BIG FIGHT, BIG DEAL
The erasure of TelePrompTer from what promises to be the most lucrative prizefight in history—the heavyweight championship match between Floyd Patterson and Sonny Liston scheduled for September 25 in Chicago—is a blow to TPT President Irving B. Kahn but not to the other participants. Fighters, managers and promoters now have a shot at a deal that protects against instant taxation and provides what every fighter needs—assurance of income after retirement. The winning bid was made by a new firm called Graff, Reiner & Smith, consisting of:
Sheldon Graff, 38, Beverly Hills financier, formerly a top representative of the Equitable Life Assurance Society, for which he wrote policies totaling millions of dollars.
David J. Reiner, 39, closed-circuit executive and engineer, who was previously affiliated with TelePrompTer in fight presentations.
Martin W. Smith, 41, advertising consultant who worked with Reiner in the closed-circuit field.
Reiner and Smith approached Daniel A. Schiffer, 43, Graff's attorney, for advice on bidding for the ancillary rights to the fight. Schiffer immediately suggested Graff, "an enthusiastic sports fan," as the financial angel. A deal was made that Graff would handle finances, Reiner the technical aspects and Smith the promotion.
Their very attractive bid was a $2 million guarantee or 85% of the gross from all ancillary rights—theater TV, radio, kinescope and movies—whichever was greater. They offered to pay $300,000 down and the balance of $1.7 million over the next 17 years. In the event of returns above the $2 million guarantee they would continue to pay $100,000 a year starting in 1980, when the $2 million guarantee would run out.
The delayed payoff is, of course, a device to provide tax benefits and a form of old age insurance to those involved. Smith believes that the receipts will in fact exceed $4 million.
After the Patterson-Liston fight the new enterprise plans to engage in other closed circuit TV projects with emphasis on industrial use of their system.
BOX-OFFICE BEAU GESTE