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Former MCA prexy sings for Liberty

Boberg co. nabs library of 250 Pix, 2,400 hours of TV

Former MCA Records president Jay Boberg has purchased Liberty Intl. Entertainment and created a new video distribution company, Liberation Entertainment.

With the financial backing of Clarity Partners, Liberation bought Liberty’s library of 250 films and 2,400 hours of TV shows, including music programs such as PBS’ “Sound Stage” and classic TV series such as “Daniel Boone” and “Peter Gunn.”

Former Liberty chairman Irv Holender is vice chairman of Liberation, which has also signed an exclusive output deal with Regent Releasing for its theatrical films and licensed TV programs from Here! network targeting the gay and lesbian audience. It is in negotiations to purchase several other libraries. Company will release its own original longform music DVDs beginning in March.

Boberg, who launched I.R.S. Records with Miles Copeland 25 years ago, said most of Liberation’s DVDs will be released through the Weinstein Co.’s Genius Products.

Current L.A.-based staff of 11 will grow to 16-20 as Liberation hires an exec to oversee DVD sales and marketing. “We’ll make alliances with different partners to outsource a lot of heavy overhead aspects such as sales and distribution, but we’ll still control marketing,” Boberg said.

Others on the new Liberation management team include chief operating officer Sam Mandel, who joins from Time Warner Global Marketing, where he was senior VP of entertainment business development; exec VP Aldy Damian; and senior VP of domestic distribution Stan Justice, who gained experience in TV syndication sales at Paramount Television.

By managing expectations for sales of the library — which he described as “the low-hanging fruit” — Boberg says the company can enjoy incremental revenue from sales of 40,000-100,000 copies of many programs in the library.

Company will look at “maybe one or two” Regent titles each year. The first of 25-30 DVD titles from Liberation will debut in March, including an original longform concert of Michael Bolton and an Irish Tenors concert. Shortly thereafter will be titles from Regent and Here! such as “Hellbent” and “April Showers.”

Beyond DVD, TV and film in the U.S. and international markets, Boberg said there is growing value for visual and audio content in the exploding world of electronic and wireless delivery systems.

Liberation has also secured broadcast and Internet rights from Italian producer RAI Trade for “Imperium: The Rise and Fall of an Empire,” a $45 million production of three four-hour miniseries the company is presenting at NATPE. Mini stars Peter O’Toole, Omar Sharif, Charlotte Rampling and Paul Marcus.

“There are infinite ways to monetize that content,” Boberg said.

Liberation has also been looking at other libraries and content to acquire, including Ventura Entertainment, and is in negotiations on a couple of additional libraries. “We would consider buying or merging,” he said.

Genius Products CEO Trevor Drinkwater said Liberation already fits perfectly with two of the four categories of Genius categories: classics and lifestyle. He expects the companies to work together to develop programming for the other two, family and indie.

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