Lion back in the hunt

Sloan plans to beef up MGM's executive ranks

Could the Lion roar again?

Six months after Sony and partners snapped up MGM, it’s got a savvy new chief who wants to make movies (MGM-owned) and take the studio to another level.

The appointment of entrepreneur Harry Sloan as MGM chairman Oct. 24 added an air of mystery to MGM’s relationship with Sony — and Sony’s rapport with its partners in the $4.8 billion deal. Sony, after all, only owns a 20% minority stake in MGM.

Sloan, who recently made a bundle selling SBS Broadcasting, which he founded and ran for 15 years, is close to Providence Equity, one of MGM’s five investors: the one with the biggest stake (29%).

Providence CEO Jonathan Nelson had been serving as MGM’s interim chairman.

Sony has never called the Lion a library play, tucked safely into SPE, releasing a couple of franchise pics a year.

But that kind of felt like the idea.

Now Sloan, who will become a partner himself by buying a “significant” unspecified stake in MGM, says producing movies “is going to become increasingly important to us” and that he plans to beef up MGM’s executive ranks across the board.

His ultimate aspirations for the Lion may be even grander.

Sony sits on the MGM board, interviewed Sloan, and voted to put him in.

That said, “I can’t see where this is, in any way, shape or form, is in line with what Sony desires,” observes one Hollywood insider.

Add to the mix the fact that Sony’s distribution pact with MGM only runs a year. That means the partners could move it to another studio in April. They probably won’t, since it would be costly and complicated, but they could.

Grrrrr?

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