Site prepares for relaunch

Hollywood Media toppers Mitchell Rubenstein and Laurie Silvers have spun Hollywood.com into a private company as the showbiz site prepares for a relaunch.

Rubenstein’s and Silver’s R&S Investments has given Hollywood Media, which will now primarily concentrate on online ticketing, $1 million in cash and will pay an expected $9 million more based on the site’s revenue.

Rubenstein, Hollywood Media’s chair and CEO, cast the move as one that “suits both parties’ needs,” noting that Hollywood.com had been the only part of the company that operated as an advertising-dependent publisher.

The Hollywood.com portion of the company generated 4% of Hollywood Media’s total revenue during the year ended June 30, operating under a net loss of $2.5 million.

“By segregating it out and taking it private, it will have the opportunity to be lean and grow without the distractions of a public company,” Rubenstein said. “We just think it’s a longer-term player in terms of growth cycle.”

The relaunch, skedded for a few weeks from now, will ratchet up the site’s social networking and video components.

“It’s much more than a facelift,” said Hollywood.com prexy and chief operating officer Kevin Davis, who promises the content will target a younger-skewing aud without delving too heavily into scurrilous gossip.

There are a growing number of entertainment sites competing online, and more on the way. Several media heavyweights, most notably Tina Brown and Bonnie Fuller, are about to jump into the fray with new sites, joining consumer oriented sites such as TMZ and Celebuzz.com.

Rubenstein and Silver, who are married, earlier co-founded Sci Fi Channel, with Silver serving as Hollywood Media’s prexy. The company, based in Florida, generates income from its Broadway ticketing site, Broadway.com, and owns 26% of MovieTickets.com. It also owns U.K.-based CinemasOnline. Company sold Baseline StudioSystems to the New York Times Co. two years ago.

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