Yes, the Wall Street Journal says this morning that talks between Harvey Weinstein-Ron Burkle and Disney over the sale of Miramax are off.
However: sources say this has happened before, that the Journal story is spin, and that it’s not over ’til it’s over.
Indeed, this story is a spin fiesta, as it was only last Saturday that the LA Times got spun about the deal being over. They retracted that story, and the New York Times then dropped it.
Here’s what I can figure out from the people who will talk, since the principals are unusually silent on this subject. Weinstein and Burkle are fine, they’re on the same page, and there’s no trouble on that side. Burkle has a long relationship with Fortress Investments stemming from their mutual interests some five years ago in Michael Jackson‘s loans against his Sony music publishing interests.
The schism last weekend came from some grayness over how the existing Weinstein Company and the new Miramax would function vis a vis the time devoted by Harvey and Bob Weinstein. TWC, as sources pointed out, has investors. That company was not going to disappear with the return of Miramax. Somehow there would have to be adequate assurance on all sides that TWC would not be forgotten. But of course, a united TWC and Miramax would be a powerhouse.
So what’s going on now? According to the people I’ve spoken to, the offer from the Gores brothers, even with the ailing Overture Pictures involved, isn’t going to cut it. Disney, they say, has done this before, calling off the deal, walking away, thinking they would get more money.
“I think they’re either going to make the deal with Harvey and Ron or not sell it,” says a source. “But why would they keep it? It has nothing to do with their core business.”
Indeed, Disney has no interest in Miramax or its catalog. The sensible solution is to sell it to the Weinsteins, et al and be done with it.One interesting observation on the part of my source here: “If Disney were using outside advisors or an investment bank this would be over. But it’s all done in-house.”
What is interesting, and maybe a little perplexing, is that Harvey Weinstein–who loves to be in the press–isn’t talking at all. Burkle is an enigma anyway. The leaks, they say, could be coming from the Gores-es, a pair of brothers who have had serious issues in the past (one thought the other was cheating with his wife and used Anthony Pellicano to find out). Or they could be coming from spoiler David Bergstein and his investor, Ron Tutor, who are on the outside looking in on this deal.
As it’s been pointed out, Disney went through this mishegos with Pixar for years before striking a deal with them. They’re a very animated group when it comes to money.