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The Lion sleeps tonight

MGM changing as Taylor ankles prexy post

HOLLYWOOD Last week’s announcement that MGM senior exec VP and chief financial officer Daniel Taylor will move up to prexy looks like the final nail in the Lion’s coffin.

The development essentially spells the demise — at least as a creative entity — of one of Hollywood’s best-known and most-loved icons.

Taylor, who’s barely been on the Hollywood radar screen since he got the CFO post in 1997, was a dark horse candidate for the prexy gig, at best.

But his job won’t really change; it’s MGM that will be different.

The new MGM won’t need any creative execs at the top, because it won’t be making any creative decisions. Soon-to-be corporate parent Sony will be handling all that.

So current MGM chairman and CEO Alex Yemenidjian and vice chairman and chief operating officer Chris McGurk will likely ankle, and the consortium that’s acquiring MGM tapped Taylor, 47, to report to them on money matters.

He’ll lead a much smaller MGM, with only about 250 employees, meaning around 1,000 current Lion staffers will lose their jobs.

Since the new MGM will be a label only, mainly responsible for managing library content and contracts, there was no need to hire a better-known creative.

Taylor, after all, already knew the company.

The announcement further clouds the future of the four pics recently announced as the Lion’s final slate as an independent studio.

Only the next James Bond pic seems likely to eventually be made under the MGM banner, but when, and by whom exactly, is up in the air.

Taylor joined the Lion some 13 years ago, but left to spend six years working for Kirk Kerkorian‘s Tracinda, which operates the MGM Grand hotel and casino in Vegas. He returned to MGM in 1997, replacing CFO Michael Corrigan in 1998 — and has rarely been heard from in public since.

With a bean-counter at the top and all creative decisions outsourced, what exactly is the MGM label going to be? And what about United Artists, which threatens to disappear altogether?

At best, they will jostle with Sony’s own units including Sony Pictures, TriStar, Screen Gems and Sony Classics.

We’ll take “Taylor Probably Doesn’t Know, Either” for a thousand, Kirk.

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