Sony Signatures spins spinoff plans

CEO Furano has no comment, but plan seems sensible

NEW YORK — Licensing ’99 attendees were buzzing Thursday about plans by management of Sony Signatures’ music and family entertainment to buy the San Francisco-based unit from Sony Corp..

That would leave Sony Signatures’ film and television division, based in Culver City, to handle the licensing and merchandising traditionally associated with studio operations.

Instigating the spinoff is Dell Furano, the San Francisco-based president and CEO of both Sony Signatures divisions.

Furano was conspicuously absent from the show, held at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. When reached by phone at his office, Furano, who is expected to reveal his plans publicly next week, had no comment about the proposed spinoff.

The maneuver not only makes sense but would be relatively easy to accomplish once Furano lines up sufficient financing. Under Furano’s leadership, Signatures has established high-profile merchandising programs for the Beatles, Kiss, Barbra Streisand, House of Blues and even World Cup Soccer.

Diva deals

Just this year, the San Francisco operation signed up teen singing queen Britney Spears and inked Madonna to a host of merchandising deals.

Furano, who before Signatures served as co-founder and CEO of Winterland Prods., was a pioneer in rock ‘n’ roll merchandising, overseeing licensing for the Grateful Dead, Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen and U2.

Signatures’ Culver City operation is currently involved with theatrical releases “Stuart Little,” “Charlie’s Angels” and “Jumanji 2.”

The division also has a thriving TV-licensing operation, including lines for “Frasier,” the forthcoming “Max Steel,” “Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot” and “Starship Troopers: Bug Wars.”

Peter Dang, Sony Signatures’ executive VP of worldwide consumer products, has been the public face for Sony’s theatrical and TV licenses in recent seasons and presumably will assume control of Sony Signatures after the spinoff.