Hope had recently been glimpsed when the Weinsteins rode back in alongside supermarket mogul Ron Burkle and entered into an exclusive negotiating window earlier this year. But it seems that fairytale ending-like development wasn’t meant to be, and the fate of Miramax was no closer to being resolved.
But, today, a light has started to shine on Miramax from a rather unexpected source.
TMZ have broken the news that 80s legend Rob Lowe has emerged as a candidate to rescue the long-ailing studio from oblivion- albeit backed by some seriously big-money business players. The deal would involve a tidy $700m changing hands between Lowe’s group and the famous Mouse House, and has no doubt been further sweetened for Disney by Tutor’s recruitment of Richard Nanula, who is well known to them thanks to his time served as a former Disney chief financal officer.
The news a few days ago had Lowe meeting in the swanktastic C Restaurant in London with business mogul Tom Barrack, president of Colony Capital, the “colourful” sometimes sports team owner Flavio Briatore and the restaurant’s owner Giuseppe Cipriani to discuss a multi-million dollar deal to start up a multi-platform media company in the mould of a Dreamworks. Further developments have ruled both Briatore and Cipriani out of the running for Miramax, with the three man management team being made-up by Lowe, Barrack and Ron Tutor, the construction mogul who has held exclusive negotiating rights for the studio since early June with partners Colony Capital, and had, according to Reuters, been reportedly scouring a list of over 100 recognisable names to fill two top management spots that they had identified.
So Lowe has been appointed as one of those top positions- but what of the other? You can reasonably presume that the Briatore/Cipriani dinner date was used to try and add a second recognisable name, but with that not coming to fruition, where will the final partner come from? I personally can’t help but think that the Tutor/Colony/Lowe group have dodged an almighty bullet in not appointing Briatore, as the man is a pompous, meddling buffoon who infamously brought the world of Formula One into disrepute by cheating and who handled his co-ownership of QPR football team like a malicious child with a magnifying glass and an ant-hill. While the Weinsteins reputedly ran Miramax with their famous iron fists- and to great success- seeking to replace or ape that with Briatore’s personal brand of entrepreneurialism would be an unmitigated disaster. And if you needed further proof, the picture to the right of Flavio enjoying himself on holiday is surely a strong enough case for the prosecution.
Just how did Rob Lowe find himself in such auspicious company? The other members of the consortium clearly bring business knowledge and money to the table: while Lowe presumably doesn’t have the same kind of experience to match, nor quite as deep pockets, he does have the face and the charisma that make him a dream of a choice for the group’s ceremonial figurehead (a bit like the queen but with a few more questionable lifestyle experiences in his past). Crucially, Lowe also has the acting experience that will obviously appeal to the others when entering into the multi-media platform, and he has the added indie credentials that would make him a little less of a left-field choice to keep the indie dream alive.
I’d love to know the plans the group have in place for the studio, and how they fit with that famous indie spirit that so many of Miramax’s most acclaimed films channelled. One thing is for certain; the Weinsteins will no doubt be interested onlookers to any deal that seeks to resurrect their parentally-named former studio creation and take advantage of the 600 or so films that make-up the back-catalogue, as they still hold the rights to a few choice films from the stock and probably aren’t above muddying the waters for any new owners if they don’t fully agree with the direction the studio’s new guise looks to be taking.
Presumably, the first thing on the agenda after any power exchange would be sorting out the small matter of the six projects that got caught in the cross-fire of Disney’s decision to sell Miramax and were shelved, including Sam Worthington’s The Debt, Jennifer Anniston’s The Switch (formerly The Baster) and Dame Helen Mirren’s The Tempest. But after that who knows. Could the actor who I loved so much in St Elmo’s Fire really be responsible for the next Clerks? Or the next sex, lies and videotape? Or even the next Pulp Fiction?
The real question that I’m sure is on everyone’s lips is, in light of the failed attempts to buy Miramax already, whether the team featuring the Austin Powers actor will really be taking over the once mighty Indie studio, or whether it will all turn out to be a load of Number 2. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.