March 29, 1996 in Seven

Take Stock In Hollywood, Just For Fun

Scott Hettrick The Hollywood Reporter
 
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Actors, directors, authors, musicians and hundreds of actual film, TV, book and music projects will soon be converted into stocks and bonds to be traded on a fictitious new Internet stock market called the Hollywood Stock Exchange.

In a kind of fantasy movie mogul game not unlike rotisserie baseball, the Hollywood Stock Exchange will offer users all over the world the chance to pick which movies are worth developing, based on actual daily updates regarding the attachment of directors and actors, as well as budgets and other factors.

HSE is being created by 36-year-old former Wall Street stockbroker-turned writer Max Keiser and Michael Burns, 37, a managing director of the media group for Prudential Securities. Both are based in Los Angeles.

The pair will have a staff of about six people compiling information about the development of movies, TV shows, music and books and updates on those projects from a variety of sources, including trade newspapers like The Hollywood Reporter. Some of those sources will have their Web sites cross-referenced from the HSE Web site (http://www.hsx.com) for virtual traders who wish to read more about current news on projects in which they are investing.

HSE, which will cost users 10 cents per trade and be billed to a charge card in $5 increments, will be officially launched on April 25. A beta test will take place beginning April 9.

“The properties will be traded as if they are commodities,” Burns said, “with a couple of hundred new IPOs (initial public offerings) being offered every few weeks.” Keiser said that talent will be traded like bonds instead of stocks, with bond prices going up and the yield going down on the release of a successful project. Completed projects will be de-listed on the HSE when they have taken in 90% of their anticipated revenues.

Players get $1 million in “Hollywood Dollars” to begin the game and are granted 50 free trades before the commissions begin kicking in. Although prizes such as free trips to Hollywood will be awarded to those with the best portfolio every quarter and annually, Burns said the real lure will be the ego gratification and pleasure of succeeding in show business.

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