CTV affiliate merges with Los Angeles production company Artisan

TORONTO - CTV Inc. production company Landscape Entertainment has merged with Los Angeles-based Artisan Entertainment in a deal that gives Landscape its own distribution outlet.

Artisan, which gets into the television business as a result of the deal, is a leading independent motion picture distribution company in the U.S. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

"It makes Landscape a more powerful entertainment company that can actually distribute and own its own product," Robert Cooper -- who founded Landscape last year along with Bell Globemedia's CTV, which owns one-third of the company -- said Friday from L.A.

"That's the single major advantage to it. Plus it's a platform to grow." Montreal-born Cooper, who has become a major player in the U.S. film industry, will become chief executive of Artisan Pictures, where he will be responsible for both motion picture and television production.

He will also be vice-chairman of parent company Artisan Entertainment. Cooper has spent two decades in the entertainment industry, and has brought several feature films to completion including American Beauty, which won the 2000 Oscar for best picture.

Although the terms of the deal were not specified, Cooper's investor group and CTV will share a 20 per cent stake in Artisan. In exchange, they will contribute Landscape stock and funds previously invested in Landscape.

Landscape Pictures will operate independently within the Artisan Pictures division, concentrating on producing pictures worth more than $20 million. "Under $20 million, Artisan will make them," said Cooper.

"Landscape is wholly owned by Artisan, so the benefit of producing large movies for studios, those revenues will come into Artisan."

CTV will obtain three seats on the board of directors which will go to Cooper and to Ivan Fecan, chief executive of Bell Globemedia, and John Josephson, a managing director at Allen & Company which represented Artisan in the transaction.

David Ginsburg, president and chief operating officer of Landscape, will serve as president and chief operating officer of Artisan Pictures. Amir Malin will remain as chief executive officer of Artisan Entertainment.

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