Tom McGrath (media executive)

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Tom McGrath
B&W Head Shot.jpg
Born 1956
Occupation Media Executive
Crossroads Media, Inc.
Nationality USA
Education Harvard University
Harvard Business School
Genre Film MusicTheater
Notable awards Tony Award, Drama Desk Award, Olivier Award

Tom McGrath (born 1956) is an American media executive and the current Chief Operating Officer of STX Entertainment. He is Senior Managing Director of Crossroads Media, Inc. an entertainment industry specialist investor and consulting firm. He was previously the Executive Chairman and co-owner of Key Brand Entertainment, a leading producer and distributor of live theatre in the United States and parent of e-commerce web site He is currently on the Board of Prime Focus World. He serves on the Advisory Council to the Office of the Arts at Harvard, the Board of Directors of the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, a member of The Recording Academy and is Member of the Board of Trustees of The New England Conservatory of Music and the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, MA.

Early life and education[edit]

McGrath grew up in Washington, DC, graduated from St. John's College High School ('72), received his A.B. at 19[1] from Harvard and earned his M.B.A. there as well. At Harvard he was music director of the Hasty Pudding Theatricals and conductor of both the Harvard University Band and the Harvard-Radcliffe Gilbert and Sullivan Players.


McGrath began his career as a musician, performing in the orchestra at the Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts outside Washington, DC, while in college. After college he was a Broadway press agent at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, work that included the original Broadway production of Annie and the first national tour of A Chorus Line.[2] He also handled the U.S. Bicentennial visits in 1976 of the La Scala Opera, Berlin Opera, The Royal Ballet, Cuban National Ballet, Bolshoi Opera and Ballet and the Stuttgart Ballet. These visits included La Bohème with José Carreras and the world premiere of Russian dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov's production of Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker.[3][4][5]

Columbia Pictures (The Coca-Cola Company)[edit]

While in business school, McGrath wrote a thesis on future potential of the home videocassette for film distribution which brought him to the attention of Columbia Picture's then CEO, Fay Vincent (later the commissioner of Major League Baseball). McGrath was then hired by Columbia Pictures in 1980 to start a home video distribution company as well as set up a licensing regime for the emerging pay TV channels such as HBO and Showtime, at a time when few had even heard of a videocassette. While at Columbia, McGrath wrote an econometric paper on movie theaters and video competition that contributed to the US Justice Department lifting the 30-year old "Paramount Consent Decree" which had prohibited film companies from owning movie theaters—after which Columbia became the first motion picture studio since 1954 to acquire a chain of movie theaters. McGrath also led the formation of TriStar Pictures, a partnership of Columbia, HBO and CBS—the first new movie studio in fifty years—which survives to this day as part of Sony Entertainment.[6] With Warner Brothers, Fox, Goldcrest Films and Thorn/EMI, McGrath formed Premiere International, Europe's first Pay TV service. McGrath also led the acquisition of Belwin-Mills Music by Columbia,[7] as well as Embassy Television (All in the Family, among many other shows)[8] and Merv Griffin productions (Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy).[9] While at Columbia the studio was the winner of the Best Picture Academy Award for Gandhi and Chariots of Fire and the Golden Globe award for Best Comedy Film for Tootsie. Other films produced/released during his tenure included Ghostbusters, Annie, The Karate Kid and Stripes. The studio also pioneered the production of the major "concert film" for comedy with multiple successes featuring Richard Pryor.

