DAILY BRIEFS: Diller's Newly Created USA Films Swallows October, Gramercy, and Parts of PolyGram
by Eugene Hernandez/indieWIRE
In the Winter 1992 issue of FILMMAKER Magazine, Editor Scott Macaulay
interviewed October Films' founders Bingham Ray and Jeff Lipsky just after
the company secured a significant round of financing and moved into new
Rockefeller Center offices. Discussing the difference between the rapidly
growing October and Sony Pictures Classics, Ray said, "The biggest
difference between us and them is that Jeff and I struck out on our own
with our dime and at great risk. Everything that we personally owned went
into October Films. The people at Sony Classics, as much as I respect them
-- and I respect them a great deal -- they've always been part of a major
studio and it's not their dime. It's a little different when it's your
money. I think, for us, this is the way we have to operate."
Ray's comments from seven years ago are poignant given Barry Diller's
much-anticipated official announcement which hit FAX machines this
afternoon (Wednesday). As expected, Barry Diller's USA Networks confirmed
that it will purchase October Films and portions of PolyGram Filmed
Entertainment (PFE) from Seagram Company Ltd, the parent company of
Universal. A new unit of USA, dubbed USA Films, will house October Films,
Gramercy Pictures, and USA Home Entertainment (formerly PolyGram Video).
October co-President Scott Greenstein, who joined October from Miramax, has
been named Chairman of USA Films, and according to a USA Networks
statement, a special committee of the October Films Board has approved the
sale representing the company's minority shareholders. No announcement was
made about the fate or Ray and the third October co-President John Schmidt.
Additionally, there was no news on whether Gramercy head Russell Schwartz
would remain on board. Sources indicated in advance of the announcement
that Ray and Schmidt would leave and Schwartz would take a high level role
in the new operation.
"A lot of people become jaded and cynical in this business," Ray told
Macaulay in the 1992 FILMMAKER interview, "But its never been like that for
us and it never will."
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