Be afraid. Be very afraid, Jon Feltheimer. Because I’ve just been told that Wall Street investor Carl Icahn who loves to destabilize management when a stock is underperforming has increased his stake from 4% to 9.17% stake (10.762 million shares) in Lionsgate Entertainment. In the SEC filing, Icahn said he took the position because he thinks the shares are undervalued. A Lionsgate rep says Icahn and the mini-major are haing a “constructive dialogue”. But this is the same guy who caused all that trouble for Time Warner and its chairman/CEO Dick Parsons not too long ago. (Remember when Icahn was pressing TW for board seats and then enlisted Bruce Wasserstein to try to take over the company and put Frank Biondi in as the new CEO?) And the same guy who made Jerry Yang’s life miserable at Yahoo. And on and on…
Icahn looks to be bottom-feeding. That’s why I was surprised when the suck-up trades celebrated when Feltheimer this month extended his contract to run Lionsgate through March 14th for a base salary that’s reportedly $1.2 million until 2011, at which point it rises in accordance with the consumer price index. The pact also provides that he’ll receive 458,036 shares of stock vesting over a 3-year period starting in 2012, giving him a 1.5% ownership stake. While Lionsgate shareholders keep getting hosed. The mini-major’s stock price has hit a 52-week low in this downturn that has impacted all media stocks. And here’s what really confounds me as well about Feltheimer: how someone who was such a brilliant TV mogul at Sony, and whose mini-major had the good taste to be in business with Matthew Weiner for Mad Men, could allow Lionsgate to keep making revolting horror flicks including many with torture porn? True, Lionsgate is moving away from the traditional “Hard R” gory fare that made the mini-major successful financially into more PG-13 product fare with its long-term association with Tyler Perry and its newly expanded studio production.
But I want Feltheimer to make a public pronouncement renouncing torture porn kinds of films before the upcoming Saw V is released. My own fervent wish has been for someone to strap him to a chair and force him to repeatedly watch the sicko Saw franchise. But now Icahn may represent punishment enough for Feltheimer.
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