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Universal Studios Chief Ousted

Seagram announced a restructuring Monday that drew the resignation of Universal Studios Chairman Frank Biondi.

Ron Meyer, the studio's
No. 2 executive, becomes Universal's senior executive and will report directly to Chief Executive Edgar Bronfman.

Under the move, Universal music will be split off from Universal Studios, and division chief Doug Morris will report to Bronfman.

The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed executives familiar with the situation, said Bronfman sought Biondi's ouster as Bronfman moved to take greater control of the company's expanding entertainment operations before the close of its $10.4 billion PolyGram (PLG) acquisition. Seagram shares rose 5/16 to 34 5/8.

In other media news:

  • CBS President Mel Karmazin told the trade magazine Variety he has been exploring ways to share the resources of CBS News, confirming months of speculation.

    In an interview published in Monday's edition, Karmazin was quoted as saying the network's newsgathering operations and the news department's library could be made "available to somebody else." The executive would not comment on specific combinations that had been reported, including deals with Time Warner's CNN or Bloomberg.

    Karmazin told the magazine he's interested in further expansion into cable programming, and that he told Viacom Chairman Sumner Redstone he was interested in buying the company. Redstone told Karmazin Viacom wasn't for sale. Karmazin didn't deny speculation that he's been in talks with Sony Entertainment and Barry Diller's USA Networks about possible partnerships.

    Karmazin said he has no intention of selling the CBS Television Network , because it's part of a multimedia platform the company wants to offer to advertisers. (CBS is a 50-percent owner of CBS.MarketWatch.com. )

  • Harvey Entertainment (HRVY), owner of the animated Casper, Baby Huey and Herman and Katnip franchises, reported a third-quarter loss and said it's still considering a sale of the company.

    Harvey lost $2 million, or 48 cents a share, compared to a profit of $2.5 million, or 62 cents, in the year-earlier period. Revenue from operations plunged to a deficit of $1.1 million from a positive figure of $7.1 million. Year-ago numbers reflect revenue from the shipment of the direct-to-video film Casper: A Spirited Beginning and a non-refundable advance from Seagram's Universal Pictures on a second direct-to-video title, Casper Meets Wendy. Harvey also said it's secured a $2.5 million loan from City National Bank to "to supplement its cash position in funding limited operations."

Written By David B. Wilkerson

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