San Diego The never-aging Dick Clark, who began his career 44 years ago in Philadelphia as the host of that TV teen dance party, American Bandstand, and its forever-popular "Rate-a-Record" segment, has made millions, mostly by merchandising old-time rock and roll and other forms of popular culture. Clark's public company, dick clark Productions, makes awards shows like The 27th Annual American Music Awards, The 57th Annual Golden Globe Awards, and The 35th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards, not to mention The 27th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards.
Clark's Burbank-based company also cranks out game shows like Greed and Your Big Break, variety series like Prime Time Country, so-called "reality" shows for the Fox Network, such as Who Is the Smartest Kid in America? and Beyond Belief, and the syndicated Donny and Marie daytime talk show.
Clark's firm is also responsible for such video gems as TV's Bloopers and Practical Jokes, television movies like The Good Doctor: The Paul Fleiss Story, about the father of Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss, and Elvis and the Colonel: The Untold Story, as well as radio's nostalgic Dick Clark's Rock, Roll, and Remember. He even licenses his name and that of his shows, including Bandstand and New Year's Rockin' Eve, for use by state lotteries and slot machines in Las Vegas.
Lately, the company has jumped into the restaurant business with a chain of "Dick Clark's American Bandstand Grills" and "Dick Clark's AB Diners," now in nine locations throughout the Midwest, where Clark has long had a fierce following of female baby-boomers, who once swooned over his movie debut as an inner-city high school teacher in 1960's Because They're Young.
Now, Clark, who turned 71 on November 30, has embarked on yet another venture he and his partner hope will net them millions. Clark and his longtime business partner, cable television entrepreneur Dick Lubic, have formed a public company to build what Lubic says will be a $200 million, state-of-the-art Internet, cable television, and phone system for Tijuana. The installation, according to a company disclosure document, "will ultimately be part of one of Latin America's largest broadband fiber-optic networks, comprising more than 2000 miles of broadband cable in the northwest Mexican cities of Tijuana and Mexicali, Baja California."
So far, though, their efforts have been dogged by falling stock prices, lawsuits, allegations of stolen securities, and questions raised by the involvement in the venture of Carlos Bustamante, a Tijuana businessman whose wealthy family is linked to fallen San Diego financier Richard Silberman, his ex-wife Susan Golding, and their one-time friend, ex-California Governor Jerry Brown. The official groundbreaking, Lubic says, is set for later this month next to a Bustamante-owned maquiladora plant in the neighborhood of Matamoros on the east side of Tijuana.
"We're going to do a promotion with Dick Clark with a hard hat on standing by all this equipment, because it's the new millennium, changing from rock and roll to broadband communication and adjusting from the old-style entertainment to the new style. That'll be the lead story," says the genial, fast-talking Lubic, interviewed by telephone from his office at a tiny Tehachapi cable company he and Clark's new company, called InfoAmerica, own on the edge of the Mojave Desert.
"We'll do that promotion in Spanish and English to different news organizations, because we always have to go out and raise money. It's the classic story. But with Dick Clark we get on CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, Mexican stations, news magazines, newspapers, the whole works," says Lubic, to whom Clark's Burbank office refers calls regarding the venture. "I'm going to Europe at the end of the week. I gotta go to about ten different cities, to visit investors and raise more money.
"Dick Clark and I have put up approximately $25 million already, and we've raised approximately another $10 million," Lubic claims. "And then we're always constantly raising money with investors in Europe -- most of our investors are in Europe. And then what we'll do is probably an offering. As soon as we get 5000 or 7000 or maybe 10,000 subscribers on cable in, we'll go back into the stock market. Right now you don't want to go into the market, but in the spring or early summer. There is also debt-financing and bank-financing. Right now we don't have any debt; we put up all the money." Clark and Lubic are no strangers to Tijuana. A mid-'90s effort by the pair to build a digital-communications system there with links to universities and hotels almost immediately ran into trouble. Instead, it spawned a series of bitter lawsuits and nasty charges and countercharges between Clark, Lubic, and their one-time La Jolla and Mexican partners, who claimed their deal collapsed because Lubic and Clark did not come through with millions of dollars of financing they had allegedly promised. "Dick Clark and I formed a Mexican company called Astrovision," explains Lubic, "and Astrovision bought licenses in Mexico from a group in La Jolla, and the La Jolla group turned out to be not nice people. They misrepresented a lot of things. They sued us, and we went to federal district court in New York and we won."
By 1997, Clark and Lubic had met up with Mexican tycoon Bustamante, formed an outfit named Cable California, and announced they were on the way to building a cable TV system for Tijuana. "The system will provide cable TV, telephone, and high-speed data services to an expected 250 to 300,000 customers by 2000," reported Multichannel News International in May of that year. "Mexico really has been very backward in the sense of having the old-style cable without upgrading," the publication quoted Bustamante as saying.
Lubic says he first met Bustamante through Orange County developer Donald Koll. "Carlos Bustamante and Don Koll were on the board of Atlas Hotels in San Diego, and I knew Don Koll as a business associate, and he introduced me to Carlos, and Carlos and I became friends and he became a partner. Don Koll owned a hotel in Cabo San Lucas, and Carlos owned a hotel in Tijuana."