Board of Directors
With his extensive knowledge of international finance, as well as his in-depth experience in the entertainment industry, Mr. Cohen received a BA from Yale and a B. Phil from Oxford and has held senior positions at several of the leading investment banking firms, including N.M. Rothschild & Sons, Ltd., Salomon Brothers, Lehman Brothers, Orion Royal Bank, Ltd. and Samuel Montagu Inc. For the past twenty-three years, he has focused his efforts on the entertainment and media industries and is active in motion picture, television and other media financing throughout the world.
Cohen’s involvement in the motion picture industry began in the UK in 1980, where he pioneered the use of tax-based lease financing for feature films and with several partners, including Samuel Montagu and Investors in Industry, the U.K. Government sponsored venture capitalist, financed over £400 million of UK-qualified production, including such well-known films as Never Say Never Again, Santa Claus – The Movie, Educating Rita, and Supergirl. Mr. Cohen also founded Canadian Entertainment Investors (C.E.I.), which was one of the leading financiers for the Canadian film and television industry and which pioneered the use of public limited partnership offerings to finance Canadian-qualified productions, including such films as Iron Eagle II, Watchers, and Black Robe, and television series, such as Counterstrike and Sweating Bullets.
In December 1993, Cohen completed a four-year term as President and COO of Largo Entertainment, the joint venture between JVC/Victor Company of Japan Ltd. and Hollywood producer Lawrence Gordon. Mr. Cohen advised JVC on the creation of Largo and under his tenure, Largo produced several major box office hits including Point Break, Unlawful Entry and Timecop as well as the critically acclaimed film Malcolm X, which it co-financed with Warner Bros.
In 1996, Mr. Cohen retired as Co-Chairman of InterMedia/Film Equities to form American Entertainment Investors, Inc. (“AEI”). He was instrumental in the creation of Alcon Entertainment, an independent production company established by Frederick W. Smith, Chairman and Founder of Federal Express Corp., and AEI advises Alcon on all aspects of finance, distribution and strategic planning. Alcon’s productions include the blockbuster hit The Blind Side, Book of Eli, My Dog Skip, Dude, Where’s My Car?, Affair of the Necklace, the critically acclaimed Insomnia, Love Don’t Cost a Thing, Chasing Liberty, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, One Missed Call, the highly successful P.S. I Love You, and the hit sequel Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2. Alcon also acquired North American distribution rights to Sixteen Blocks and The Wicker Man, both released in 2006. AEI negotiated an output arrangement with Warner Bros on Alcon’s behalf under which Warners distributes Alcon produced films on a first-look basis in the U.S. and Canada and on a case-by-case basis in the rest of the world. AEI also advises River Road Entertainment on all aspects of finance, distribution, and strategic planning. River Road’s first film project was Brokeback Mountain and it also co-financed the critically acclaimed Lust, Caution and Prairie Home Companion. Subsequently, River Road has produced and financed Fur, the documentary Chicago 10, the Academy Award nominated Food Inc, and the highly acclaimed Into the Wild. AEI also advises the new distribution company, Apparition, which has released the critically acclaimed films Bright Star, The Young Victoria, The Runaways and is preparing to release The Tree of Life in the fourth quarter of 2010. AEI advises a number of other independent production and distribution companies on all aspects of finance, distribution, strategic planning and acquisitions and is frequently called upon to value film and television libraries and advise on the purchase and sale of such libraries. In 2001, AEI represented InterMedia on the acquisition of the Largo library. Mr. Cohen personally has advised on economic and financial matters in a number of complex litigations in the motion picture and television industries and has frequently served as an expert witness.
Mr. Cohen was also a principal in Abel’s Hill Capital Corp., which provided capital raising, merger and acquisition and advisory services primarily (but not exclusively) to entertainment and media companies worldwide. Immediately upon inception, Abel’s Hill represented the Saleh family in the sale of the Angelika Theater, the prominent movie complex in New York City. Following Prism Entertainment’s bankruptcy filing, Abel’s Hill valued the company at the behest of Imperial Bank and also advised Pioneer Electronics on a broad range of issues associated with Carolco Pictures’ bankruptcy proceedings.
