Muse Reporting on popular and fine arts

Will the ship go down with the captain?

Entertainment | The Weinstein Company’s fate is a bellwether for Hollywood
by Lynde Langdon
Posted 12/22/17, 02:27 pm

Interested buyers had to hand in bids for the Weinstein Company this week, meaning the movie studio co-founded by accused sexual predator Harvey Weinstein could announce a sale or bankruptcy filing soon, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday. The fate of the Weinstein Company could help predict whether other entertainment holdings, businesses, and even political parties will sink along with helmsmen accused of sexual abuse.

Two groups have publicly confirmed their interest in buying the Weinstein Company. Maria Contreras-Sweet, former head of the Small Business Administration, in November sent a letter to the board of directors offering $275 million, saying she wanted to institute an all-female board and retain Weinstein Company employees who stand to lose their jobs for no fault of their own.

“I believe we have now reached a crossroads where it is imperative that a woman-led board acquire control of the company and create content that continues to inspire audiences around the world, especially our young girls and boys,” Contreras-Sweet said in the letter.

The other interested buyer, Killer Content, wants to funnel profits to women’s charities, the LA Times reported.

But any potential sale faces obstacles not just from the company’s decimated image but also its mountain of debt. Variety estimated the studio owes $500 million. The recent sale of the distribution rights to Paddington 2 brought in $30 million, but that will barely put a dent in the company’s financial obligations.

The Weinstein board is also rumored to be considering Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which allows businesses to shed certain debts and reorganize with court approval. It’s hard to imagine the bankruptcy judge who would see enough promise in the company’s future to give it a second chance, but if Weinstein’s creditors are hungry enough, they could push the court to allow a buyout in which the new owner doesn’t have to repay everything. Buyers would be taking a public relations risk: Since Harvey Weinstein still owns a stake in the company, any sale has the potential to benefit him. And no one wants to be seen putting gifts in the stocking of the country’s most infamous serial abuser.

Writing Muse this year has taught me much about the entanglement of the arts and business. Many Westerners view art as a consumable good. As such, our culture’s standard for “good art” has come to mean “marketable art.” The most successful artists are not necessarily the most talented but rather the shrewdest business people. It makes me even more thankful for the Artist whose work is on display throughout creation as a free gift to us.

Associated Press/Photo by Amy Sussman/Invision Associated Press/Photo by Amy Sussman/Invision Tyler Perry

Walking by faith

Tyler Perry has released a new autobiography that focuses on the spiritual lessons he has learned in life. From living with an abusive father to his early missteps in show business, Perry ties each story to a Bible passage. He says he’s not a Christian filmmaker, but a filmmaker who believes in Christ. When asked how he has held on to his faith throughout life, he said: “Just my mother, just growing up with her. She just would always keep me focused. And even now I don’t know how to do this without praying. I don't know how to do [it] because I make mistakes, I get things wrong. I don’t know how to do this without surrender. I don’t know how to do this without taking a moment to go, ‘OK. … What am I doing here?’ Because walking by faith is uncomfortable at times. And I find myself breaking records and doing things and opening studios and things that are much bigger than I could have ever imagined in my life, and I wouldn’t know how to do that without prayer. You know, it’s scary.” —L.L.

Associated Press/Photo by Julio Cortez Associated Press/Photo by Julio Cortez Rupert Murdoch

A different spin

In an interview last weekend about sexual harassment at the Fox News Channel, chairman and acting CEO Rupert Murdoch called stories about a hostile work environment for women there “all nonsense” and said the problem was limited to former CEO Roger Ailes. (At least two other Fox News hosts, Bill O’Reilly and Eric Bolling, left the network amid harassment allegations.) Murdoch gave the interview to Britain’s Sky News, which Fox is currently attempting to buy. But U.K. regulators have weighed down the deal with scrutiny in part because of concerns about harassment at Fox News. Murdoch brushed off the accusations as a partisan attack. “That was largely political because we are conservative,” Murdoch said. “But the liberals are going down the drain. NBC is in deep trouble.” Just this week, two more women who claim to have reached sexual harassment settlements with O’Reilly in the past joined a defamation lawsuit against Fox and him. The settlements reportedly contained agreements by the parties not to disparage one another—agreements the women now say Fox has violated by downplaying abuse accusations at the network. —L.L.

God bless us, every one

The Muppet Christmas Carol is my favorite screen adaptation of the Dickensian tale, so I lapped up this story about the man who wrote the music for it (all while singing the songs in my head). It’s not surprising that lead writer Paul Williams came to the project right after finding new joy in sobriety and spirituality. The music, with its intelligent lyrics and snappy but not juvenile tunes, captures the relationship between a humble Earth and glorious heaven that is on display not only in A Christmas Carol but also the story of Jesus’ birth in a stable. Williams—who won a Grammy and an Oscar for writing the lyrics to Evergreen, the theme song to the 1976 movie A Star Is Born—is not a Christian, but he nevertheless tapped into the eternal hope of Christmas with his songs. This year marks the 25th anniversary of The Muppet Christmas Carol’s release, and it’s available in a special edition DVD and Blu-ray. —L.L.

Broadcast hero

Hall of Fame sports broadcaster Dick Enberg, known for his familiar refrain of “Oh my!” on big plays, was found dead in his home Thursday of an apparent heart attack. He was 82. Enberg started his 60-year career broadcasting UCLA basketball games and went on to call Super Bowls, World Series, Olympics, Wimbledon, Final Fours, and other major sporting events. At various times in his career he was the voice of the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams and major league baseball’s California Angels and San Diego Padres. He retired from his TV job with the Padres in October 2016. “Dick was an institution in the industry for 60 years and we were lucky enough to have his iconic voice behind the microphone for Padres games for nearly a decade,” Padres owners Ron Fowler and Peter Seidler said in a statement. —L.L.

Lynde Langdon

Lynde is a WORLD Digital assistant editor and reports on popular and fine arts. She lives in Wichita, Kan., with her husband and two daughters. Follow Lynde on Twitter @lmlangdon.

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  • Midwest preacher
    Posted: Mon, 12/25/2017 07:37 am

    Re:  Will the ship go down...

    Somehow we have got to quit rewarding those who produce no product, or a negative product, with huge amounts of money.  People need to be actively engaged in productive effort.  I know that sounds old fashioned but look at the problems we have because we reward those who don't produce.  Professional atheletes, singing stars, actors and actresses.  I would agree that it would be OK to pay people to entertain but Lebron James makes 40 million a year, Madonna's net worth is said to be 800 million.  This old man's old fashioned common sense says that's ridiculous. People who make that kind of money often get an inflated perception of the importance of their ideas (see aforementioned examples).  They sometimes get the feeling they can write their own laws and be their own god.

  • Brendan Bossard's picture
    Brendan Bossard
    Posted: Tue, 12/26/2017 11:34 pm

    They are gods who spoon-feed excitement to whover tithes.  Americans pay thousands of dollars in order to watch them.  Maybe the American Church needs some lean times in order to help us to reprioritize our tithing.

  • Midwest preacher
    Posted: Mon, 12/25/2017 07:46 am

    Re: God Bless Us...

    Sorry but I have to post on this one.  I would have guessed the songs from the Muppets Christmas Carol were written by someone who is spiritual but not a Christian.   Light hearted, happy, full of the residual joy of the season even if the joy of the Savior is not found there.  Cerainly Christmas and the joy of it are a gift that God has given to all mankind even to those who do not know the One Who is the Reason for this season of joy.