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Businessweek Archives

Barry Diller: Return Of The Mogul

In Business This Week: Headliner

Barry Diller: Return of the Mogul

It was only a matter of time. Barry Diller, once chief of Paramount Pictures, wants to be in pictures--again. Three years after taking over the stumbling Home Shopping Network, the man credited with inventing movies of the week is looking for a bargain-basement way back into making films.

The maneuver is part of Diller's strategy to convert USA Networks into a media powerhouse. Within weeks, he is expected to buy from Universal Pictures the remnants of Polygram Filmed Entertainment, a maker of independent films such as the current release Elizabeth. On Jan. 11, his bit for October Films was rebuffed.

A Polygram deal would again put Diller across the table from Seagram Co. chairman Edgar Bronfman Jr. Intimates say Bronfman wants Diller to take Polygram off his hands for $400 million. In return, Bronfman, whose com- pany owns 45% of USA, may drop its objections to Diller's plans for buying a television network, perhaps NBC.

Besides Polygram, associates say Diller is looking at the Bravo and Independent Film channels. They are perfect Diller acquisitions: cheap, with nowhere to go but up.EDITED BY KELLEY HOLLANDReturn to top

The SEC Is Livid over Livent

BROADWAY IMPRESARIO GARTH DRABINSKY's celebrated creativity went too far, according to the Securities & Exchange Commission. On Jan. 13, the watchdog agency accused the Livent founder and eight former colleagues of fashioning a "multifaceted and pervasive accounting fraud" over eight years, ending only when new management took over Livent last year and ousted Drabinsky. The agency alleges that the ex-CEO and his accounting staff inflated earnings, revenues, and assets. The U.S. Attorney for New York also weighed in with 16 charges of conspiracy and felony violations of securities laws. The SEC is seeking to make Drabinsky an example of the SEC's intolerance of accounting fraud. Officials warn that Livent won't be alone for long. "Look for more to come," says SEC Enforcement Chief Richard Walker. Drabinsky calls the charges baseless.EDITED BY KELLEY HOLLANDReturn to top

Minorities Get a Wall Street Boost

REVEREND JESSE JACKSON'S WALL STREET PROJECT is revving up. On Jan. 14-15, President Clinton and Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin were to join business luminaries at the project's second annual conference in New York. Clinton will propose measures, including investment tax credits, to boost investment in inner cities and depressed rural areas. Says Jackson: "Minority communities suffer a trade deficit with many companies in terms of how much of their products we consume and ... supply."EDITED BY KELLEY HOLLANDReturn to top

Zippier Web Links from AOL

TIRED OF WAITING FOR THE NEXT SCREENFUL OF DATA TO COME OVER THE PHONE LINE? America Online is, too. On Jan. 13, the world's largest online service announced a deal with Bell Atlantic to provide fast AOL connections for less than $20 extra per month. Bell Atlantic aims to make the service available to 7.5 million households by yearend and 14 million by 2000. AOL is expected to announce similar deals with U S West, Pacific Bell, and BellSouth. With its 15 million members, AOL can help jump-start the Bells in their race against the cable companies to provide fast Web links.EDITED BY KELLEY HOLLANDReturn to top

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