Networking It

By Tom Heath

Ted Leonsis hosted a reception Wednesday night in the auditorium at the National Georgraphic Society for his new documentary, "Kicking It," directed by Susan Koch.

The 93-minute movie premiered at the Sundance Film Festival last month and is expected to be shown at other upcoming film festivals. ESPN purchased the television distribution rights.

Leonsis rounded up his crowd of business associates and friends to help produce the movie, including Raul Fernandez of ObjectVideo, Mark Ein of Venturehouse Group, BET co-founder Sheila Johnson, former AOLer Jack Davies, Capital One co-founder Nigel Morris and former Sporting News chief executive Rick Allen - all of whom have chipped in with plenty of cash, business advice and marketing expertise.

"Kickin' It" tells the story of the 2006 Homeless World Cup, held in Cape Town, South Africa. The documentary fits into Leonsis's model of "filmanthropy" -- using small films to spur debate about social issues and inspire charitable giving. "Nanking," Leonsis's first venture into cinematic philanthropy, made a splash at last year's Sundance Film Festival for its sober retelling of Japanese atrocities against Chinese civilians on the eve of World War II. "Kickin' It" is Koch's pet project.

Davies was master of ceremonies and organized Wednesday's event under the auspices of Venture Philanthropy Partners, which includes Davies, Fernandez, Leonsis as well as others in the Washington business community such as David Bradley of Atlantic Media, real estate mogul Joe Robert and former AOL chairman Steve Case.

JP Morgan was represented as well, including George F. Albright Jr., the bank's D.C. managing director, and his wife, Beth.

Capital One founder and chairman Rick Fairbank, who is one of Ted's partners in the Washington Capitals, was present. So was Rick Kay, another partner in the team. Mayor Adrian Fenty showed up too. Kevin Payne of D.C. United chatted with Leonsis after the film ended, saying he wanted to work with Ted in promoting the project.

By Dan Beyers  |  February 28, 2008; 3:56 PM ET
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