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IFE buys Dorothy Hamill's Ice Capades

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz., June 8 -- Televangelist Pat Robertson's International Family Entertainment has agreed to buy the Ice Capades from ice skating star Dorothy Hamill and her husband, it was announced Wednesday.

The Virginia Beach, Va.-based parent company of The Family Channel cable network said Hamill and her husband, Dr. Kenneth Forsythe, will continue as producers of the theatrical ice shows. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

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The deal calls for IFE to purchase the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Ice Capades and other assets of Dorothy Hamill International. Hamill will be president and Forsythe will serve as chief executive officer of a new IFE subsidiary created to acquire the assets of Dorothy Hamill International.

Hamill and her husband maintain a percentage stake in Dorothy Hamill International, said Hamill spokeswoman Sarah Baldwin.

The couple formed Dorothy Hamill International, the company that purchased the 55-year-old Ice Capades last year with Alaskan businessman Ben Tisdale. Hamill and Forsythe had been seeking a new investor because Tisdale is no longer with the company.

While the privately held company did not release specific figures, Baldwin said the Ice Capades posted a profit in 1993 and the figures were up 25 percent from the previous year.

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The company's other assets include an 'ice' soundstage in a converted Scottsdale, Ariz., airplane hangar used as a practice and staging rink and for filming ice show commercials.

IFE said it will produce a number of television specials with Dorothy Hamill International for IFE's core cable network, The Family Channel. The company's distribution arm, MTM Entertainment, will sell the shows for network broadcast, foreign and domestic syndication and home video.

Baldwin said the partnership will fund other Dorothy Hamill International projects in addition to the TV specials.

A 1993 survey by Sports Marketing Group of Dallas found Hamill to be 'America's most beloved athlete of all time.' The same survey found that women's figure skating is the second most popular sport after NFL football and ahead of major league baseball, NBA basketball and college football.

Last week, CBS announced plans next fall to replace the NFL games it lost to Fox with women-oriented programming that includes ice skating. Interest in the sport also was spurred this year by the Tonya Harding- Nancy Kerrigan controversy, which helped CBS post record ratings for the 1994 Winter Olympics.

Hamill won a gold medal at the 1976 Winter Olympics and made her first appearance with the Ice Capades the same year. She won the world championship later that year, and won four straight World Professional Figure Skating championships from 1984 to 1987.

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