EMOTIONS RUN HIGH AT FAREWELL

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.-It was billed as a special meeting of Blockbuster Entertainment Corp., but the event turned into a farewell party for Wayne Huizenga.

At times fighting back tears, the outgoing chairman-CEO told attendees-mostly retiree investors and company officials-that selling Blockbuster to Viacom for $7.6 billion was a good thing. The shareholders agreed, voting 70% in favor of the sale.

As he prepared to take 1,000 friends on a journey back to the company's beginnings in 1987, Mr. Huizenga, choking on emotion, caught himself, and softly spoke, "This is going to be hard." He then recalled flying back from a Sunday meeting in 1987 after his $18 million acquisition of Blockbuster was sealed, toasting the new company with his father, son, partners and longtime executives and confidants.

There was a 6-minute video album of in-store shots and footage from past shareholder meetings, office parties and other executive events. Among those in the video were Mr. Huizenga; his wife, Marti; and Tom Gruber, the company's first chief marketing officer, who was on hand for the meeting.

But some shareholders were looking forward. Breaking from hors d'oeuvres and champagne, Carl Wuest, a retiree from Lighthouse Point, Fla., said he will follow Mr. Huizenga when the entrepreneur moves to his next venture. Mr. Wuest had 400 Blockbuster shares and owns stock in WMX Technologies from the days Mr. Huizenga built the company as Waste Management.

If some future Huizenga effort included an initial public offering, Mr. Wuest promised, "I'll go right along with him."

There was a sense of finality to it all.

Don Smiley, president of the Florida Marlins and a Huizenga confidant from the very beginning, said: "It's a fitting end."

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