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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Barry Diller back in the content biz ... Hedge funds love the movies

- Barry Diller is edging into content once again, after many years of focusing on Internet commerce and search. He's buying control of CollegeHumor.com, according to The Wall Street Journal, for an undisclosed sum. CollegeHumor, of course, is an online version of Animal House, with lots of video. But the parent company, Connected Ventures, is really what Diller's buying -- which includes the online video sharing site Vimeo. Sarah Silver writes:

    The move is the first acquisition by the new programming division of IAC, which is led by former television and Hollywood executive Barry Diller. With properties including Ticketmaster, the search engine Ask.com, CitySearch, and the invitation service Evite, IAC hopes that content-oriented sites will increase the usage and transactions of its monthly audience of 270 million users.


- Merrill Lynch and a consortium of hedge funds are providing Montecito Pictures (Ivan Reitman and Tom Pollock) with $200 million to help bankroll ten movies over the next five years, according to the LA Times. Claudia Eller writes:


    Although the Hollywood studios are increasingly looking to outside investors to help bankroll their films, the Montecito deal marks one of the rare times producers have directly tapped Wall Street.


    "That's why it's unique," Pollock said.


    The first movie to be financed under the new venture, dubbed Cold Spring Pictures, is "Disturbia," a $22-million thriller that will be released by DreamWorks SKG through its new parent studio, Paramount Pictures, in 2007.