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FILM—Film Roman Is Getting Boost From Overseas

Financially-strapped Film Roman is pushing forward with plans to increase live-action programming after agreeing to a $15 million deal that gives India’s largest multimedia production company a 60-percent stake in its operation. “We’re extremely positive about this agreement and see a lot of great things for the company,” said Daryl Barbieri, public relations director for the North Hollywood-based company. The deal, announced in October and made official Feb. 5, is expected to close in the next few weeks, giving Pentamedia Graphics, Ltd. a slightly larger stake – by about 9 percent – than originally announced. The change, Barbieri said, was due to a drop in Film Roman’s stock value since the deal was first reported. Roman is known for producing “The Simpsons,” now in its 12th season on Fox Broadcasting Co., and “King of the Hill,” on the same network. John Hyde, company chief executive officer, said Film Roman’s focus will be on building a global entertainment company with a reach into the Asian and international markets as well as into the domestic market. Hyde said the company’s operation would complement Pentamedia’s production efforts in Chennai, India where that company runs a 22-acre animation studio. Roman’s agreements with Korean- and Philippines-based animation studios for its ongoing productions of “The Simpsons” and “King of the Hill” will not be impacted by the new agreement, Hyde said. However, it could mean a new distribution arm for Film Roman, which now has a distribution deal with 20th Century Fox. “We’re at the mercy of the studios when it comes to distribution, so we could see a move toward establishing our own distribution unit, but it’s up in the air,” Barbieri said. Bear Stearns analyst Victor Miller said Film Roman’s deal with the India media giant will strengthen its overall operation and its overseas marketing efforts. The company, he said, has struggled with declining revenue resulting from expansion and high costs of animation and competition from other animation studios. Over a 12-month period, the company’s stock price has moved between $2.12 and 25 cents per share. It was delisted in December from the Nasdaq Small Cap exchange and is now trading.

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