Plymouth Rock Studios Holdings LLC laid off nine employees three weeks ago. The company laid off six employees over the summer. Today, the PRS is looking into smaller office space for its remaining 14 employees, whose energies are concentrated on securing financing for the $404 million project.
Plymouth Rock Studios Holdings LLC laid off nine employees three weeks ago. The company laid off six employees over the summer. Today, the company is looking into smaller office space for its remaining 14 employees, whose energies are concentrated on securing financing for the $404 million project.
“We’re trying to get down to the bare essentials, in terms of need, until the financing is in place. That includes questioning all expenses,” PRS Chief Financial Officer Joseph DiLorenzo said. “We’re looking into our options. Could we move? Absolutely. We’re looking into it.”
Yes, the price tag of the project has changed from the $550 million PRS executives quoted earlier this year. The collapsing economy has created a more competitive construction market and price reductions in materials, DiLorenzo said, all of which have decreased the overall cost of building.
The possibility of moving out of the Cordage Park space is real, but DiLorenzo wouldn’t reveal the alternative spaces being considered.
In addition to saving money, he said, the Cordage Park suite of offices is simply too big for 14 employees.
The changes come in the wake of the Boston Globe’s story that broke in November exposing the financial woes of the executive managing officer of Rock Entertainment, David Kirkpatrick, PRS’s creative visionary. The article also exposed misrepresentation and questionable practices by Prosperity International, the Florida financier PRS had signed with prior to breaking that contract.
Kirkpatrick was referred to repeatedly as the co-founder of PRS two years ago when the studio executives came to town. But days after the Globe story broke Kirkpatrick’s title on the Plymouth Rock Studio Web site changed from PRS chairman and executive managing officer to executive managing officer of Rock Entertainment; “Plymouth Rock Studios” had been dropped from his title.
DiLorenzo said Kirkpatrick is in charge of content, heading up Rock Entertainment LLC as he’s done for the past year, but that he’s not involved in building the studio.
Rock Entertainment LLC was incorporated in Delaware in November of 2008, with The Company Corp. cited as its registered agent. But while this is now his official company, according to DiLorenzo, Kirkpatrick is listed as a manager of Plymouth Rock Studios Holdings LLC as late as June 18 of this year on the Secretary of the Commonwealth Corporations Division Web site. Rock Entertainment is not listed as a subsidiary of Plymouth Rock Studios.
Kirkpatrick’s change in title raises a specter of concern for some who say they’re now confused about his current role with the project.
DiLorenzo stressed that Kirkpatrick is not part of the development and construction team of Plymouth Rock Studios Holdings LLC, because Kirkpatrick’s job is content. Once the project is built, he said, Rock Entertainment, under Kirkpatrick’s leadership, will start cranking out that content.
Headed by Plymouth Rock Studios CEO Earl Lestz, PRS Executive Vice President of Planning and Development Bill Wynne and DiLorenzo, Plymouth Rock Studios Holdings LLC is the company responsible for construction and operations, DiLorenzo added.
“From a PRS perspective, PRS Holdings is the parent company on the development side – handling loans, equity contributions, leasing buildings and studio operations,” he said. “The construction loan will go to the development company.”
Four PRS executives – including Lestz, Wynne and DiLorenzo – serve on PRS Holdings’ board of directors, which includes four shareholders, DiLorenzo said. Meanwhile, DiLorenzo said an executive committee makes all the decisions pertaining to PRS, and that committee includes Lestz, Wynne and DiLorenzo.
And, while team PRS continues to search for financing, all is quiet on the Hollywood East TV Web site and at The Rock Education Cooperative, or TREC, fronts. Daily episodes of The Series chronicling PRS’s progress have stopped at www.hollywoodeasttv.com, and TREC operations have been suspended. DiLorenzo confirmed that TREC Executive Director Kate Ayson, who headed up this nonprofit, educational PRS company, is among the nine who were laid off. He said acting workshops will continue.
When asked whether the layoffs and downsizing are a result of the Globe Spotlight Team’s article, DiLorenzo shook his head.
“The feedback I have received from many parties is that the Globe story was fairly one-sided and might not have told the whole story,” DiLorenzo said. “But the Globe story did have a silver lining. A number of companies and individuals saw that we didn’t get the loan and continue to contact us as a result.”
PRS is currently working with one of the top banks in the world on a loan for the movie studio project, he added. This bank is crunching the numbers on the studio plan, and the feedback thus far has been positive, according to DiLorenzo. Studio executives are also working with the town and state officials in the hopes of obtaining state grants to cover some or all of the infrastructure improvement costs.
“We’ll do whatever makes economic sense to make sure this project succeeds,” DiLorenzo added. “I don’t know when it’s going to happen. I just know our team is committed, and we will continue to work to make this project a success.”