Spyglass chiefs ready to lead MGM

Proposal pushed ahead to put Barber, Birnbaum in charge

A proposal to put Spyglass toppers’ Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum in charge of MGM pushed ahead Wednesday as their plan for restoring the Lion’s roar was presented to all of the studio’s debtors during a conference call.

Barber and Birnbaum have been holding discussions with MGM’s leading creditors, which include Anchorage Advisors and Highland Capital. Wednesday’s conference call looped in more than 100 creditors, who must endorse the plan.

Those knowledgeable with the talks say Birnbaum and Barber would take over after MGM goes through a pre-packaged bankruptcy. The creditors would absolve much of the studio’s $4 billion in debt and take a majority equity stake in the company, along with providing a certain amount of working capital.

A major component of the plan would likely include shuttering MGM’s distribution operation, which would reduce overhead substantially. Instead, Birnbaum and Barber would strike a theatrical distribution deal with another major.

A leading candidate is Paramount, with whom the duo have formed a close relationship, partnering on the rebooted “Star Trek” franchise, “G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra” and “Dinner for Schmucks,” according to insiders.(Daily Variety, Aug. 13).

MGM also would move aggressively into television.

Par — which has been making fewer movies — could accommodate the release of MGM titles, while other studios might have a tougher time.

MGM’s most lucrative film property is the James Bond franchise. It’s also a partner with Warner Bros. on “The Hobbit” films, which remain in limbo. Warners has domestic distribution.

Management and lenders are expected to attempt to get the Spyglass deal done by the Sept. 15 forbearance expiration.

Lenders have agreed six times to forgive debt payments since last September.

The studio was put up for sale in November.

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