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Forget Eisner: Now It’s Chernin To Tribune? UPDATE: Odds Of It “Way Below 20%”

UPDATE 1:30 PM: I’ve now had time to do some reporting of my own to put perspective on the Wall Street Journal‘s — and this idea of Peter Chernin taking over Tribune Co is a real longshot. Insiders tell me that Chernin has had one meeting with one creditor who asked him about the CEO job. Chernin said no. Then he was asked about the chairman’s job. Chernin said unlikely. ”They asked him if he would keep an open mind. He said OK,” one of my sources says. “He’s had no meetings or discussions whatsoever with any other creditors, the creditors’ committee, with the board, with management, etc. And he is not part of any process now.” I’m told what’s happening is frankly no different than almost every media deal cooking right now where someone comes to Chernin and asks if he would be willing to run the company. My insiders put the odds of Chernin taking over Tribune Co ”way below 20%”. Meanwhile, the best guess is that the timing for change at Tribune Co is probably February-March at the earliest.

SATURDAY 5 AM: I’ve been traveling only to return to some interesting news reports: now Peter Chernin is on the short list to possibly replace Sam Zell as chairman of the Chicago-based Tribune Co when it emerges from bankruptcy soon. Hollywood always knew that the former News Corp No. 2 who’s now the  Fox TV and film mega-producer had a second act in … Read More »

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Tribune Preps Bankruptcy Escape Plan

Is Michael Eisner still interested in the top Tribune job? What will happen to all of the stations? Those are the pressing questions now that Tribune has supposedly found a way out of Chapter 11. The company and many of its creditors announced a settlement after many of the lenders were holding out. Tribune said it will meet the Friday deadline to file a reorganization plan. The publishing and broadcasting company has been in Chapter 11 since December 2008.

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UPDATE: Michael Eisner’s BFF Wants Him To Replace Sam Zell Atop LA Times’ Tribune

UPDATE: Here’s the reason why Michael Eisner is first choice among prospective candidates who could operate Tribune Co once it emerges from bankruptcy: John Angelo of NYC hedge fund Angelo Gordon & Co which is one of the Chicago-based media company’s biggest creditors. (See photo of Angelo, Eisner’s son, and Eisner.) Not only are Eisner and Angelo childhood pals who grew up together. “He was my sidekick from the age of 6,” Eisner said in his autobiography about Angelo, whose mother was in turn Eisner’s mother’s BFF. In the book’s acknowledgements, Eisner equates Angelo with his own sister because they ”have been an important part of my life longer than almost anyone else”. Even now, the two men remain best friends and Angelo’s son Jesse (an editor at the New York Post) is Eisner’s godson. Eisner even devotes a chapter to Angelo Gordon & Co in his forthcoming book, Working Together: Why Great Partnerships Succeed and describes Angelo as someone who “I know as well as perhaps anyone, aside from my own wife and children.”

On Angelo’s advice, Eisner, 68, has been accumulating Tribune Co debt. Tribune Co and its creditors are still struggling to negotiate a settlement. But just last week, the latest round of talks surrounding the disastrous Sam Zell management collapsed. On Friday, Tribune Co is supposed to submit a proposed settlement plan which the court could approve. It’s clear that senior creditors like Angelo Gordon & Co will end up owning Tribune Co because of their $8.6 billion in claims. Meanwhile, Angelo Gordon Co has accumulated several newspaper holdings post-bankruptcies in the last year. Because of the Angelo connection, Eisner was first approached about becoming a member of a reconfigured Tribune board by him. Reports say those conversations led to discussion of a potentially larger role for Eisner with Tribune Co, and today he is being touted for the top job. Read More »

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