Sun Valley: Schmoozing and Socializing at Top of the Agenda

Execs at the Allen & Co. conference seemed more interested in schmoozing than dealmaking on Wednesday, even though one major pact had completed by day two of the annual mogulfest.

Legendary announced it would leave Warner Bros. for a new partnership with Universal on Wednesday morning. The pact came after months of courtship between Legendary and studios including Sony, 20th Century Fox and Uni. By Wednesday evening, Legendary’s Thomas Tull warmly greeted Jeffrey Katzenberg, whose DreamWorks Animation has a deal at Fox, and Time Warner’s Jeff Bewkes had already wished Tull well. Sony’s Michael Lynton commented that he would have loved to have Tull at his studio but said he was happy for both of the new partners. And Comcast’s Brian Robert’s called the deal a “win-win” for both sides.

But Legendary wasn’t the only buzzed-about deal at the Sun Valley Lodge, which hosts the conference. News Corp., Disney and Comcast seemed to be down a bidder for Hulu, as Guggenheim had dropped out of the running by Wednesday morning. Peter Chernin and DirectTV are among the suitors competing in a second round of bidding, but that doesn’t mean they know when a final buyer will be chosen.

“You should ask them and then tell me,” Chernin quipped Tuesday night.

The sale timeline was probably on the minds of Disney’s Bob Iger and News Corp.’s Chase Carey. On his way to dinner, Iger quietly asked Carey if he wanted to “talk for a minute,” but he could just as easily have been eager to discuss the evening’s menu.

Execs including Katzenberg, Uni’s Ron Meyer, Vanity Fair’s Graydon Carter, Resolution’s Jeff Berg, CBS’ Leslie Moonves and Tull all made their way to the outdoor patio for dinner around 6:30. Liberty Media’s John Malone, one of the week’s most anticipated guests, finally emerged in the crowd of hungry execs making their way outside. Malone’s interest in Time Warner Cable has been a hot topic of discussion, and there were rumblings of meetings between him and cable execs at this week’s conference.

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