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FEBRUARY 15, 2005

Formula 1 US's promotions group expands

Wasserman Media Group, the company which is aiming to make Formula 1 racing big in the United States is expanding fast at the moment. Wasserman is in partnership with DIC Entertainment in a company called Grand Prix Entertainment (GPE) which recently purchased the exclusive, domestic broadcast television rights to Formula 1 in the United States and then did a deal to air some of the races on CBS Television. It is believed that GPE will pay CBS for the slots and recoup the investment by selling advertising. This policy was tried by CART a couple of years ago without success. The deal also includes marketing opportunities to support the TV activities.

Wasserman has now acquired the Champion Sports Group, which is heavily involved in NASCAR with clients such as NAPA and GM Goodwrench. Over the years, Champion has represented Dale Earnhardt, Dale Earnhardt, Jr and Kevin Harvick.

Wasserman Media is run by Casey Wasserman, the grandson of Lew Wasserman, a man who is considered to have been the last of the old-time movie moguls. He died in 2002. Wasserman joined MCA in 1936 and became chairman of the company by 1946. In his day Wasserman represented a series of stars including actor Jimmy Stewart and director Alfred Hitchcock. He also represented Ronald Reagan, who became a useful connection in later years. In 1962 MCA bought Universal Studios and in the years that followed built up the company notably by backing a young director called Steven Spielberg who directed Jaws in 1974. Wasserman also developed TV businesses with hit shows such as "A Man Called Ironside" and "Miami Vice". A man with incredible connections, Wasserman's funeral was attended by the likes of Spielberg, Barry Diller, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Sharon Stone, Warren Beatty, Jodie Foster, Ron Howard, Bill Clinton, Al Gore and Richard Gephardt.