AD AGES

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CABLE GUY ON SEAGRAM, DISNEY

What about Hollywood whisperings that Barry Diller is in cahoots with DreamWorks to take over Universal Pictures? Diller already controls most of Universal's TV biz, but confidant John Malone doubts Diller is eyeing a movie deal. "I'd be very surprised if Barry did much in the movie area in the near term," Malone tells Adages. The financial guru & TCI cable guy says now that Seagram has decided to spin out Tropicana in a public offering, it should separate the booze and Hollywood units to raise Seagram's worth on Wall Street. "Then, if Universal underperforms, there will be a lot of shareholder pressure to give it to Barry to run, or Spielberg," Malone surmises. On another score, Malone, uh, wonders if Disney will be sued over its new NFL deal. "I'm a little concerned if [Disney] maintained Monday night [on ABC] by transferring cost to Sunday night [games on ESPN]." Malone says he's heard some cable operators -- not TCI -- may sue if Disney tries to shift some of its $550 million Monday night package to Sunday, where ESPN is paying $600 million. ESPN is hiking the price it charges cable operators to cover its NFL deal. An ESPN spokesman says there will be no transfer of costs.

Annual report has something to say

Open Saatchi & Saatchi's new annual report, and you'll hear the voice of CEO Kevin Roberts talk shop. "Welcome to the first annual report from Saatchi & Saatchi, the ideas company," Roberts intones in his New Zealand accent. "We're driven by the conviction that there is always a better way to do anything. We want to be the hottest ideas shop in the world." The talking report offers two sorts of pictures: Kevin & Co. in black T-shirts or turtlenecks that look like Gap ads; and stuffier Saatchi execs in suits reminiscent of a Hugo Boss ad. At least Saatchi is the most fashionable shop in the world.

Hal's cache, Goodby's pacts

Hal Riney sold to Publicis for $41 million, a payout that could jump to $55 million if the agency performs according to plan. Elsewhere in SF: Hal's pals at Goodby Silverstein sold out years ago to Omnicom. End of story? Not exactly. The contracts of Jeff Goodby, Rich Silverstein and partners Colin Probert, Jon Steel and Harold Sogard all are up in 1999. One to watch: Could gen'l mgr. and planning guru Jon steal away to open his own shop?

Well-Groomed . . . Dummies

If you've got Bride's, what's the logical extension? Now that you've popped the question, the answer is Groom's. Conde Nast launches its guy guide to the wedding party as a special edition polybagged with the Oct./Nov. issue of Bride's. . . . TheStreet.com, flush with $10 million in venture capital, hired a headhunter to fill the finance site's CEO slot. . . . Following the IPOs of CMP and Ziff-Davis, IDG filed to sell stock in $121 million (sales) IDG Books, home of the "For Dummies" books. Is IDG giving up control? Hardly. The parent's special "Class B" stock will give it voting control of the newly public company.

Compiled by Bradley Johnson with news from Alice Z. Cuneo, Ann Marie Kerwin, Chuck Ross, Beth Snyder and Laurel Wentz.

Got an Adage? Tell Brad by phone, (213) 651-3710, ext. 111; fax, (213) 655-8157; or e-mail, brad@crain.com.

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