Florida entertainment company throws bash to thank Fort Worth for its welcome

Posted Saturday, Jun. 01, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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With as much fanfare as it could muster, a Florida entertainment company staged “Celebrate Fort Worth Spectacular” — a six-hour musical event downtown Saturday that included such oldies groups as the Marvelettes (”Mr. Postman”) and the Drifters (”Under The Boardwalk”), and climaxing with original music synched to fireworks as a splashy self-introduction to the community.

Chief Executive Rick Silanskas said Saturday that aside from shifting corporate offices from Orlando, Fla., his Dreamvision Co. is looking for a site to build an 80,000 square-foot, $20 million movie studio that would accommodate tours.

And after opening what he described as a “$2 billion, world-class” theme park in South Africa by 2017, Dreamvision would create a similar facility somewhere in North Texas that would evoke Walt Disney’s original, family-value vision in five or six years.

Why set up shop in Fort Worth?

The 55-year-old Silanskas described the North Texas city as a cultural throwback, recalling how a teenager opened the door to a restaurant for him here.

“It’s like I went back in time,” he said of the street-level civility.

When asked what period of time, Silanskas and his “chief creative officer,” a retired Disney executive named Ron Logan, both said “1968.” To them it was not a year of student uprisings, anti-war protests, drugs, sex and rock-and-roll but, quizzically, a year of serenity that evoked the sort of conservative, family-oriented values that were promoted and tapped by Walt Disney, clearly their inspiration.

Little could be found about Silanskas or his company other than online references that he wrote the music for an obscure Ernest Borgnine film, Hoover, released the same year as his 2000 album, Portrait, whose cover described him as the “ambassador of romance.”

In an interview near the start of the day’s event, Silanskas said the Fort Worth studio would be a purpose-built structure costing $20 million to $25 million. He said there were some local investors, but he declined to identify them. The CEO did say he was in talks with the city over possible tax incentives.

Eighteen months ago, Silanskas announced at a Christian Media Association gathering that he was shifting his operations to Dallas. But a spokesman, Greg Fox, said that after being “wined and dined” by various cities in Dallas County, the CEO discovered Fort Worth and switched plans. Silanskas said he’s looking to buy a home in horse country west of the city.

Silanskas declined to say where in South Africa the theme park would be built but said that final arrangements had been made and it would be completed in two to four years. That is to be followed by the North Texas park while another in Asia was under discussion, he said. “It could be China.”

His firm, which he said has mounted musical productions for 15 years, has one short film under its belt, Hooked, and plans another, called Unsung Hero, to be eventually premiered in Fort Worth. The films are produced in Cape Town, South Africa.

Silanskas said he wrote the fireworks-punctuated music, Celebration in the Sky, performed by the Christ Chapel Bible Church Symphonic Orchestra.

Barry Shlachter, 817-390-7718

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