Entertainment One expands grasp

Company buys Canadian TV trio, distributor

In a move that propels Entertainment One to the top ranks of the Canuck film and TV biz, the rapidly expanding company has bought three Canadian TV companies and one film distributor.

Entertainment One has acquired Los Angeles-based TV producer Blueprint Entertainment, Toronto-based Barna-Alper Prods. and Toronto-based international TV distrib Oasis Intl. In addition, it has purchased Maximum Films, the film distrib founded a year ago by veteran Canadian film player Robert Lantos.

All four companies will be folded into Entertainment One, and all of the top execs at the companies being acquired except for Lantos have accepted exec positions within the parent company.

Lantos will join the Entertainment One board of directors but will not be an exec at the company. Instead he’ll focus on his film production via his Serendipity Point Films, and Entertainment One will get distribution rights to all of his upcoming pics in Canada and snare world rights to some of them.

Blueprint is run by former senior Alliance Atlantis execs John Morayniss and Noreen Halpern, and it produces “Kenny vs. Spenny,” “Til Death Do Us Part” and “Greek.”

Barna-Alper has been one of Canada’s leading TV producers for the past 25 years, and its credits include “Da Vinci’s Inquest,” “The Bridge” and “G-Spot.” Oasis has a catalog of more than 3,000 hours of programming, including “ReGenesis,” the TV movie “Celine” and “Iggy Arbuckle.”

Maximum Films is involved in Canadian distribution, headed by former Odeon Films exec Bryan Gliserman, and international film sales, a division run by Charlotte Mickie.

The Entertainment One board is also considering a dual listing of the company on the Toronto Stock Exchange and the Main List in London sometime during this financial year.

No financial details of the deal were revealed, though Entertainment One is paying with a mix of shares and cash, with the shares representing the majority of the payment.

“I think these businesses are exceptional businesses, so I don’t think there will be a lot of re-engineering,” said Patrice Theroux, president of Entertainment One’s filmed entertainment division. “The plan is not to change the business strategies of the companies. It’s really to take advantage of the synergies.” Morayniss from Blueprint has been appointed CEO of the Television Group, reporting to Theroux. Laszlo Barna will serve as prexy of television production, and Oasis topper Peter Emerson will take on the job of president of international distribution TV, with each reporting to Morayniss. Halpern from Blueprint will be prexy of U.S. television production, reporting to Barna. Both Gliserman and Mickie from Maximum have signed long-term employment agreements with Entertainment One.

Maximum’s international operations will be combined with Entertainment One’s Seville Pictures, and Seville topper David Reckziegel and Gliserman will be co-presidents of Seville/Maximum. Mickie will run the international division of Seville/Maximum, reporting to Reckziegel, and Anick Poirier will continue on as VP of Seville Intl.

Entertainment One already owns distribs Contender Entertainment in the U.K. and RCV Entertainment in Holland and Belgium.

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