Let’s Pretend That We Have Media Diversity in Our Country

by Norman Horowitz

“People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public…” — Adam Smith, 1776

Walt Disney, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal Pictures, and Warner Brothers are all members of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). As an executive of Columbia Pictures and MGM/UA, I attended meetings of the MPAA.

In my opinion, the MPAA solely serves the interests of their major members. It is an association of gigantic companies who abuse the system as much as possible in order to maintain their market share and profitability without seriously violating the law — and, when possible, attempt to change the laws to their benefit. Were you to attend one of their meetings and mention something like their responsibility of serving in the “public interest, convenience, and necessity,” they would need to send out to have the phrase explained to them.   Continue reading “Let’s Pretend That We Have Media Diversity in Our Country”

Do You Think That I’m a Crook?

by Norman Horowitz

About forty years ago, I returned to Screen Gems International Television (Columbia Pictures) following a three year hiatus at CBS and a nascent Viacom.

Since I had worked at Screen Gems before, I was well prepared to go to London and make a deal for a group of features because the company needed a few paltry millions in order to “make its quarter.”

I ended up making a five or six million dollar deal with the commercial broadcasters in the UK. In order to do this, I negotiated a price for each and every movie in the “package.”

I returned home and submitted the deal to the accounting department, as was the case with all deals that included the negotiated price for each title.

A few days later, one of the senior accounting executives arrived in my office and handed me a sheet of paper indicating the value of each picture in the UK deal and told me to resubmit his per-picture price. He told me that his prices would reduce our obligations to our producers by about $450,000.

I refused to do what he asked. He threatened to go to our president, who would order me to do what he asked.   Continue reading “Do You Think That I’m a Crook?”