Each day brings more news of a troubled company needing debt restructuring or a management overhaul. The Weinstein Co. and MGM are just the latest examples. All the studios face pressure from their corporate parents in a grim recession amid declining ad and DVD revenues. Sales are down across the board, including classic rereleases, and less precipitously, specialty titles.
Each of the six media behemoths is rocked to some degree by horrid ad sales, which account for 30 to 70 % of their income. News Corp and Time Warner are coping with reeling publishing empires. NBC/Universal parent GE is dragging its troubled financing division. Disney's Robert Iger frets about ABC and theme park attendance. Sony's hardware divisions are getting slammed. All are trying to stem their losses by cutting management, production and release costs and reducing talent outlays.
On the agency side, as a sign of the new order, WME is feeling the pinch to such a degree that they've decided to pay their support staff $9.50 an hour. That's little more than minimum wage.
When this many deck chairs are about to be rearranged, folks in Hollywood start speculating. Already, with Disney's production head Oren Aviv and Universal co-chairmen Marc Shmuger and David Linde still in place, talk is swirling about who could replace them. The question is: who are the experienced players with heat right now? Names in play are Fox 2000's Elizabeth Gabler, Screen Gems' Clint Culpepper and producer Marc Platt ( Wanted ). Meanwhile, Mary Parent is responsibly fulfilling her mandate at MGM (presumably collecting several millions before the place is buried in a mountain of debt). But could Ron Meyer pull back her ex-partner Scott Stuber to run Universal?
Here's a Hollywood health report:
Experiencing Upper Management Distress:
Under Performance Pressure
Sony/Screen Gems/Sony Pictures Classics
Stable and Steady:
Twentieth Century Fox/Fox 2000/Fox Searchlight
On the Rise: