Loud noises on both coasts — hosannas in New York, wails of despair in Los Angeles — are coming from basketball fans today after Phil Jackson was hired as president of the New York Knicks. But the move isn’t just about games. Investors wonder whether the Zen master, coach of 11 NBA champions, star player on two others, will help not just the Knicks but also its parent the Madison Square Garden Company?
Executive Chairman Jim Dolan, whose family controls MSG as well as Cablevision and AMC Networks, introduced his new team president at a news conference this morning at the Garden. He says his pal Irving Azoff — the longtime personal manager (Eagles, Steely Dan, Christina Aguilera) and CEO of recently launched partnership Azoff MSG Entertainment – introduced him to Jackson in December at a party at his house.
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I’ve always found the Tribeca Film Festival’s program to be a bit dull, but one section the fest smartly programs each year is the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival. This year, they open with what to this long suffering Knicks fan sounds like the greatest film of all time. They open April 17 with the gala premiere of the docu When The Garden Was Eden, a film about the Knicks championship teams of the early 70’s, the days of Walt “Clyde” Frazier, Earl “The Pearl” Monroe, Willis Reed, Bill Bradley, Dave DeBusschere, Cazzie Russell, Dick Barnett, and yeah, Phil Jackson. While Jackson is now the polished Zen Master who coached the LA Lakers and Chicago Bulls to 11 titles and expected to come in and overhaul the Knicks roster, you should have seen him back then, long haired and gangly, when it was an adventure watching Jackson race down court trying to make a simple layup. The team battled classic rivals like the hated Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics, and, honestly with the exception of Jeremy Lin’s short stint as point guard and the vintage playoff battles led by Patrick Ewing and John Starks, Knicks hoops were never as much fun as when Frazier was the point guard steering the Knicks attack. Pic is directed by Michael Rapaport, who’s currently making a strong impression as a redneck bad guy in the FX series Justified.
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The Madison Square Garden Company was up in pre-market trading this morning as it reported its Q4 and 2013 results for the period ended June 30. There were increases at both MSG Sports and MSG Media, but the year and the quarter were off at MSG Entertainment. Overall, full-year revenues grew 4% to $1.3B for the New York Knicks owner, and net income was up 34% to $142.4M, or $1.83 a share. For the quarter, net income was up to $36.4M or 47c cents a share, from $28.56M or 37 cents a share last year, beating analyst expectations. Quarterly revenues were $336.4M, a 1% increase over the same period in 2012. MSG Media, whose properties include the MSG TV Networks and music channel Fuse, had full-year revenues of $677.7M, +10%, and operating income of $328.6M, a 44% hike. MSG Sports, which houses the NBA’s Knicks, the NHL’s New York Rangers, the WBNA’s New York Liberty and the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack, saw a 1% bump in revenues to $470.3M. Operating income was $13.5M, +3%. At the MSG Entertainment division, producer of live shows including the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular, revenues fell 4% to $252.2M. MSG said the decrease was partially due to lower takings from the Christmas Spectacular franchise, primarily as a result of Superstorm Sandy’s impact on attendance in New York. The division notched an operating loss of $24.7M, an increase of … Read More »
UPDATE: Spike Lee‘s gotten some Kickstarter love from fellow filmmaker Steven Soderbergh, whom Lee revealed backed his project to the tune of $10K – AKA the “courtside Knicks seats” level of donation. “I can confirm that Steven indeed supports his fellow filmmakers, especially when that support leads to courtside seats for the Knicks,” Soderbergh’s manager Michael Sugar tells me. Lee’s still got 28 days left to raise his goal of $1.25M.
PREVIOUS, 7:01 AM: Spike Lee has joined the likes of Zach Braff and Veronica Mars in going the Kickstarter route to get funding for a film that might not otherwise exist. Lee just started the clock on a 30 day attempt to raise $1.25 million for an untitled movie about human beings who are addicted to blood that he calls “funny, sexy, and bloody (and it’s not Blacula).” While most Kickstarter solicitations promise crowd funders little more than a seat at the premiere and some tchochkes of negligible value, give Spike credit for digging deep for his biggest benefactors. For bidders who put up $10,000, Lee promises to take each of them to dinner, and that person will then sit beside Lee in his wife Tonya’s courtside seat at a New York Knicks game. That has become a storied, and sometimes infamous spot at the world’s most famous arena, as Spike is to the Knicks what Jack Nicholson is to the Lakers. Read More »