Ex-WMA vet Rifkin joins ‘Netcaster, prod’n outfit

Venture lands Fox TV deal

Arnold Rifkin, who ankled the William Morris Agency last fall, said Wednesday he has partnered with Bruce Willis, Whoopi Goldberg, Danny Glover, writer-producer Glenn Gordon Caron and musician John Mellencamp to form management-production outfit Cheyenne Enterprises.

Additionally, the former high-level agent has joined the board of Netcaster Mediatrip.com, which first broadcast online the eight-minute dealmaking short film “George Lucas in Love.”

Although he declined to detail Cheyenne’s specific projects, Rifkin said the company, based in Los Angeles and Jackson Hole, Wyo., already has inked a three-year production deal with Twentieth Century Fox Television to produce several series and is also involved in a number of other film and television projects, financing and Internet ventures.

Despite other published reports, Rifkin, who remains relatively veiled regarding his business practices, stressed, “I am not a manager, nor am I an agent. I was in that business for 25 years. I’m retired from it.”

However, Cheyenne does manage Willis, Goldberg, Glover, Gordon Caron and Mellencamp. William Morris continues to rep Willis.

When he ankled William Morris, Rifkin said he could continue to work with Willis and Goldberg in some capacity, so the continued association with the talent doesn’t come as much of a surprise.

As a board member of Mediatrip.com, Rifkin said he plans to be hands-on, serving as an adviser and counseling the company in its future strategic efforts to build the company as a major online Netcaster.

“It’s not about my physical presence, but about my ability to be there for them,” Rifkin told Daily Variety.

Mediatrip.com broadcasts short live-action and animated pics and other original programming online, similar to Ifilm and Atom Films. Docu “The Long Way Home” is part of its catalog. It bowed “George Lucas in Love,” last year, attracting more than 150,000 viewings in three weeks.

The pic garnered its filmmaker Joe Nussbaum representation at Bender-Spink and a potential directing gig at DreamWorks.

Rifkin, who also sits on the board of two other undisclosed dot-coms, said he became part of Mediatrip.com because he was “impressed” with chairman and CEO Austin Harrison, who most recently served as executive producer of film news Web site Hollywood.com. Prexy and co-founder Robert Faust also created and served as executive director of the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival.

“When you look at creative content companies, they are all offering something similar,” Rifkin said. “But Harrison’s unrelentive passion became a major factor. He was very impressive. Mediatrip is one of the most innovative companies in online entertainment, and Austin has a unique vision of the Internet and entertainment worlds.”

Rifkin was a founding partner of tenpercentery Triad Artists before it was acquired by William Morris in 1992. While there, he served as worldwide head of the motion picture department before being tapped prexy of the agency in 1996,

“Arnold’s experience coupled with our knowledge of the Internet will help orchestrate the growth of Mediatrip.com,” Harrison said. “Arnold Rifkin provides our team with key strategic guidance, thus building momentum to build a premier online entertainment company.”

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