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Color Barney Green After EMI Records Group Deal : Children’s recordings: The purple dinosaur’s ‘multi-year, multi-album’ deal is for ‘seven figures,’ firm’s CEO says. Barney’s first album is due in August.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

How does a certain purple dinosaur spell success?

E-M-I Records Group.

Barney, star of public TV’s mega-hit children’s series, is already worth mega-millions in merchandising revenues for toys, lunchboxes, videos, etc. Now, in a big-bucks deal, EMI Records Group has won the distribution rights to Barney’s audio recordings.

The first “Barney Music” release is set for late August.

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Daniel Glass, the record conglomerate’s CEO and president, would confirm Thursday only that the “multi-year, multi-album” deal with Lyons Group, Barney’s marketing company, was “seven figures.”

Sources say that the company beat out several major record labels for the North American rights.

“It’s a big deal,” Glass said. “Barney’s the biggest. (The albums) will be in every record store,” plus stores such as “J.C. Penney, K mart and Wal-Mart. We came in as an underdog in getting it and they loved us. We really felt that Barney was going to be around in 20 years, like Mickey Mouse or something like that.”

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Glass expects Barney to outperform the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the company’s other character-driven venture. “That deal, we sold about a million and a half albums,” he said. But “it was much more of a trend. They will continue to do well, but Barney’s an institution for preschoolers. “The pre-orders are like seven figures. It’s fantastic. The demand is incredible.”

Lyons Group attorney Barry Slotnick, who takes pains to reject the term “competition” in the choice of EMI Records Group, said that the number of records “could conceivably vary depending on the nature of the types of things we do over the next couple of years.”

Sheryl Leach, Barney’s creator and co-executive producer (with Kathy Parker and Dennis DeShazer), said that the audio deal comes after a “moratorium” Lyons Group put on new licensing last October.

Aware of criticism that some have leveled at Barney merchandising, Leach said, “We only have 33 licenses, compared to ‘Sesame Street’s’ and Disney’s hundreds, if not thousands.” The moratorium was imposed “to keep the group of licensees small and work with them toward building integrity and quality into the products.”

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The Record Group won out because “of the team there. Most of (them) are parents and when I went to visit and saw their presentation . . . there was a greater sense of dedication and understanding about who Barney is.”

Now that his recording career is locked in, Barney has his goggly eye on Hollywood. “All the major studios are interested,” Leach said, in Barney’s upcoming big-screen debut, slated for summer, 1995.


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