President and CEO, Act III Communications[edit]

After Columbia, McGrath started up Act III Communications in partnership with famed TV writer Norman Lear, Bert Ellis, Scott Wallace and Paul Schaeffer. Act III was the first non-industry player to acquire movie theaters in a move that subsequently led to virtually all the major movie theater chains being acquired by financial players. Act III acquires Santikos Theaters in San Antonio, TX in 1987 [10] and in 1989, Luxury Theaters based in Portland, Oregon owned by Tom Moyer.[11] Act III also owned TV stations (eventually becoming the largest Fox Network affiliate when that network was starting up), trade magazines such as Channels and produced a the motion pictures listed below. Act III Theatres was eventually sold to KKR for approximately $700 million.[12][13] At the time of sale the circuit consisted of 793 screens at 124 locations and was the 6th largest theater chain in the United States. The TV station group, which consisted of eight Fox Network affiliates and two additional stations under Local Management Agreements, were sold to ABRY Partners for approximately $500 million, achieving a 600% return on investment.[14])[15]

President of Time Warner International Broadcasting[edit]

McGrath moved on in 1990 to become President of Time Warner International Broadcasting, where he worked with Steve Ross and HBO's Jeff Bewkes, now CEO of Time Warner; to take advantage of the deregulation of media internationally by launching radio and TV channels such as Classic FM in the UK, Channel Five (UK), VIVA-TV (Germany), the first major competitor to MTV and the only one to beat them in local ratings,[16] NTV a German language 24-hour news network in partnership with CNN, VOX (TV) a national German TV network with Bertelsmann, and others.

Chief Operating Officer, Viacom Entertainment Group[edit]

After Time Warner International, McGrath became chief operating officer of the Viacom Entertainment Group following Viacom's acquisition of Paramount Pictures in 1994. During McGrath's tenure, Paramount received "Best Picture" Academy Awards for Titanic, Braveheart and Forrest Gump and "Best Comedy Series" Emmy Awards for Frasier. Other films produced at Paramount during this period included the Golden Globe Winner Saving Private Ryan and We Were Soldiers.

At Viacom McGrath headed up Famous Players Theaters which eventually obtained a 50% share of the Canadian market, and United Cinemas International which led the effort to modernize international movie theaters by building almost 1,300 movie theater screens in 13 countries including Brazil, China, Italy, Japan, Germany and others.[17] McGrath acted as chairman of Famous Music, Paramount's music publishing subsidiary, doubling net publisher's share; also heading up licensing and merchandising (launching the Cheers and Bubba Gump Shrimp Company restaurant chains) and corporate finance.

McGrath also led up the build-up of the Paramount TV station group from 14 local independents to 27 stations for the launch of the UPN network, formerly America's fifth major broadcast network. In new technology, he led the formation of Digital Cinema Initiatives, a movie studio effort to define standards for digital cinema projection, served on the committee for advanced DVD standards, formed the studio joint venture "Movielink" to offer internet downloading of major feature films, and led industry efforts to both combat internet film piracy and create viable online alternatives.

While at Paramount, McGrath formalized and rationalized the use of off-balance-sheet film financing, making it an indispensable tool of modern film making, including over $4bn in German tax partnerships, $2bn in UK sale-leasebacks and the Melrose Film Partners "slate" financing.[18][19] Other accomplishments included the acquisition and mergers of Viacom Television, Spelling TV and Rysher Entertainment (more than doubling Paramount's TV library) and heading up Paramount's theme park division, then the fifth largest theme park operator in North America.

Executive Chairman, Key Brand Entertainment[edit]

On January 25, 2008 McGrath, in partnership with UK producer John Gore, had acquired the live theater division of Live Nation known as "Broadway Across America". The company trades under the parent name Key Brand Entertainment[20]

BAA is among the largest producer and touring production company for Broadway musicals in the US. The company includes theaters in Boston, Baltimore and Minneapolis and a touring subscription series in 42 cities across the US. It also has interests in NETworks Presentations LLC, a producer of touring musicals, and The Booking Group, a New York-based booking agency specializing in touring theatrical productions.

In December 2010 Key Brand acquired from Hollywood Media Corp. is a secondary ticketing company specializing in tickets for Broadway and off-Broadway shows. The company operates the e-commerce website[21] In January 2013 Key Brand acquired the Broadway discount ticketing website BroadwayBox.[22]


Films produced by Act III Communications under McGrath include: Fried Green Tomatoes, Stand by Me,Breaking In, and The Princess Bride.


