The Lion loves exex

MGM shareholders OK board, bonuses

The present board of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. was reaffirmed and the ratification of a stock option plan for newly appointed officers Alex Yemenidjian and Christopher McGurk was approved at the annual stockholders meeting Tuesday.

Yemenidjian and McGurk, installed 10 weeks ago as chairman-CEO and vice chair-chief operating officer, respectively, ran a tight 90-minute session that was characterized by one participant as “proud of our past, pray for the future.” It featured a brisk recap of recent losses, write-downs and new strategic alliances with Fox, Miramax and Universal.

Company announced that a $750 million equity offering would go out in the fall. MGM majority owner Kirk Kerkorian has agreed to acquire any stock not sold in the new public offering.

The long-ailing Lion recently wrote down $140 million for much of its upcoming release sked.

The company confirmed the previously announced eight-picture development slate with Miramax to include the film adaptation of the bestseller “Cold Mountain” and a new screen version of “Harvey,” as well as co-productions of the thriller “Dragonfly,” from filmmaker Tom Shadyac with Universal, and the current bestseller “Hannibal.” The exact nature of the split-rights endeavors will be determined per project.

MGM will take over control of homevideo rights to its library next year, and its product will be distributed internationally by Fox once its UIP contract expires in November 2000. It’s also exploring cable/satellite opportunities for its 5,000-plus titles.

“We will not mortgage our assets,” said Yemenidjian.

Both execs stressed the value of the films produced and acquired by MGM, and their ability to generate revenue through existing and emerging outlets and technologies.

McGurk also suggested that the company may break with existing Hollywood business practices through “innovative formulas” for talent profit participation and a “new entrepreneurial approach” in the way it markets and promotes its movies.

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