HOLLYWOOD — Bob Cooper’s film and TV production company, Landscape Entertainment, has merged with Artisan Entertainment.
Cooper will serve as CEO of a new Artisan operating division, Artisan Pictures, heading all motion picture production, marketing and distribution as well as television development and production. He will also hold the title of Artisan Entertainment vice chairman and report to the company’s board of directors.
Artisan Pictures contains three divisions: features, which will develop and produce pics budgeted under $20 million; Landscape/Artisan Televi-sion, which will develop and produce telepics, series programming and miniseries for broadcast and cable; and Landscape Pictures, which will develop big-budget features for third-party studio release.
David Ginsburg, currently president and chief operating officer of Landscape Entertainment, will serve as president and COO of Artisan Pictures and exec VP of Artisan Entertainment. Likely to oversee the day-to-day operation of Landscape Pictures is Michael Birnbaum, who cur-rently serves as senior VP at Landscape Entertainment.
In return for the acquisition, former Landscape Entertainment investor CTV and Cooper’s group of shareholders now hold a 20% interest in Artisan. The purchase of Landscape included stock as well as cash that the investors previously committed to the growth of Landscape.
As part of the transaction, Canadian broadcaster CTV will obtain three seats on the Artisan board that will be filled by Cooper; Ivan Fecan, presi-dent and CEO of CTV parent Bell Globemedia; and John Josephson, a managing director at Allen & Co.
Landscape Entertainment currently has more than a dozen features in development. Landscape’s existing television staff, as well as its extensive development and production slate, will be merged into Landscape/Artisan. Landscape will maintain any feature or television development and distri-bution arrangements that were made independent of Artisan.
While most Landscape employees will relocate to Artisan’s Santa Monica offices, Landscape Pictures will maintain a separate space.
“There have been a lot of question marks about our ability to produce content,” Artisan chairman Amir Malin told Daily Variety. “We’ve an-swered this by hiring one of the best pieces of manpower in Hollywood. My responsibility is to grow the company. This will be the first of many transactions that will be announced in the next two or three months.”
Landscape and Artisan had been discussing a merger since the begin-ning of the summer. Cooper has also been in talks for a first-look deal for Landscape Pictures at MGM.
“I have always looked for chances to brand content, whether at HBO or elsewhere,” said Cooper. “This agreement presents that opportunity as well as extending our ability to develop, produce and distribute feature films under both the Artisan and Landscape brands.”
Landscape recently completed production on “Sins of the Father,” the first movie under its overall deal with FX, and currently has projects at NBC, CBS, ABC, Court TV, VH1, Disney Channel, USA Network, TNT, Sci Fi Channel and Lifetime.
D’Works prod’n topper
Prior to forming Landscape in 1999, Cooper most recently served as head of production at DreamWorks, where he oversaw the production of a number of films, including “American Beauty.” He also served as presi-dent of TriStar Pictures, where he oversaw production of “My Best Friend’s Wedding” and “As Good as It Gets.”
As president of HBO Pictures, Cooper put into production films such as “Barbarians at the Gate,” “And the Band Played On,” “Stalin” and “The Burning Season.” In 1978, Cooper founded production entity Citadel Entertainment, later sold to HBO.
Bell Globemedia is Canada’s largest multimedia company, owning CTV, national newspaper the Globe and Mail and Sympatico-Lycos, the top Canadian Internet portal.
Allen & Co. represented Artisan in the transaction.