McGrath is a six-time Tony and Drama Desk award winner. First-class theatrical productions set up by McGrath include:

Arsenic and Old Lace, Vacanza Romana (Roman Holiday), Irving Berlin's White Christmas, Footloose,Saturday Night Fever, Urban Cowboy, Flashdance, First Wive Club, Johnny Guitar, Ghost, Sunset Boulevard and the stage adaptation of Happy Days with Gary Marshall. McGrath received the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play in 2008 for Boeing-Boeing and the 2008 Drama Desk Award for best New Musical for Passing Strange.. He received a Tony and Drama Desk Awards for Best Revival of a Musical for Hair at the 2009 awards ceremony. McGrath received the Olivier Award for Best New Musical for the London production of Spring Awakening at the 2010 BAFTA Awards. In 2010 McGrath received Tony and Drama Desk Awards for Best Musical Revival for La Cage aux Folles and for Best Musical for Memphis. He was also nominated for Best Revival of a Play for A View From The Bridge. In 2011, as a member of Warhorse LP, he was a Tony winner for Warhorse. In 2012 he won the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical for The Gershwin's Porgy and Bess.

In July 2013 McGrath announced a joint venture with Tony Award-winning producer Kevin McCollum and film producer John Davis to develop stage productions from the film library of 20th Century Fox. The partnership aims to identify properties from the Fox film library suitable for stage adaptation, and then shepherd those projects through creative development, reading and workshop phases.[23]

Produced on Broadway[edit]

  • All The Way [Play, Drama, Original] As Trustee A.R.T. Mar 06, 2014 - Jun 29, 2014 [24]
  • The Glass Menagerie[Play, Drama, Revival] As Trustee A.R.T. Sep 26, 2013 - Feb 23, 2014
  • Big Fish [Musical, Drama, Original] Oct 06, 2013 -
  • Hands on a Hardbody [Musical, Original] Mar 21, 2013 - Apr 13, 2013
  • The Anarchist [Play, Drama, Original] Dec 02, 2012 - Dec 16, 2012
  • Chaplin [Musical, Original] Sep 10, 2012 - Jan 06, 2013
  • Leap of Faith [Musical, Original] Apr 26, 2012 - May 13, 2012
  • Jesus Christ Superstar [Revival, Musical, Drama] Mar 22, 2012 – Jul 1, 2012
  • The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess [Revival, Musical, Opera] Jan 12, 2012 - Sep 30, 2012
  • Lysistrata Jones [Original, Musical, Comedy] Dec 14, 2011 - Jan 8, 2012
  • On a Clear Day You Can See Forever [Original, Musical, Comedy] Dec 11, 2011 - Jan 29, 2012
  • Bonnie and Clyde [Original, Musical, Drama] Dec 1, 2011 - Dec 30, 2011
  • Godspell [Revival, Musical] Nov 7, 2011 - Jun 24, 2012
  • The Mountaintop [Original, Play, Drama] Oct 13, 2011 - Jan 22, 2012
  • Jerusalem [Original, Play, Drama] Apr 21, 2011 - Aug 21, 2011
  • War Horse [Original, Play, Drama] Apr 14, 2011 – In assoc. with War Horse LP
  • How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying [Revival, Musical, Comedy] March 27, 2011 – May 20, 2012
  • Priscilla, Queen of the Desert [Original, Musical, Comedy] March 20, 2011 – Present
  • The Merchant of Venice [Revival, Play, Drama] November 13, 2010 - February 20, 2011
  • Harry Connick, Jr. in Concert [Original, Special, Concert, Solo] July 15, 2010 - July 29, 2010
  • La Cage Aux Folles [Revival, Musical, Comedy] Apr 18, 2010 - May 1, 2011
  • Fela! (Assoc. Producer) [Original, Musical, Comedy] Nov 23, 2009 - Jan 2, 2011
  • Promises, Promises [Revival, Musical, Comedy] Apr 25, 2010 - Jan 2, 2011
  • Million Dollar Quartet [Original, Musical, Comedy] Apr 11, 2010 - Jun 12, 2011
  • Lend Me A Tenor [Revival, Comedy, Play] April 4, 2010 - August 15, 2010
  • Dreamgirls in Assoc. with Tokyo Broadcasting; Bunkamura Theater Tokyo, Japan May 22-June 4, 2010
  • A View From the Bridge [Revival, Play, Drama] January 24, 2010 - April 4, 2010
  • A Little Night Music [Revival, Musical, Comedy] December 13, 2009 - January 9, 2011
  • Irving Berlin's White Christmas [Original, Musical, Comedy] November 13, 2009 - January 4, 2010
  • Memphis [Original, Musical, Comedy] October 19, 2009 - Current
  • Desire Under the Elms [Revival, Play, Drama] April 27, 2009 - May 24, 2009
  • Hair [Revival, Musical, Drama] March 26, 2009 - May 30, 2009
  • God of Carnage [Original, Play, Comedy] March 22, 2009 - June 6, 2010
  • Impressionism [Original, Play, Drama] March 24, 2009 - May 10, 2009
  • Blithe Spirit [Revival, Play, Comedy] March 15, 2009 - July 19, 2009
  • Xanadu (Tokyo, Japan; in Assoc. with Tokyo Broadcasting) May 9–31, 2009
  • A Chorus Line (Tokyo, Japan; In Association with TBS Events)August 12 - September 30, 2009
  • Minsky's [Original, Musical, Comedy]Premieres Broadway 2011 Original Production Ahmanson Theater Los Angeles
  • West Side Story [Revival, Musical, Drama] Mar 19, 2009 - Present
  • Irving Berlin's White Christmas [Original, Musical] November 23 - January 4, 2009
  • title of show [Original, Musical, Comedy] July 17, 2008 - October 12, 2008
  • 13 [Original, Musical, Comedy] October 5, 2008 - January 4, 2009
  • Boeing-Boeing [Revival, Play, Comedy] May 4, 2008 - January 4, 2009
  • A Catered Affair [Original, Musical] Apr 17, 2008 - July 27, 2008
  • Passing Strange [Original, Musical] February 28, 2008 - July 20, 2008
  • Cirque Dreams [Original, Special, Circus] June 26, 2008 - August 24, 2008[25]

