Spyglass Entertainment Co-chairmen Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum are reportedly close to a closing a complicated deal under which they would end up running MGM, the Wall Street Journal reported today (Wednesday), citing people familiar with the situation. The deal would involve converting MGM's debilitating debt into equity and Barber and Birnbaum receiving an ownership stake of around 4-5 percent. They, in turn, would contribute Spyglass's library, which includes such films as The Sixth Sense and Seabiscuit to the MGM library. But it was not clear where funds to continue running the studio -- let alone financing new movies -- would come from, the Journal indicated. Two big productions, the next James Bond movie and The Lord Of The Rings prequel(s) The Hobbit remain in limbo as MGM attempts to find a solution to its current financial woes. Meanwhile, Daily Variety reported today that Lionsgate is also continuing to negotiate with MGM and that Lionsgate has "a useful cheerleader" in the person of Harry Sloan, the non-executive chairman of MGM, who served as a Lionsgate director from 2001-2005 and is a longtime friend of Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer. Sloan's proposed MGM package would resolve another issue Lionsgate has had to deal with -- its battle with activist investor Carl Icahn. His plan would give Icahn one or more seats on the board created by the merger of the two studios, Variety said.

11/08/2010