Newspaper article International New York Times

Tribeca Film Company Agrees to Sell 50% Stake

Newspaper article International New York Times

Tribeca Film Company Agrees to Sell 50% Stake

Article excerpt

The deal with the Madison Square Garden Company brings together two of New York's highest-profile show business brands.

Tribeca Enterprises, the New York-based independent film company co-founded by Robert De Niro, has agreed to sell a 50 percent stake to the Madison Square Garden Company in a deal that values Tribeca at $45 million.

The deal, which the partners said they intended to announce on Monday, brings together two of New York's highest-profile show business brands, one wrestling with ambitions that it has never quite been able to achieve on its own -- Tribeca -- and the other a deep-pocketed sports and live entertainment company looking to expand.

"You do get to a point when you're a start-up, in essence, when you can't do it alone," said Jane Rosenthal, Tribeca's chief executive. Ms. Rosenthal, an experienced producer of movies like "Meet the Parents," co-founded the Tribeca Film Festival in 2002 with Mr. De Niro and Craig Hatkoff.

Tribeca Enterprises has grown into much more than a downtown festival, the annual installment of which begins on April 16 and includes 89 feature films and 58 shorts culled from more than 6,100 submissions. Among other ventures, Tribeca also runs international film events, a two-screen theater, a digital studio and a three- year-old division that releases specialty movies both digitally and in theaters.

But its festival, founded as a cultural antidote for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, is by far Tribeca's biggest asset, and the Madison Square Garden Company's interest says something important about such events: Once largely ad hoc artistic celebrations, some film festivals have, in fact, become promising businesses.

The partnership also cuts to the heart of New York indie-film politics by expanding the reach of James L. Dolan, the executive chairman of the publicly traded Madison Square Garden Company, whose holdings include its namesake arena, Radio City Music Hall, the New York Knicks basketball franchise and the New York Rangers hockey team.

MSG's deal for Tribeca comes amid a recent setback for the company. On Friday, the company's MSG Productions group announced that "Heart and Lights," a new dance-oriented show featuring the Rockettes that it was producing at Radio City, had been canceled less than a week before its scheduled opening and delayed until at least 2015. …

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