Produced in the London West End[edit]

  • Million Dollar Quartet' (Noël Coward Theatre) February 28, 2011 – present
  • Sweet Charity (Theatre Royal Haymarket London) April 23, 2010 - November 8, 2010
  • Spring Awakening (Novello Theatre, London) March 21, 2009 - May 31, 2009 (Olivier Award, Best New Musical)
  • Hair (Gielgud Theatre) April 14, 2010 - September 4, 2010
  • Saturday Night Fever (London Palladium) from the film by Paramount Pictures May 5, 1998 - Feb 26, 2000

Produced at Paramount Pictures[edit]

  • Barefoot in the Park [Revival, Play, Comedy] in assoc. with Paramount Pictures February 16, 2006 - May 21, 2006
  • Vacanze Romane ("Roman Holiday") Opened February 16, 2004 Teatro Il Sistina; Rome, Italy
  • Johnny Guitar, The Musical (Off Broadway - Century Center) from the film by Paramount Pictures 2004 (2004 Outer Critics' Circle Best New Musical)
  • Urban Cowboy [Original, Musical] from the film by Paramount Pictures March 27, 2003 - May 18, 2003
  • The Wild Party [Original, Musical, Drama] April 13, 2000 - June 11, 2000
  • Saturday Night Fever [Original, Musical]Based on the film by Paramount/RSO October 21, 1999 - December 30, 2000
  • Footloose [Original, Musical, Comedy]Based on the film by Paramount Pictures October 22, 1998 - July 2, 2000
  • A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum [Revival, Musical, Comedy] April 18, 1996 - January 4, 1998
  • Roman Holiday in assoc. with Toho Productions Premiere October, 1998 Tokyo, Japan
  • Seven Guitars [Original, Play, Drama] March 28, 1996 - September 8, 1996

