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NATPE Expands for '09

The National Association of Television Program Executives (NATPE) is doubling the size of the show floor in the Mandalay Bay Convention Center this January, and the organization announced Rick Feldman has re-upped his contract to continue as president and CEO through 2012.

“Rick Feldman has provided immeasurable contributions to NATPE during the past five years,” said Kevin Beggs, NATPE co-chair and Lionsgate's president of programming and production, in a statement. “His dedication, hard work and leadership have resulted in our association's continued evolution as the world's premier market for content and a valuable showcase for emerging media and technologies across all platforms.”

Now Feldman has to get back to work wooing customers to the 2009 NATPE Market & Conference, to be held Jan. 26-29 at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas.

He says he's actively talking to major studios such as Warner Bros. about returning to the show floor, and to CBS and Sony about returning to the show in general. A Warner Bros. spokeswoman said “no comment” when asked whether the company plans to move back to the floor, rather than stay in private suites where Warner Bros. and others have done business for the last several years. CBS has not made a decision about returning to NATPE, according to a spokeswoman.

Disney-ABC, Twentieth Television, Debmar-Mercury and Program Partners will remain in the suites at TheHotel, which is adjacent to the Mandalay Bay.

While Feldman would like to see as many exhibitors on the floor as possible, “doubling the size of the show floor has more to do with my relationships and negotiations with people at the Mandalay Bay,” he said. “We've developed a nice relationship over a long time, and they've been good with me in terms of trying to figure out ways to do things creatively. We do need to defer those costs, but they are not as onerous as you might think.”

“I wouldn't have done it if I was worried about financial backing from the majors,” he added. “We have 325 companies on the NATPE floor, and they aren't all majors. NATPE exists because a lot of people are making money by selling video content all over the world.”

Jon Feltheimer, Lionsgate's co-chairman and CEO, will deliver the conference's keynote speech on Jan. 27. “Lionsgate really represents where the business is going,” said Feldman during a press conference. “It's like a mini-major, but it doesn't have the legacy that exists at most studios. That makes it a little quicker on the draw and a little more creative.” Lionsgate is the studio responsible for innovative programs such as AMC's Mad Men and Showtime's Weeds.

Other than company booths, this year's floor will have several new features, such as a full-scale restaurant where people can have lunch meetings without leaving the show floor. NATPE also will host the “Celebrity Chef Kitchen,” showcasing TV's top chefs demonstrating their craft. The “B-to-B Lounge” will allow agents, producers and executives without exhibition space or suites to hold meetings, and in the “What's Next” technology laboratory, attendees can check out the latest gadgets, computers and software.

On Jan. 26, instead of running a day-long seminar on mobile platforms, NATPE will offer “Managing Change in a Turbulent Media Landscape,” an all-day executive management program presented in association with USC's Marshall School of Business and an organization called Really Useful Information.

Said Beth Braen, NATPE's senior VP: “It will be an opportunity to learn effective and strategic tools for managing change, which we are all in the midst of right now.”