During Mr. Cohen’s tenure at InterMedia, the firm represented such clients as JVC/Victor Company of Japan, PolyGram Filmed Entertainment, Shepperton Studios, Japan Satellite Broadcasting, Penta Film, Showscan Entertainment, Scott Free Productions, Rizzoli Corriere della Sera, Alliance Entertainment, as well as several of the major Hollywood studios. Prominent transactions included the structuring and negotiating of U.S. theatrical, home video, and television distribution arrangements on behalf of Polygram International; advising an investment group headed by directors Ridley and Tony Scott on the purchase of Shepperton Studios; representing George Harrison on the sale of his film production company, Hand Made Films, to Paragon Entertainment; and initiating and negotiating the sale of King’s Road’s library to Mel Gibson’s film company, Icon Productions. Mr. Cohen also personally advised both Dean Witter and E.F. Hutton in the area of motion picture limited partnership investment.
With a proven track record of creative and sophisticated financial strategies, Mr. Cohen is recognized as an innovative leader in the ever-changing market of entertainment and media financing. He is considered an authority on the subject and has spoken before the American Film Market, Wertheim Schroder/Variety Seminar, Paul Kagan Seminars, the L.A. County Bar Association, UCLA, Cinetex, Festival of Festivals, and other organizations in the entertainment business, and has published many articles in the field. Mr. Cohen is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture, Arts and Sciences and has been adjunct professor in The Peter Stark Producing Program in the University of Southern California Graduate School of Cinema/Television since 1992. He is a director of First California Financial Group, Inc., the holding company of First California Bank. In addition, he is a Trustee of the Yale Library Associates and is a member of the Board of Governors of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.
Mr. Fogelson has had a long and illustrious career in the media and entertainment industry. President of PolyGram Filmed Entertainment Distribution (PFED) from 1994 to 1998, Mr. Fogelson combines an extensive theatrical marketing/distribution background with an acclaimed and profitable history as an independent film producer. As President of PFED, he spearheaded the creation and operation of PolyGram Films, a new motion picture distribution company, which released major films (i.e. What Dreams May Come, starring Robin Williams and The Game, starring Michael Douglas) in the domestic market. Mr. Fogelson also supervised PolyGram’s successful specialized film distribution division, Gramercy Pictures.
Prior to PolyGram, Mr. Fogelson held many prominent leadership roles within some of the world’s largest media companies leading them to new and record-setting success. He was Executive Vice-President of Columbia Pictures where he implemented and supervised the marketing of several successful films and at Warner Bros., receiving the highest industry marketing award for launching the Superman film series. He also served as President of Worldwide Marketing of United Artist. During the two years of his tenure as President of Rastar Films (Ray Stark’s production company), Mr. Fogelson supervised such hits as Electric Horseman, directed by Sidney Pollack and starring Robert Redford, and Chapter Two, Neil Simon’s hugely successful comedy.
Mr. Fogelson also created his own management and consulting business, AFA Co., that served entertainment and media companies on a broad range of marketing, distribution and production and corporate activities. His production credits include the highly profitable classic Blue Thunder and Spring Break, Columbia Pictures’ moneymaking teen film that is often seen as the first film of the 1980’s to re-invigorate the teen film genre.
Recently, AFA was retained to provide supervision and strategic management for an implemented niche marketing and distribution plan in combination with the AMC theatre chain. The film, Indigo, which was an unprecedented box office and home entertainment success, may well provide entertainment producers a new business model in which to take advantage of the digital production and marketing capabilities of the 21st century. Mr. Fogelson and the distribution model were the subject of a feature piece in The Financial Times, Dec. 13, 2005. The AFA Co. also worked with Sydney Kimmel Entertainment on the start of his film production business and with Warner Bros. on its examination of the viability of Warner Independent Pictures.