Rick Feldman inks deal with NATPE

Will head organization through 2012

NATPE president and CEO Rick Feldman has inked a new three-year deal, keeping him atop the organization through spring 2012.

Meanwhile, NATPE is shaking things up at its annual Market & Conference, doubling the show floor to also include a restaurant and B2B lounge as well as adding a day of executive management sessions. Lionsgate co-chairman and CEO Jon Feltheimer is set to give the keynote address on the Tuesday morning of the confab, which runs Jan. 26-29 at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas.

Feldman and NATPE co-chair Kevin Beggs, president of programming and production at Lionsgate, made the announcements Tuesday, saying the goal of the expanded show floor and new features is to encourage attendees to stay on the floor to do business.

"There was a consensus that we needed to make the floor a real destination," Feldman said of the 2009 confab, whose theme is "Content, Commerce, Connections." "Hopefully, the people in the suites will come down and stay a bit longer as well. We're trying to make the floor the richest experience we can."

To that end, the Signature Restaurant & Cafe and B2B lounge will offer additional meeting space on the floor. Other new floor features include the What's Next Demo Lab, Digital Theater and Celebrity Chef Kitchen for various demonstrations and a Networking Lounge with e-mail kiosks and charging stations for electronics. NATPE also will offer free wireless Internet on the exhibit floor.

Feldman declined to specify which of the major distributors will be returning to the floor, saying only that "the floor will look very similar" next year. In 2008, CBS and Sony chose not to have an official presence at the conference, while Warner Bros.' domestic division returned to the floor after five years in the suites at TheHotel. Sony isn't expected to return to NATPE, and a spokesperson for CBS said no decision has been made, but Feldman said he's actively talking to Sony and CBS. "There's a lot of moving parts, but it's all encouraging," he said.

Warners declined comment on its plans for the 2009 conference. NBC Universal, which typically is on the floor, couldn't be reached for comment. Disney, Twentieth, MGM, Debmar-Mercury and Program Partners are all returning to the suites next year.

Meanwhile, the Mobile++ event, which has taken place for the past four years on the Monday before NATPE officially gets under way, will be replaced by a daylong executive management program presented in association with the USC Marshall School of Business/RUI titled "Managing Change in a Turbulent Media Landscape." The program will include speakers from the media industry and professors and educators from USC.