Meet Moviefone’s New Owner: ‘Made in Hollywood’ Producer Cleveland O’Neal IIIVariety — Todd Spangler
The buyer of Moviefone — who snapped up the site for the fire-sale price of $1 million in a bankruptcy auction — has now come forward: It’s Cleveland O’Neal III, creator and producer of syndicated daytime entertainment show “Made in Hollywood.”
O’Neal’s holding company Born in Cleveland LLC was the winning bidder last week in the bankruptcy auction of Moviefone’s parent company Helios and Matheson Analytics, also the majority owner of MoviePass. A New York bankruptcy judge approved the sale of $1.075 million to Born in Cleveland. O’Neal, who is founder, president and CEO of production and distribution company Connection III Entertainment, initially had preferred to remain anonymous but is now announcing his purchase of the movie-listing and entertainment site.
“The integration of ‘Made In Hollywood’s’ TV assets with Moviefone’s iconic digital/mobile/social assets is a perfect marriage of entertainment brands providing a 360 solution for our advertising, studio, broadcast and streaming partners across multiple platforms,” O’Neal said in a statement provided to Variety.
According to a rep for O’Neal, he plans to retain Moviefone’s current staff and evaluate future hires.
Founded in 1989, Moviefone was acquired by AOL in 1999 for $388 million in stock. Helios and Matheson acquired Moviefone from Verizon’s Oath in 2018 for $1 million in cash plus stock. Helios and Matheson filed for Chapter 7 liquidation last year, after sustaining big financial losses from the now-defunct MoviePass service.
“Made In Hollywood” is currently in its 15th season, syndicated across the U.S. on station groups including CBS and Fox owned-and-operated stations. The show features interviews with stars and directors, giving viewers a look at new and upcoming box office, streaming and Blu-ray movie releases. O’Neal’s company also produces a free, ad-supported digital streaming network for Made In Hollywood, which recently launched on Sinclair Broadcast Group’s Stirr streaming service and an app on Roku.
O’Neal’s L.A.-based Connection III Entertainment also produces and distributes “Made in Hollywood: Teen Edition”; “Made in Hollywood Now,” showcasing what’s available on any screen from streaming to Blu-ray; “Live Life and Win,” featuring inspirational teen success stories. The company’s library of properties includes “What About Your Friends?”, TV’s first African-American after-school special; hip-hop beach movie “Phat Beach”; and made-for-TV movie “Christmas at Water’s Edge,” starring Keshia Knight Pulliam (“Cosby”) and Tom Bosley (“Happy Days”).
O’Neal is a member of the Producers Guild of America and the Television Academy. Connection III has earned multiple Emmy nominations, won an NAACP Image Award, and in 2007 received the Arts & Entertainment Company of the Year award from the City of Los Angeles and the SBA.