Van den Ende goes legit

Media billionaire builds theater in Amsterdam

AMSTERDAM — After more than a decade of bureacratic entanglements, billionaire entrepreneur and media mogul Joop van den Ende signed on the dotted line for official permission to build a massive 1,850-seat theater in south Amsterdam.

It will be his company Stage Holding’s third theater in Holland but this will be the first he has built from the ground up. Venue is set to open in 2007 with some 700,000 visitors expected annually.

“I was born in Amsterdam and came from a poor family,” Van den Ende told Daily Variety, “and my first company was located here. I’ve been successful and now I want to give back something, a place where audiences, where people, can go for an evening, feel welcome and have a splendid time.”

He said productions for Amsterdam would likely have a more “spicy” streak — citing something like “The Producers” — than others that might be put on in Utrecht or Scheveningen, the latter a seaside resort near The Hague,where his other theaters are located.

Stage Holding will ante up for more than half of the expected 100 million euro ($125 million) investment but Van den Ende and his wife Janine personally will back the rest.

The theater hasn’t yet been given a name but Van den Ende said by the time it is built, he may toss aside traditional Dutch cultural fussiness, which preaches modesty in such things and name it the Joop Van den Ende Theater.

The venue will be located directlyacross from the major international convention site the Amsterdam RAI, where many media conferences, including Cinema Expo and the Intl. Broadcasting Convention are held.

The area has been targeted for some time as a new entertainment and business corridor that city elders hope will link with major international business and tourist traffic coming in from Schiphol Airport, some 20 minutes away by taxi. Venue is down the street from a new buildup of Japanese businesses serving the wealthy clientele of the five-star Okura

Hotel, close to a major Amsterdam park and recreational area and a 20-minute walk from city center.

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