Back on July 7th and again on July 8th, I was first to report that the notorious film financier David Bergstein “was being pushed aside” and would have no role in Miramax once it was purchased from Disney by construction magnate Ron Tutor and Santa Monica-based Colony Capital. (I wrote: “As for the notorious film financier David Bergstein, I’ve learned his role is over as soon as the deal is finished. ‘He gets paid for packaging the deal and consulting on the transaction. Then that’s it,’ an insider tells me.”) On Sunday, Tutor confirmed my reporting in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. But I’m bewildered why the trade tried to claim he “unleashed a bombshell” that there will be no role in Miramax for his pal Bergstein. How utterly classless of The Hollywood Reporter — and Alex Ben Block, who knows better – not to give Deadline credit. Then again, THR and Variety, too, steal so much content from Deadline without credit on an almost daily basis, it’s clear the trades have no shame anymore.
I couldn’t agree more with a Disney insider who just told me, “We could all have a nice vacation in Tahiti if there was a dollar for every time this deal was reported as done.” So here’s what I know about how close this deal actually is between Disney and the Ron Tutor/Colony Capital/James Robinson partnership. It’s “95% just about done,” an insider tells me. “A couple of deal terms and timing issues remain. Like when does the deal actually close? When do all of the contingencies Disney needs to deliver get cleared? Right now there’s not really a Miramax because it’s been comingled with other Disney assets. So what has to happen is those assets have to go in and out so that the partnership can end up buying Miramax with clean assets and no liabilities. By tomorrow we could have a deal in principle. But it’ll be up to Disney to decide when to sign it and announce it.” Still, this is incredibly speedy considering that Colony Capital only a week ago entered the deal as a big equity provider matching construction magnate Ron Tutor’s equity of several hundred million dollars. Colony Capital will receive Miramax board seats as a result.
And here’s what I know about the price being paid. “The headline …
While film financier David Bergstein has been often maligned, he is much appreciated on a slow news day. Because he’s the story that keeps giving. Not long ago, Deadline told you that a bankruptcy judge appointed a trustee to seize temporary control of the assets steered by Bergstein, including the Capitol Films and ThinkFilm labels. This came as a result of creditors seeking protection from the possibility that Bergstein would unload the library. Now, Bergstein is the one seeking protection. His lawyers filed a protective order against trustee Ronald L. Durkin and his motion to require testimony and production of documents by Bergstein and associate Frymi Biedak. The probing trustee wants to see things like computer hard drives. The trustee is one that Bergstein chose, after rejecting two nominated by the creditors.
EXCLUSIVE: The following email was sent this month by the Screen Actors Guild to David Bergstein, the owner of Capitol Films, whose financial meltdown has been crushing indie after indie while he reportedly was lounging on a yacht during the Cannes Film Festival. It confirms all my recent reporting:
To: David Bergstein
Screen Actors Guild
Subject: Request for Meeting
Dear Mr. Bergstein:
We understand that Capitol Films and Capco Group are intending to start principal photography on a film entitled Labor Pains on June 2, 2008, utilizing the services of Screen Actors Guild-covered performers. Capitol recently encountered difficulties meeting its contractual obligations to the Screen Actors Guild in connection with projects entitled Nailed, and Love Ranch. Screen Actors Guild performers have also been adversely affected on a Canadian production connected to your companies entitled Bad Meat. Our New York office advised that preparations for your film entitled An Invisible Sign of My Own have ceased. This appears to be a repeated and snowballing problem. It would be in the interest of all parties to meet as soon as possible regarding the financial assurances that Screen Actors Guild will require from Capitol and its related companies on future productions. This includes, but is certainly not limited to, Labor Pains. We would like to discuss these issues with you directly, along with any representatives you may want to include in the meeting. Please advise when you are available to meet with us at our national offices in Los Angeles. I look forward to hearing from