It appears that the powers that be behind MGM have engaged in a bit of a hiring spree. First came the hiring of up & coming producer/executive Mary Parent (written about here) as head of worldwide production, and now they're reportedly hiring the exiting marketing chief of Time-Warner's new appendage New Line (written about here).
Now why is the partnership that owns MGM (Comcast, Sony/Columbia, and their equity partners) hiring all these highly paid and capable people to work at a studio that's been bordering on moribund for decades?
I suspect that what's happening at MGM is the only sensible response to media consolidation.
Now I'm not going to go on one of those rants about the "evil corporate monopolists" and how all news will somehow be controlled by a secret cabal run by Rupert Murdoch, Col. Sanders, and a small Argentinian gnome named Ignacio. This blog is about pop-culture, and pop-culture is what I'm going to talk about.
You see most studios these days are small pieces of humongous media conglomerates. These conglomerates love to acquire other media companies, be they movie producers, broadcast & cable channels, home video companies, as well as internet sites.
They especially love to swallow up small movie companies, eg- New Line, so they don't have to worry about upstart competition. They then decide that their media outlets (theatrical, broadcast, cable, home video, internet) will only carry material developed and produced in house.
And this is where the real trouble starts.
The mega-corporations then own more and more outlets for media, but produce less and less content to show in those outlets. If you doubt me, check your TV this weekend afternoon and count how many channels are showing the same movie.
You see there is only so much original material a single company can produce, no matter how big it is. A sense of corporate group-think comes into play, internal power struggles make the shop becomes more and more closed to new people and new ideas, and then the ability to produce original content suffers in both quantity and quality.
NBC/Universal is a classic example. The bulk of last season was of blatant remakes of old shows like The Bionic Woman, or subtle near-remakes like Journeyman (Quantum Leap anyone?) and tedious game shows. If they thought they could get away with it, they'd probably try another Law & Order spin-off called L&O: Dead Horse Assault Patrol.
This is why I suspect that the partnership behind MGM is thinking of doing what has become a radical idea: A movie company dedicated solely to producing movies and television shows.
There's a massive content gap in the media world, and somebody needs to fill it.
That's what I suggested to Time-Warner when it came to New Line. They should have spun it off as an independent company, with new partners and new management, with Time Warner owning a percentage and having first dibs on broadcast/cable and international distribution rights. But the point of the company would be to make movies and television and only movies and television.
But they didn't listen to me, and it's going to bite them on the butt in due time.
But it is nice to see some common sense appearing among the business side of Hollywood.
Damn, Robert Shaye better try for a comeback, because if I keep saying nice things about studio-execs, I'm going to lose my street-cred.