Attention shoppers! Tony-winning Broadway producer Scott Sanders has sold his self-named company to Westfield Corporation, which builds and operates malls from Los Angeles’ Century City to the redeveloped World Trade Center site in lower Manhattan.
New York-based Westfield announced today that Sanders, who won a best musical revival Tony Award in June for The Color Purple, has been named Westfield’s first-ever Creative Head of Global Entertainment. Scott Sanders Theatrical Productions will be wholly acquired by Westfield, whose portfolio includes 35 malls in the U.S., the U.K. and Italy.
While continuing to produce Broadway shows and other projects, Sanders is charged with “creating immersive entertainment and experiential events destined for Westfield properties around the globe,” according to the announcement from Westfield. His long-time collaborator, Carol Fineman, becomes V.P. for Theatrical Productions and producer and will oversee current and upcoming stage projects. Sandy Block, another principal in the Sanders company, is leaving the company but will remain with Color Purple as producer and marketing director.
Sanders’ move isn’t entirely out of left field. Before devoting himself primarily to Broadway, he produced at Radio City Music Halls and was responsible for events as diverse as Michael Jackson’s 1993 Super Bowl XXVII halftime show.
“I had not been interested in selling,” Sanders told Deadline in a telephone interview today. “But my roots are working in much larger spaces, and I’ve been watching as Cirque du Soleil reinvented the form of live entertainment, with people going into a communal experience.” He met with Westfield co-chief executives Peter and Steven Lowy, whose father, Frank Lowy, founded the company. “They’re very excited about being in the entertainment space,” Sanders said. “They started talking about creating entertainment in their flagship spaces that can tie together with their customers.”
Sanders said the possibilities would not be limited to short-form live entertainment and could include “food, TV, flowers, dance, all forms of entertainment. It is shopping, but they’re got all of this space and the stores close — why not use that space late night on weekends?
Sanders and his team will continue, under the Westfield banner, to oversee development and production of their current slate of Broadway-bound productions including Tootsie, Coal Miner’s Daughter and Up Here as well as the motion picture adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights. Additional stage titles will be announced.
With Sanders’ appointment, Westfield says it will be ‘further deepening its consumer engagement with organically-inspired events and wholly-integrated theatrical experiences tying together high-end retail, music, fashion, food, culture and cinema.”
“As we continue to integrate our digital platform with our physical assets, it is important that we also provide vibrant, exciting places for retailers and consumers,” said Peter Lowy in the corporate announcement. “Scott’s talent and experience will help us create compelling new content and entertainment. This continues our tradition of making our centres about more than just shopping. Live events and entertainment have always been critical to Westfield and Scott will provide a new dimension to our approach and help us further our engagement with our consumers.”