Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes: Updates on Morris, Sony and UMG
Here’s the latest scuttlebutt in the Doug Morris/Sony/UMG tug of war. Informed sources are telling me that Morris doppelganger Mel Lewinter is now hesitating about going with Morris over to Sony, seriously contemplating retirement instead. That may be moot because those same wags are saying that Sony has told Morris that they do not want him to bring all of his “henchmen” over with him. Not good news for Sylvia Rhone, whose European shopping sprees are legendary. It really doesn’t matter because Morris is about as much of a hands off guy as you could find for a CEO.
Evidently it’s just the opposite from his successor at Universal. Lucien Grainge is said to be very hands on, something that executives at UMG are not used to. This is leading to rumblings of some friction between Grainge and long time COO, “Mr. Personality”, Zach Horowitz. Could this lead to a crack in the door for Zach, aka Loyalist No. 2., to follow Doug to Sony? Maybe Sony would throw Doug a bone? Who knows?
Zach started out in business affairs at Columbia Records West Coast where he was a piss ant little lawyer and the pet of Myron Roth, then head of business affairs. Myron leaped to MCA Records as executive vice president back in the early 80’s when Irving Azoff took over the then floundering major label and brought Zach with him as legal counsel.
While at MCA, both men were involved in a federal investigation of the infamous Sal Pisello/Mafia/break dance mat scandal that was first uneartherd by LA Times investigative journalist William Knoedelseder, who wrote a book about the investigation, Stiffed: A True Story of MCA, the Music Business, and the Mafia. (Investigative journalist Dan Moldea wrote a terrific synopsis of the case for Regardie’s Magazine in 1988 titled MCA Music & the Mafia: Did the Justice Department cut Reagan’s Hollywood pals a break?)
Most importantly for Universal, however, is the apparent change in culture that is said to be sweeping the company. Both Lucien and new hire Barry Weiss are not only very hands on, but are said to exercise very tight budget control, something that UMG execs have never had to cope with.
Heads up to UMG execs: you just might have to start answering your own phone calls.