U.K. “super-indie” Shine, owned and run by Elisabeth Murdoch, is close to finalizing its acquisition of U.S. shingle Reveille, insiders said.
When word of Shine’s interest in Reveille first came to light at the end of November, the price tag was believed to be in the $200 million range (Daily Variety, Nov. 30, 2007). One press report over the weekend pegged the number at closer to $125 million.
Owning Reveille will provide Shine, in which Sony Pictures Television Intl. has a 15% stake, with a valuable power base in the U.S. and one with a proven track record in both scripted and alternative fare. Reveille’s series include “Ugly Betty,” “The Office,” “The Tudors,” “The Biggest Loser” and the new NBC hit “American Gladiators.”
Reveille also operates a growing international business — both in formats and distribution — and maintains a deal with MSN on the digital side. It also remains active in the feature world: Reveille Motion Pictures maintains a first-look deal with Universal Pictures.
Meanwhile, in selling Reveille, NBC Entertainment/Universal Media Studios co-chairman Ben Silverman will likely quiet critics who have pointed out the appearance of a conflict of interest. Although Silverman now has no day-to-day oversight of the company, and doesn’t have a stake in new Reveille programs purchased by NBC, the Peacock nonetheless continues to load up on Reveille product – most recently taking over reality competish “Nashville Star” after it was dropped by NBC cable sibling USA Network.
As part of the acquisition, Reveille’s team is expected to remain in place. That includes the quartet that took over the company’s oversight upon Silverman’s move to NBC: managing directors Howard Owens, Mark Koops, Chris Grant and Lee Rierson.
Reveille has declined comment on the talks in recent months, as has Silverman, who formed the shingle in 2002.
It’s no secret that several companies and private equity firms have been pursuing the wildly successful Reveille for some time. The buzz last spring that Reveille may soon be sold — jeopardizing NBC’s first-look deal with the company –persuaded NBC Universal topper Jeff Zucker to aggressively recruit Silverman for the top exec role at NBC Entertainment back in May.