Produced at Act III Communications[edit]

  • Arsenic and Old Lace [Revival, Play, Comedy] Produced by Act III Communications June 19, 1986 - January 3, 1987[26]

Represented as a press agent; produced by The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts[edit]

  • Annie [Original, Musical, Comedy] Apr 21, 1977 - Jan 2, 1983
  • Music Is [Original, Musical, Comedy] Dec 20, 1976 - Dec 26, 1976
  • The Merchant [Original, Play] Nov 16, 1977 - Nov 20, 1977
  • Caesar and Cleopatra [Revival, Play, Comedy] Feb 24, 1977 - Mar 5, 1977
  • Dirty Linen & New-Found-Land [Original, Play, Farce] Jan 11, 1977 - May 28, 1977
  • Fiddler on the Roof [Revival, Musical, Comedy, Drama] Dec 28, 1976 - May 21, 1977
  • A Texas Trilogy [Original, Play] Sep 21, 1976 - Oct 30, 1976[27]

Theatrical Exhibition[edit]

McGrath has a particular association with theatrical exhibition. In 1948 the U.S. Supreme Court decided the major film studios (Paramount, Universal etc.) must divest themselves of their movie theaters (the "Paramount Consent Decree.") In 1985 Columbia Pictures, then a unit of The Coca-Cola Company, acquired a 58% interest in Walter Reade cinemas in New York. Columbia (which had not been a signatory to the original decree as it had owned no Theaters then) submitted an econometric study by McGrath showing that the inter-relationship and growth of the Home Video, cable TV and subscription Pay TV businesses mitigated the argument that theatrical exhibition was a distinct and unique product market. The deal went forward and Tri-Star Pictures, Warner Brothers, Universal and Paramount all subsequently acquired movie theaters.[28]

At Act III McGrath built what was then the 6th largest theater circuit (Scott Wallace, president), notable for its early adoption of digital sound and extensive roll-out of the THX sound system.[29] While at Paramount McGrath led the development of stadium-seated cinemas building 800+ stadium screens in Canada at Famous Players, eventually achieving a 50% market share. He spurred the rebirth of the contemporary international cinema business by building some 1,300 screens in stadium-seated "megaplexes" in 13 countries at United Cinemas International (UCI).[30] From 2006 to 2013 McGrath served as a board member of Cineworld, the leading UK theatrical exhibitor. His association began with the acquisition and consolidation of several UK cinema chains under Blackstone, through the company's IPO on the London Stock Exchange in April 2007 and thereafter.[31]

McGrath also pioneered the use of screen advertising in cinemas first at UCI in England (Joe Peixoto, president) and then introducing the idea to North America at Famous Players.[32] He is responsible for the 2001, $15mm renovation of the historic Grumann's Chinese Theater in Hollywood which included the replication of the original tapestries, carpets and drapes from the designer's hand-cut templates. With AMC and Sumner Redstone's Showcase, he formed the online movie ticketing company[33]

Finally, McGrath led the formation of Digital Cinema Initiatives, a joint venture of the major studios, which developed the standards and technology for the introduction of digital cinema.[34] In 2006 he worked with Blackstone to acquire Cineworld, the largest (by box office) theater circuit in the UK (Steve Wiener, ceo) which went public in the Spring of 2007.[35] Cineworld's achievements include leading the introduction of "3D" exhibition technology and currently has more than 50% of the "3D" screens in the UK and Ireland.[36]

Senior Managing Director, Crossroads Media[edit]

McGrath is currently Senior Managing Director of Crossroads Media, a private equity backed acquisition vehicle. McGrath also serves on the boards of Cineworld (UK), The Aramid Entertainment Fund (a specialty hedge fund for the entertainment industry), Prime Focus World and previously on the boards of Movie Gallery, Universal Studios (Orlando), Classic Media TV and Cineworld (UK) which he took public with Blackstone UK in 2007.[37]

