Fired exec sues Vivendi Deutschland

Future of Studio Babelsberg in doubt

BERLIN — Gabriela Bacher, former managing director of Studio Babelsberg Motion Pictures, has filed a lawsuit against the studio’s parent company Vivendi Deutschland for what she says was an “unjustified dismissal without notice.”

Vivendi Deutschland CEO Thierry Potok fired Bacher last week on the grounds that mutual trust for further cooperation between Vivendi Deutschland and Bacher had been “destroyed.”

In a statement issued by her lawyers, Bacher said she still doesn’t know in what way that trust was damaged.

The lawsuit, filed in a Potsdam court Monday, coincided with Studio Babelsberg’s 90th anniversary celebration on the first day of its annual Babelsberg 2002 confab.

Although Potok said Monday that Vivendi Universal remained committed to Babelsberg, Bacher’s sacking has rekindled speculation that the money-losing studio will be sold off by the troubled media giant as it begins to rid itself of non-core assets.

Plans for overhaul

Vivendi inked a 10-year contract in 1992 to buy and renovate Studio Babelsberg as part of a far-reaching deal that included the purchase of former East German waterworks. That contract expires in December.

Some Babelsberg insiders, who say Vivendi’s tight reins have kept the studio from realizing its full potential, would welcome a sale of the studio.

Bacher’s dismissal dominated conversations at a gala dinner celebrating the studio’s anniversary. In an opening speech at the somewhat downbeat festivities, former Bertelsmann exec and current Berlin-Brandenburg media advisor Bernd Schiphorst demanded clarity from Potok and Vivendi Universal regarding the future of the studio.

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