National Entertainment, the National Video division that will work directly with G.-J., says, “This deal puts us on the map.”

G.-J. will be able to focus more on development and filming of movies and series, Best said, because National Entertainment will take care of all of the logistics of the physical production and post-production.

National Video has facilities in New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Atlanta and Westport, Conn., and the company plans to take over the running of G.-J.’s 70,000-square-foot sound stage and production facility in Toronto.

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