One Hundred Films and a Funeral

By Michael Kuhn | Go to book overview

7
Chasing the lion:
PolyGram, MGM and Kirk Kerkorian

If there is one logo that symbolises Hollywood, it is MGM’s lion. The history of MGM is the history of Hollywood and its catalogues include some of the greatest movies ever made. From the mid-1980s however, its early glory became tarnished and it suffered many changes of management and ownership.

PolyGram had twice tried to buy into MGM and, after PolyGram was sold to Universal in 1998, some of our libraries were bought by MGM. This is the story of those encounters and of the enigmatic owner of MGM in recent years — Kirk Kerkorian.

The early history of MGM involved the coming together of the United Artists Corporation and MGM. United Artists was formed in 1919 by Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford and D.W. Griffith, while MGM-Lowe’s was formed in 1924 by combining Metro Pictures, Goldwyn Pictures and Louis B Mayer Productions. In 1929, this became Metro-Goldwyn Mayer. MGM/UA Entertainment Co. was formed in 1981, when MGM acquired all of the outstanding stock of United Artists Corporation. Ted Turner bought MGM/UA in March 1986, but almost immediately ran into financial difficulties and had to sell back United Artists to Kirk Kerkorian’s Tracinda Corporation, which quickly went public. In August of that year, it acquired a large part of the library and TV production from Turner and began licensing various operations and other assets including trade name logos, leaving TV rights with Ted Turner. In 1986 United Artists changed its name to MGM/UA Communications Company.

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One Hundred Films and a Funeral
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Dedication *
  • Contents *
  • Illustrations i
  • Preface ii
  • Acknowledgements iv
  • Part One - Polygram and Films — The INS and Outs 1
  • 1 - Early Flirtations 3
  • 2 - When a Film Is Not a Film- The Long Form Music Video Disguise 15
  • 3 - Commitment and Relationships 25
  • 4 - The Strategy Unfolds 33
  • 5 - Building a Studio 45
  • 6 - Four Weddings and a Funeral 57
  • 7 - Chasing the Lion- Polygram, Mgm and Kirk Kerkorian 69
  • 8 - Green Lighting and Marketing 79
  • 9 - The End 91
  • Part Two - Influences, Titans and Characters 97
  • 10 - Arthur Krim 99
  • 11 - Lew Grade 105
  • 12 - Of Colleagues 111
  • 13 - Talent 115
  • 14 - Politicians 121
  • Part Three - Some Other Bit-Parts Observed 125
  • 15 - The Control Sheet 127
  • 16 - Opening a Movie in America 131
  • 17 - African-American Films 135
  • 18 - Television and Catalogues 137
  • 19 - Management 139
  • 20 - The Sundance Channel 141
  • Postscript 143
  • Appendices 145
  • 1 - The Players 146
  • 2 - Polygram Filmed Entertainment Chronology 159
  • 3 - Timeline 163
  • 4 - Polygram Filmed Entertainment- Film List 173
  • 5 - Film Credits 180
  • 6 - Awards 212
  • 7 - Polygram Companies 233
  • 8 - Corporate Structure — Polygram Filmed Entertainment 235
  • 9 - Index 239
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