Comedy Central Crafts New Live Entertainment Division

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Comedy Central has established a new business division aimed at buttressing its position in the world of performance.

Comedy Central Live Entertainment, focusing on stand-up tours, comedy festivals, performance DVDs and CDs, will be headed by Mitch Fried, the former senior vice president of promotion marketing. Fried, now senior vice president of the new unit, had overseen Comedy Central Live!, the network’s stand-up touring business, which has sold some 1.5 million tickets and generated $60 million in box office receipts, since its inception in 2002.

In addition to increasing Comedy Central’s presence on the stand-up circuit and, through strategic partnerships, its visibility on the comedy festival circuit, Fried will also spearhead the network's efforts to maximize live performance exposure and revenue across already established business lines. Serving as a liaison among talent, their management and other Comedy Central divisions, including Comedy Central Records label, Comedy Central Home Entertainment DVDs and on-air Comedy Central Original Stand-up Specials, Fried will seek to expand the business partnerships between the network and the talent community through overall package deals with top comedians that could encompass any combination of a nationwide tour, a one-hour, on-air special, a DVD release and a CD release.

One of the first projects under the new division centers on comedian Stephen Lynch, who starred in Broadway's "The Wedding Singer" and has been featured in two of the network’s half-hour specials. The deal encompasses a major-market U.S. stand-up tour and, in a first for Comedy Central Live, an international stand-up tour that will visit London, Ireland, Sweden, Holland and more. Moreover, a one-hour stand-up special will premiere on the network before being released, unedited, on DVD via Comedy Central Home Entertainment.

"Creating the Live Entertainment division is the next step in the evolution of the Comedy Central brand that has been steadily growing and expanding out of our viewers' living rooms and into their everyday lives," said Comedy Central president Michelle Ganeless in a statement.

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