Launching BASE

Former Clear Channel Entertainment execs Brian Becker and Scott Zeiger, along with a team of other former CCE personnel, have formed BASE Entertainment to produce, present and program live theatrical entertainment, the newly formed company announced May 5th.

When CCE spun Live Nation off as a stand-alone company, Becker and Zeiger went their own ways as well – though it has always been understood that the two would continue to work on projects with LN. Becker’s non-compete with CCE/Live Nation expired at the end of April.

Since their departure, Becker and Zeiger have been putting together financing for acquisitions and development, including a 50/50 partnership with Live Nation in the $35 million production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Phantom – The Las Vegas Spectacular.”

BASE is also associate producing the highly successful “Cirque du Soleil – Delirium” tour with Live Nation. It will also construct, program and operate two theatres in Planet Hollywood Las Vegas including the 7,000-seat Theatre For The Performing Arts at what is presently the Aladdin.

In addition, BASE is also a general partner of Martin Short’s touring show “Fame Becomes Me,” and is preparing to launch the Gordie Brown Comedy Show at the 700-seat performance space at The Venetian hotel/casino in Vegas.

Partnering with BASE Entertainment is Los Angeles-based private equity firm Clarity Partners, which focuses exclusively on investments in communications, media and business services. BASE also teams up with management firm Morra, Brezner, Steinberg & Tenenbaum Entertainment with its roster of more than 35 clients including Robin Williams, Billy Crystal and Woody Allen.

MBST was purchased last year by Robert F. X. Sillerman’s CKX for $10 million. MBST produces film, television and live stage productions, and the joint venture will create theatrical and comedy shows for Broadway, Las Vegas and touring markets.

The collaborations between BASE and Live Nation reflect the friendly terms of the spinoff, Zeiger told Pollstar.

“I’d been working with Mike Rapino and the guys at Live Nation for some time to try to figure out where I would be best placed inside the organization,” Zeiger said. “With their focus primarily on development activity and contemporary music, my talents were sort of wasted there.

“We had a very, very amicable parting of the ways. But once we completed the transactions just before the end of the year, we had to go out and find the money.”

They found the money, and a respected equity partner in Clarity, according to Zeiger.

“The obligations that we assumed – half of ‘Phantom’ is $17.5 million for our investment alone. It’s a $35 million production. The creation, development, programming, of the two theatres at Planet Hollywood are tens of millions. And the Martin Short musical that we’re a general partner on is a $4.5 million investment, although we’ve syndicated that. Our investing in the Cirque du Soleil show, Delirium, is substantial,” Zeiger said.

As for the Planet Hollywood project, Zeiger says it’s a total commitment to both rooms.

“We are, literally and financially, obligated to and are constructing the theatre,” Zeiger said. “Once the construction is complete, on our nickel, we will program and operate it 52 weeks a year. Both those theatres will be our babies.”

Zeiger added that BASE – not only an acronym from the principals’ initials, but an “homage to PACE, which is our origin” – will be making more announcements in coming weeks about international theatrical projects, including in Asia, and initial bookings for the Las Vegas theatres.

BASE Entertainment currently has offices in New York City and Houston, and will open a fully staffed office in Las Vegas shortly.

– Deborah Speer