MGM, Vivendi on track for mega merger?

Jul 16, 2002 9:18 AM

A DILLER OF A DEAL! Former Hollywood mogul Barry Diller, who has been the subject of a number of speculations since French-owned Vivendi Universal dumped its CEO last week, just might end up in the pinstripes of billionaire Kirk Kerkorian.

Word out of Hollywood is that MGM, now under the aegis of former MGM Grand COO Alex Yemenidjian, has been looking to merge with another studio in order to build on its current inventory of films and television shows. For MGM to accomplish its goal, Diller, who now runs USA Interactive, would head a buyout of the financially troubled Vivendi and would then link up with MGM.

That would place MGM in a position to develop a merger with a distribution outlet such as NBC or Comcast.

Industry watchers feel that the biggest hurdle to such an arrangement would be the future operation of the combined companies. Diller, former chairman of Paramount and Fox movie studios, would undoubtedly want to be in control. This, most likely, is something that Yemenidjian would probably be able to live with.

MORE HORSE POWER! The boys are on the buy.

The boys?

Make that read Terry Lanni, Bernie Scahiappa and Alan Creel. They are loaded for bear awaiting the opening of the summer season at Del Mar. Recent acquisitions include a two-year-old Bird On the Wire filly named Touch the Wire. Also, Confide In Kodi, No Excuses and Prince Benjamin.

I hear the trio is still in search of. With more than $400,000 already spent it’s apparent they share a love of the sport. With a touch of luck, happy days could be ahead.

PANDA PAIR! Las Vegas has come a long way over the years in its quest to lure gamblers to the desert gambling empire.

In the 1950s, players were plied with free scotch and soda at the tables, along with free cigarettes that were dispensed from clear-plastic boxes.

In the 1960s, the all-you-can-eat buffet made its debut as the new signature promotion. To this day, diners can feast themselves into oblivion for the price of a Happy Meal.

Later, promotions and come-ons became more sophisticated. Sprouting up were movie-set style attractions such as the erupting volcano, pirate battles, dolphin pool, white tigers and anything else that could conceivably pique a potential visitor’s interest.

The latest brainstorm to cross the drawing board of a Las Vegas casino is the prospect of building a habitat for two rare panda bears at Mandalay Bay. But, because there are only 1,000 or so pandas left in the wilds of China, some environmentalists and zoologists are outraged by efforts to bring any of the animals to Las Vegas.

But, why shouldn’t Las Vegas create a panda bear exhibit? They would probably blend well with the showgirls, blackjack tables, slot machines and free booze. Just about everything else that was brought here has!

WE LOVE YOU, TOMORROW! The University of California, Irvine has just published a study on suicide.

Guess what? Gambling has almost nothing to do with it.

The study concluded that despite Las Vegas’ standing at the top of the suicide rate list, gambling only accounted for 1% of the increase. The other 99% is related to various other factors such as race and age.

Now, tell me something I didn’t know.

Anyone who’s spent any time around gambling (I’ve certainly logged my share of hours), knows that gamblers live for tomorrow.

No matter how tough the day was and no matter how badly the odds beat you up, there’s always tomorrow. Tomorrow is when you have another chance. As long as there’s a tomorrow, there’s hope. As long as there’s hope, there’s life.

BURT UP TO OLD TRICKS! Everyone who saw Burt Reynolds last week said his one-man show was a quirky trip through the film star’s storied career. Our spies said that most of the audience was women, of course, who seemed to enjoy the two hours of story telling and joking.

And, after one of his shows, Burt was seen cavorting around the Palms casino with some of the Crazy Girls, who stage a topless revue at the Riviera. It appears age hasn’t slowed down Burt!