Ex-Giant owner Lurie takes TV prod’n leap

The former owner of the San Francisco Giants has acquired a majority stake in San Francisco-based Golden Gaters Prods., a 17-year-old TV production and distribution company involved in sports, entertainment and public affairs specials.

Robert Lurie, a real estate magnate who sold the Giants to a Peter Magowan-led investment group for $ 100 million in January 1993, purchased a controlling interest in the privately held GGP for an undisclosed sum from founder and CEO David Peterson.

Peterson relinquished day-to-day control of the company nearly a year ago and now intends to retire, although he and Lurie will be part of a five-member management committee.

Lurie has named Corey Busch, a former exec VP of the Giants who also served as press secretary to the late San Francisco Mayor George Moscone, as chairman/CE O of the 50-person company.

Busch will head the management committee and seek to lead the company into the emerging multimedia arena. He also wants to expand its programming slate to include strips and weekly programs for syndication, cable and broadcast networks , according to GGP prez Bob Horowitz.

Horowitz helped form GGP, which evolved out of a one-time World Team Tennis team franchise. He will remain in the position he has held since Peterson stepped down from an active management role last March.

Bush and Lurie, who purchased the Giants in 1976, hope to position GGP to become a major player in the expanding television arena.

“There are countless opportunities for expansion,” Busch said. “As the number ofchannels increase, there will be greater demand for programming … We see tremendous opportunities in the coming year for companies like GGP.”

Still, Busch said the new management team has “no grandiose plans to turn things upside down” at the company, which also is involved in barter, post-production and event management.

Rapid pace

The infusion of cash and “additional management firepower” will allow GGP to grow at a much more rapid pace, Horowitz said.

Beyond deep pockets, he noted that Lurie and Busch can help the company grow via their extensive contacts in the TV industry and among advertisers.

A relationship between the owner of GGP and NBC West Coast prez Don Ohlmeyer, a former sports producer, can go a long way for a company trying to expand its programming reach, Horowitz said.

GGP has a full slate of programming for 1994, but the company is poised to break into new areas starting next year.

He suggested the first step may be entertainment specials for network TV, a “natural evolution” from an Academy Awards special that it syndicates annually in addition to a spate of sports and public affairs shows.

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