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Valentine could pull Muppet strings with bid to acquire Henson

Courtesy of the Hollywood Reporter
December 5, 2002

Former UPN president and CEO Dean Valentine has emerged as the latest suitor to field an offer for the Jim Henson Co.

Sources said Valentine has eyed Kermit and Co. as the foundation for a children's programming venture that he's considering launching in partnership with Mort Marcus, formerly a top TV executive at Buena Vista Television and Miramax.

Valentine became familiar with Henson this year after he was hired by investment advisory firm Europlay Capital Advisors to help Henson's troubled German parent company EM.TV evaluate its options for selling Henson.

It's now understood that Europlay could play a part in helping Valentine acquire the company. Sources said Valentine, who ended his four-year run at UPN in January, sees the Henson assets as the basis for a start-up production venture whose initial focus would be on direct-to-video releases.

Valentine's competition in the Henson bidding, which appears to be getting close to the finish line after more than a year of false starts, includes billionaire Haim Saban and a separate group led by members of Henson's current management team.

Valentine, Marcus and Europlay declined comment.

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