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Friday, July 14, 2006

Robert Johnson Forms Hollywood Film Studio

Robert L. Johnson, the cable pioneer who founded Black Entertainment Television 25 years ago and sold it for $3 billion in 2000 to Viacom, has formed a film studio with independent producers Harvey and Bob Weinstein. Johnson's Our Stories Films will produce family-friendly features about African Americans that will be distributed in theaters by the Dimension Films unit of Weinstein Co., which will be part-owner of the venture. New York bank J.P. Morgan Chase has agreed to raise up to $175 million to fund the company. With Weinstein's Dimension Films as a distribution partner, Johnson is partnering with one of the most successful marketers of low-budget films to young audiences. Dimension is known for producing highly profitable horror, comedy and action films such as the "Scream" franchise, as well as "Spy Kids" and "Bad Santa."

Johnson, whose holding company is based in Bethesda, will be chairman and chief executive of Our Stories. The studio is to have its headquarters in Los Angeles with offices in New York. Johnson plans to hire a chief operating officer who knows Hollywood better than he does. There was no major movie studio where African Americans had the green-light authority to make broadly distributed films
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