Rafshoon Communications, the Washington-based television production company headed by former Carter administration adviser Gerald M. Rafshoon, has been acquired by Consolidated Entertainment Inc., a privately held Los Angeles company that produces and distributes miniseries and movies for television.
Rafshoon will become a part owner and vice chairman of Consolidated and will be president of its subsidiary, Consolidated Productions Inc., a California production company. The value of the deal -- a transfer of stock -- was not disclosed, but Rafshoon will be one of five owners of the company.
Rafshoon, a former advertising executive with Twentieth Century-Fox Film, is best known as the media adviser for Jimmy Carter's 1976 presidential campaign. He later served as Carter's White House communications adviser.
In its seven years in business, Rafshoon Communications has produced such television movies as "The Atlanta Child Murders" and "Circle of Violence: A Family Drama."
Consolidated, a 10-year-old firm that started out producing programs for the British Broadcasting Co. and the Public Broadcasting System, also is getting $35 million in financing from The Carlyle Group, a Washington-based investor group, and E.M. Warburg Pincus & Co. Inc., a New York venture capital firm.
Consolidated will be involved in about 30 television projects this year and plans to get into the movie business, producing film projects financed outside the U.S.
"We think we're on the cutting edge of what's happening in the business because the need for having overseas involvement in television has become greater and greater," Rafshoon said. "The overseas television market is an incredible market, while the domestic market has gone down some because of cable television and VCRs."
"This is a company with enormous growth potential as one of the largest distributors of U.S. television in Europe," said David Rubenstein, a partner in The Carlyle Group, which also will get an ownership stake in Consolidated. "Europeans have more capacity to buy than ever before."
Consolidated plans to spend about $50 million this year on television productions, including "The Great Satan," a six-hour miniseries for HBO about the rise of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and the hostage crisis, and "Passages to Power," a four-hour miniseries being developed with CBS that follows two Southern families through three generations.
Rafshoon said yesterday in a telephone interview from California that not all of the television programs the firm produces will have a political or current events theme.
"I like to tell people that I got into the movie business because, unlike politics, people just want to do good works; there's no ego involved," he said.
Rafshoon said he first got to know the owners of Consolidated when they found financing and distribution money for "The Nightmare Years," a 6 1/2-hour miniseries for Home Box Office and international television based on William L. Shirer's autobiography that will begin production later this year. The story for the miniseries was written by Bob Woodward, The Washington Post's assistant managing editor for investigative news, and script writer Christian Williams.