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Oldest Studio Snatches Youngest One

Oldest Studio Snatches Youngest One The 11-year-old dream of Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen to create a 21st-century movie studio that would rival and even surpass the famous ones of the past came to a sorry end Sunday as Hollywood's oldest and most troubled studio, Paramount, agreed to buy DreamWorks SKG for about $775 million in cash and the assumption of $825 million in debt. Paramount indicated that it plans to finance the deal in part by quickly selling off DreamWorks' 60-film library, which it valued at between $850 million and $1 billion, to an investment group. The deal was concluded after months of earlier negotiations between DreamWorks and GE's NBC Universal foundered. In a conference call with reporters on Sunday, David Geffen, who will hold the title of chairman of the new DreamWorks, noted that he had been in discussions with the GE-owned entertainment unit for nine months when Paramount chief Brad Grey "called me up and said he wanted to get into [the bidding]. ... In one week they managed to deliver." In a separate interview with the New York Times, Geffen said that he found deal with with GE "unpleasant and difficult" and that the the company's executives acted as if "we had no choice and were going to squeeze us and squeeze us." Speaking with Bloomberg News, entertainment industry analyst Hal Vogel remarked, "Brad Grey is signaling this is a new era for Paramount. ... Paramount looks quick, smart and aggressive. That's the signal they want to send to Wall Street and to Hollywood." On the other hand, Vogel said, "GE looks a little flat-footed here. ... I think it was GE's board not understanding the entertainment business." Today's (Monday) Wall Street Journal reported that Viacom co-president Tom Freston secretly took a private plane flight from New York to Los Angeles on Thursday to help wrap up the deal. In the end, the newspaper observed, "It was the GE Way vs. the Hollywood Way, and the Hollywood Way got the deal done."
2005-12-20 17:52:30