Bug Music[edit]

Crossroads acquired a controlling interest in Bug Music, which manages the catalogs of Johnnie Cash, Willie Dixon, Annie Roboff, Harry Ruby, Stevie Ray Vaughan and others. In June 2007 Bug Music acquired Windswept Music from Fuji (Japan), in 2011 they acquired Countdown Music in Germany. At the time of its sale to BMG, Bug was the largest independent music publisher in North America.[38] The acquisition of Windswept which added the '60s catalog "Trio/Quartet" to Bug, included songs such as "(You Give Me) Fever,""Do You Believe in Magic," Summer in the City" and others. In September 2011 Crossroads sold Bug to BMG Music Publishing.[39]


  1. ^ Facebook Profile
  2. ^ Darling, Lynn (January 1, 1977). "Bicentennial Hailed for Its Legacies". The Washington Post. 
  3. ^ Mikhail Baryshnikov Profile
  4. ^ Meersman, Roger (1980). "The Kennedy Center: From Dream to Reality". Records of the Columbia Historical Society
  5. ^ Kriegsman, Alan M. (January 2, 1977). "The New 'Nutcracker': An Artistic Coup". The Washington Post. 
  6. ^ Columbia Tristar Motion Picture Companies History
  7. ^ "Columbia Pictures Entertainment Acquires Belwin-Mills" Thomson Reuters March 25, 1985
  8. ^ "Coke Buys Embassy & Tandem" The Washington Post June 18, 1985
  9. ^ Yoshihara, Nancy (February 19, 1986). "Coke Will Buy Merv Griffin Enterprises". The Los Angeles Times. 
  10. ^ Santikos Theaters History
  11. ^ Thomas P. Moyer Biography
  12. ^ "KKR, Hicks Muse to Combine Theater Chains, Acquire Regal" Wall St. Journal January 20, 1998
  13. ^ "Getting it on in Act III" Variety October 16, 1997
  14. ^ Broadcast Executive
  15. ^ Norman Lear's Act III Selling 8 TV Stations NY Times June 22, 1995
  16. ^ Hans-Jürgen Jakobs (10 January 2005). "Der V-Faktor". Süddeutsche Zeitung. Retrieved 26 April 2012. 
  17. ^ Dodona Research "Cinema Exhibitors Database" (by Subscription)
  18. ^ "How to Finance A Feature Film German Tax Shelters"
  19. ^ "Slate Financing Overview" v3.0
  20. ^ "Live Nation Sells Off Theater Division" Variety January 24, 2008
  21. ^ "Media Mogul Builds Broadway Empire" from Crain's New York Business December 30, 2009
  22. ^ Bloomberg News January 15, 2013
  23. ^ Kevin McCollum, John Davis and Tom McGrath Pact With Fox on Theatrical Joint Venture
  24. ^ Internet Broadway Data Base American Repertory Theater
  25. ^ Internet Broadway Data Base Thomas B. McGrath
  26. ^ Act III Productions
  27. ^ John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
  28. ^ Box-Office Potential Entices Large Chains, Movie Makers from Los Angeles Times July 27, 1986
  29. ^ "Paramount Revisited: the Resurgence of Vertical Integration in the Motion Picture Industry" Hofstra Law Review Winter 1992
  30. ^ The Business of Media: Corporate Media and the Public Interest (pp. 71-107), by David Croteau and William Hoynes, 2001
  31. ^ Blackstone to IPO Cineworld
  32. ^ Cineplex Odeon Corporate History
  33. ^ PR Newswire December 15, 2000
  34. ^ Studios Do Digital Dance from Variety July 27, 2005
  35. ^ Blackstone Press Release December 2, 2004
  36. ^
  37. ^ Cineworld Sets IPO Price
  38. ^ Billboard October 16, 2010 "Bug Music 35th Anniversary"
  39. ^ BMG Acquires Bug Music, Financial Times September 12, 2011


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