Irv Holender, a pioneer of international television distribution and current chairman of the Los Angeles-based Multicom Entertainment Group, used to bring his son Darrin along to business meetings around Hollywood during the early days of home video and cable.
“We were probably one of the few homes in the neighborhood in the early ’80s with a Betamax machine, a VHS machine, and a Z Box,” noted Darrin Holender, president of Multicom, and the kid who sat in on those meetings. Today, the 39-year-old Holender, like the home entertainment business itself, is all grown up, and he works alongside his father, as the two continue to hold meetings together.
During the past 10 years, the younger Holender has advised his father on numerous transactions. “We’re a great combination because between us we cover three generations of entertainment audiences, since we both hang out with my kids and share their perspective as well,” he said. As president of Multicom, one of Darrin’s objectives is to spearhead the company’s drive into the growing digital arena, developing opportunities for Multicom’s vast libraries for the Internet, mobile and over-the-top markets.
Irv Holender stated Multicom’s plans clearly: “We have been acquiring content for a few years and now have over 2,500 hours of long-form broadcast-quality programming. We’re looking for more all the time, and Darrin is on top of the exploding digital space, so we are slowly getting it all out there, focusing on newer titles to keep our overall catalog fresh.”
“My father always stresses the importance of being patient during shifts in distribution trends, and to own as much of your own content as you can,” said the younger Holender, who entered the entertainment industry as an attorney in 2004 and went on to launch his own production and management company, representing artists and content-owners while producing his own film and music projects. One such project is Sorority Row (Summit Entertainment), which developed from Darrin’s idea to remake an obscure horror classic now owned by Multicom.
His second film, RiseUp (RiseUp Entertainment, 2010) is an award-winning documentary about the Jamaican underground music scene, which launched the career of Brushy One String, an artist he co-manages through his own company, RiseUp Entertainment, which he formed in 2009. “There are a number of franchises that can be re-booted from our catalog of golden age television shows or cult movies, and we have some really cool new titles we brought to [various TV markets], like Drake’s Homecoming.”
After acquiring the Kushner-Locke, Liberation and Passport libraries, Multicom recently acquired all rights to the Peakviewing film library. The elder Holender, an industry pioneer in worldwide entertainment licensing and distribution, re-established Multicom Entertainment Group in 1997, bringing with him a 40-year career representing some of the industry’s most prominent entertainment providers and high profile programming like Dallas and Gumby. As a team, the Holenders focus on both traditional and new media deals while exploring more remakes and derivative products based on the properties they have acquired. Among the new projects is the development of a network of digital channels to present their wide variety of programming.
The career of 69-year-old Irv began with Desilu Studios in Hollywood as vice president of Licensing in 1966, and two years later he was named president of Holcorp, which handled worldwide licensing and merchandising for major studios, including 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros.
In 1971, he became CEO of Ziv International, where he was the executive producer of over 600 hours of television programming, including animated features such as Sinbad, Les Miserables and The Adventures of King Arthur, and over 20 major music concerts including Tony Bennett and Folies Bergere. Ziv also handled worldwide distribution and licensing for Dallas, Abbott & Costello and Bruce Lee franchises, and over 1,700 feature films.
In 1982, Holender sold Ziv International to Lorimar and remained president and COO of Ziv/Lorimar and took over worldwide sales and licensing for series like Knots Landing and Falcon Crest.
In 1986 he became the executive producer and distributor of GLOW (Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling), along with various feature films. In 1991, Holender turned his focus to the acquisition of library content and becoming chairman of Liberty International Entertainment, Inc., a position he held from 1997-2005. After an asset buyout of Liberty’s library by Clarity Partners’ backed by Liberation Entertainment, Holender stayed on as vice chairman.
Following his departure from Liberation Entertainment, Holender become a director and principal of the Toronto/New York-based Fremantle Corporation, with a worldwide sales team to exploit a catalog of over 20,000 hours of programming, and to increase Fremantle’s long history since 1952 of format licensing and international co-productions.
In 1997 he founded his current company Multicom, and he’s one of the original founding members of AFM (IFTA).
Between Irv and Darrin there is a 30-year difference, and their management styles could not be more different. “Mine has always been hands on. His is to delegate to qualified personnel,” stated the elder Holender. Conversely, Darrin is “more interested in the details, while my father is deal-driven.”
However, even though Irv learns from Darrin how to be up-to-date with the changes, he tends to disagree with his son’s management style, especially about the importance of “long-term relationships and patience.” Indeed, commented the younger Holender, “management styles and content acquisition generally puts us at odds, but we are a good balance,” and, he added, “I’m teaching my father to have patience and he needs to trust the people of younger generations a bit more.”
An interesting aspect of the generation gap between the elder Holender and his former bosses is that, between his superiors and him there were “mutual interests and [they] were looking for acknowledgements and taps on their backs.”
But ultimately, the older Holender bases his relationship with his son on “trust,” and, for Darrin’s part, his father’s “50 years of experience beats my 15 years any day. He’s truly a blessing. He never forgets a face and is very helpful to people he works with. He’s a positive force even if a bit stubborn and cranky at times.”
By Dom Serafini