Questions, media dog Grade dropout

LONDON — Michael Grade’s unexpected resignation Monday as chief exec of Channel 4 has sent the London gossip mill into an unprecedented frenzy of speculation about his next move. But 24 hours later no one seemed any the wiser, despite the best efforts of the media industry to find out.

A spokeswoman for VCI, the ambitious video company of which Grade is non-exec chairman, flatly denied that the flamboyant honcho was about to become the firm’s executive chairman and lead an aggressive expansion strategy.

She also said that VCI is not currently in discussions with Rank Group about making an offer for Rank Film Distributors, but did not rule out that possibility in the future.

Another source close to Grade ruled out the rumor that he might be heading for Rank.

The normally infallible Financial Times confidently predicted an announcement Tuesday that Grade would become chairman of a leading publicly quoted entertainment company, but no such announcement emerged.

Meanwhile, the rumor that Grade was being lined up as chief exec of English soccer’s Premier League found fewer and fewer supporters throughout the day, because it is widely known that Grade wants a chance to own a stake in any business he runs.

The speculation about Grade’s future somewhat overshadowed the equally important question about who will fill his vacant seat at Channel 4. Alan Yentob, the BBC’s disaffected director of programs, rapidly emerged as the favorite.

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