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Icahn pushes to board

Zelnick, Bleier to join billionaire's Blockbuster crusade

WASHINGTON — Billionaire corporate raider Carl Icahn plans to fight his proxy war for Blockbuster from close range.

In a regulatory filing Friday, Icahn nominated himself and two longtime entertainment industry insiders for seats on the vidtailer’s board of directors.

Joining Icahn on the dissident slate are Strauss Zelnick, former CEO of BMG Entertainment, and Edward Bleier, the former head of marketing for Warner Bros. Entertainment.

Icahn launched his proxy fight last Thursday, after falling out with chairman/CEO John Antioco, over Blockbuster’s failed bid for Hollywood Entertainment.

The famed Wall Street raider had accumulated large stakes in both Blockbuster and Hollywood and publicly supported a merger between the nation’s two largest vidtailers.

Blockbuster’s current management dropped the effort last month, however, after meeting resistance from federal regulators.

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In a letter to Antioco, Icahn called the decision to drop out a “grave error” and threatened to take over the company and, presumably, dump Antioco.

As a first step, Icahn is gunning for the three open board seats up for election at the retailer’s May 11 annual meeting.

Even if his slate is elected, however, it would rep a minority of Blockbuster’s seven-person board.

In announcing his proxy fight, Icahn said he would seek a complete takeover of the board at the 2006 annual meeting if his demands for a new strategic direction for the company aren’t met.

In a letter sent Friday to Blockbuster’s corporate secretary, however, Icahn said he would nominate additional candidates for the upcoming meeting if, for any reason, incumbent directors did not stand for re-election or the company decided to elect more than three directors at the meeting.