You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Hollywood Bowl Turned Down $100 Million Offer From AEG

When the Hollywood Bowl announced Aug. 7 that it had struck a deal making Live Nation-Hewitt Silva Presents the exclusive promoter of non-Philharmonic concerts at the venue for 10 years, it capped a months-long bidding war between rivals Live Nation and AEG.

That meant, sources with knowledge of the auction tell Variety, that the Bowl turned down a $100 million, 10-year deal offer from AEG. And while it’s unclear whether the winning bid was even close to that sum, the likely reason for the choice, people close to the matter said, was that for a traditionally conservative venue, which does not have a particularly youthful board of directors, familiarity goes a long way.

A rep for the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, which operates the venue, declined comment, as did reps for AEG and Live Nation.

Andrew Hewitt and Bill Silva have booked the non-Philharmonic concerts at the Bowl since 1991, contemporizing its music offerings and cementing its reputation as arguably the most prestigious venue — and most coveted booking — in the Los Angeles area. Since its official opening in 1922, the Bowl has hosted concerts by Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Wonder and multiple orchestras and classical luminaries — and even a star-studded memorial concert for George Gershwin in 1937. The outdoor canyon setting provides for stunning visuals as well as elaborate concerts, such as Jeff Lynne’s ELO performing with a full orchestra last year.

The 18,000-seat Bowl is owned by Los Angeles County and operated by the Phil, whose season generally runs from June through October. Since Hewitt and Silva came on board, it has hosted an increasing number of non-classical concerts in its off-season (and on several nights during the summer), now averaging 15-20 per year; upcoming shows include Incubus, New Order, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Imagine Dragons and Chance the Rapper.

Sources say Hewitt and Silva were attached to Live Nation, headed by CEO Michael Rapino, having joined forces with the promoter in 2011, and would not have been able to work with either of the other main bidders.

“We’ve had a wonderful experience with Andy and Bill for over 25 years,” Gail Samuel, acting president and chief executive officer of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, said in prepared remarks announcing the deal. “We look forward to continuing to develop this relationship with Live Nation-Hewitt Silva, bringing great artists to perform for our audiences at the Hollywood Bowl and enhancing the musical history of this iconic venue.”

The move is the latest in a contentious game of one-upmanship between Live Nation and AEG, the world’s largest live-entertainment companies. Live Nation is peripherally involved in a standoff between AEG and Azoff-MSG Entertainment, whereby sources say AEG is blocking artists from performing at London’s O2 Arena if they perform at the Forum, an AMSGE venue (as is New York’s Madison Square Garden), instead of Staples. In a statement to Variety, AMSGE’s Azoff and James Dolan said: “We would like to clarify our booking policy. We always do what is best for artists. Both MSG and Forum are open buildings and will accept business from any performer that wishes to play there.” Live Nation has also been a player in the recent battle over Bowery Presents, which operates the Bowery Ballroom and Mercury Lounge. Sources say Live Nation will take over booking for both.

AEG’s giant offer made business sense for the company because its margins are low, much of the staffing required for such a move is in place, it has strong sponsorship and premium-seating offerings (which Live Nation may implement) — and not least because it would have provided a plumb booking for many of its touring acts, which include the Rolling Stones, Ed Sheeran, Katy Perry and Taylor Swift.

Yet when the Bowl does business, an industry source says, “history counts for a lot.”

Correction: A previous version of this story listed Oak View Group as one of the bidders for the Bowl contract. The company was not in the running, says a rep.

More Biz

  • "The Continent," directed by Chinese racer

    Alibaba Pictures Buys Into Chinese Director Han Han's Film Studio

    Alibaba Pictures confirmed that it has invested an undisclosed amount in Chinese celebrity blogger-turned-film director Han Han’s Shanghai Tingdong Film. Han’s upcoming “Pegasus” is one of the most anticipated films of the year in China. Alibaba Pictures, part of e-commerce giant Alibaba, is now the second-largest stakeholder in Tingdong. It has a 13.1% stake, according to Chinese [...]

  • Phil McIntyre Steps Down as Roc

    Phil McIntyre Steps Down From Roc Nation Management, but Remains Affiliated With Company

    Phil McIntyre has stepped down as president of Roc Nation Management, but his PhilyMack management company remains affiliated with Roc, a source close to the situation tells Variety. PhilyMack, which McIntyre founded in 2006, partnered with Roc Nation in 2015. The source stressed that McIntyre’s role at Roc Nation Management  — whose clients include Rihanna, [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein Trial

    Ben Brafman Drops Out of Harvey Weinstein Rape Case

    Harvey Weinstein has officially parted ways with defense attorney Ben Brafman, releasing a joint statement Thursday announcing the move. Weinstein had clashed with his defense attorney over strategy in his rape and sexual assault case. The pair issued a statement saying their parting was amicable, and that Brafman would cooperate fully with Weinstein’s new attorneys. [...]

  • Netflix - Apple TV

    Netflix Turns in Record Q4 Subscriber Gain, Price Increase Weighs on U.S. Forecast

    Netflix is beating Wall Street expectations for international subscriber growth — but its recently announced price increase in the U.S. may have put a damper on its momentum in the States. For the fourth quarter of 2018, Netflix reported 1.53 million paid net adds in the U.S. and 7.31 million internationally, to end the year [...]

  • Heather Parry Live Nation

    Live Nation Investigation of Heather Parry Also Targets Leakers (EXCLUSIVE)

    Over the past two weeks, the law firm of Paul Hastings LLP has been probing allegations reported by Variety last month that Heather Parry, the head of Live Nation Productions, had verbally abused employees and used offensive language in the workplace. But the lead investigator, Elena Baca, seems to be just as interested in uncovering [...]

  • Leslie Moonves

    Leslie Moonves to Pursue Arbitration for His $120 Million Severance From CBS

    Former CBS Corp. chairman-CEO Leslie Moonves will pursue an arbitration claim to fight CBS for the $120 million severance that he was denied last month when the company’s board of directors determined he was fired for cause. Moonves was ousted in September after multiple women came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against the longtime [...]

  • A view of the SK Telecom

    Korean OTT Players, SK Telecom Join Forces to Compete Against Netflix

    South Korea’s three major broadcasters KBS, MBC and SBS have joined forces with the country’s leading telecom firm, SK Telecom, to launch a new video streaming platform. The move is regarded as a defensive reaction against the growing influence of foreign competitors, lead by Netflix. The broadcasters already jointly own Pooq, with MBC and SBS [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content