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George Wein Sells Festival Productions Inc.

NEW YORK (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — George Wein, producer of legendary jazz festivals such as the JVC-sponsored events in New York and Paris and the Newport Jazz and Folk festivals in Rhode Island, announced yesterday that he has sold his company, Festival Productions Inc. to newly formed New York-based entertainment production company Festival Network LLC.

The deal has been described as a merger by both parties, and Wein declined to say how much money changed hands, other than that it was “in the millions,” according to the New York Times.

The sales means that Wein will have a more diminished role in the jazz-festival business, in which he has been a pioneering and powerful force since the first Newport Jazz Festival in 1954.

Wein, 81, will continue to serve as chairman of Festival Productions Inc., which will become a division of the Festival Network. The new company is headed by Chris Shields, a 36-year-old entrepreneur who was previously founder and president of Shoreline Media, a music-festival production company.

Wein’s staff members will remain on a three-year contract, he told the paper, and little will be changed for now in the booking of the festivals.

“We’re going to go on exactly as we’ve been going,” Wein told the Times.

Wein struck the deal with Shields after he showed a strong interest in preserving the legacy of the Newport festivals.

“He’s from New England,” Wein told the paper, “and it means a lot to him.”

Shields formed the Festival Network with Richard Sands, the chairman and CEO of Constellation Brands, the largest wine conglomerate in the world, whose brands include Mondavi Wine and Corona beer. Sands will serve as an investor and strategic advisor to the company, with Joseph Stanislaw, former president and CEO of Cambridge Energy Research Associates, as the company’s chairman.

Shields told the New York Times that the focus of the new venture is “destination” music festivals. “It’s core to the business. It doesn’t mean that large cities can’t be destinations as well; we’re not talking about small, affluent destinations alone. But when you think about Monte Carlo, Jackson Hole, Nantucket, Newport, there’s brand in the names already.”

"I've waited for years to find the right partner who can guarantee the legacy of Festival Productions, of which I am so proud. Now I can't wait to see what we can achieve together," said Wein in a prepared statement. "With the vision, executive experience and resources behind The Festival Network, we'll be able to make some long-held dreams come true." –by CelebrityAccess Staff Writers