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Michael Fuchs has graduated from the class of rising media executives to keep an eye on, to one who could possibly run the class.

His commencement took place last week, when he acted quickly and decisively to quell growing dissension within the Warner Music Group, a unit of Time Warner Mr. Fuchs has headed for less than two months.

Mr. Fuchs dismissed Warner Music U.S. Chairman-CEO Douglas Morris, who Mr. Fuchs said was leading a campaign to destabilize the music company, Time Warner's most profitable division.

Mr. Morris also is said to have been one of Time Warner's staunchest supporters of gangsta rap, a genre Time Warner has come under fire for marketing.

Mr. Fuchs still has to wrestle with gangsta rap. If he takes Warner out of the genre, it could be seen as a negative by the creative community. If he does nothing, it could further fuel government, shareholder and public criticism.

But Mr. Morris' removal showed Mr. Fuchs isn't afraid of action, and that has won him big points with some important constituents. Already he is being viewed as behind only Time Warner CEO Gerald Levin and President Richard Parsons in terms of internal power.

"Michael Fuchs is a strong candidate to lead the company within 1995," said Porter Bibb, managing director-media specialist, Ladenburg, Thalmann & Co., New York.

Mr. Levin tapped Mr. Fuchs to head Warner Music in May after the dismissal of music group Chairman Robert Morgado. Messrs. Levin and Fuchs have a common heritage as chairman of Time Warner's Home Box Office unit, a post Mr. Fuchs still holds.

Mr. Levin helped launch HBO, but Mr. Fuchs expanded the service into live concerts, sports, specials and original movies.

"Michael Fuchs has made a very interesting transition from HBO to a much broader role in the music industry," said Michael Wolf, head of the media and entertainment practice of Booz Allen & Hamilton. ".... The real issue in the record business is marketing and distribution, which .... [he] has already demonstrated he is good at."

Mr. Fuchs also has demonstrated acumen with the creative community, forging ties with top film directors and stars for HBO projects. He has been mentioned as a possible candidate to head MCA.

He also has been involved in infighting at Time Warner, including a feud with Warner Bros. Co-Chairmen and Co-CEOs Robert Daly and Terry Semel, two other contenders to succeed Mr. Levin.


Michael Fuchs

BIRTH DATE: March 9, 1946, New York.

EDUCATION: B.A., Union College, 1967; law degree, New York University, 1971. CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Named chairman of Warner Music Group, May 1995, while remaining chairman of HBO, a post he has held since 1984; also CEO of HBO, 1984-May 1995; a variety of other HBO posts dating back to 1976; director-business affairs, William Morris Agency, 1975-76; associate with two New York law firms, 1971-76.

PERSONAL: Single, lives in New York.

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