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Variety (2002) - Obituaries: Hollywood's Last Titan




In a move to further strengthen MCA and protect it against the inevitable desertion by talent, [Lew Wasserman] endeavored to acquire fixed assets for the company: MCA decided to become a producer and set up Revue Prods. In 1952 Wasserman obtained a blanket waiver from the Screen Actors Guild, freeing MCA from the union's prohibition against agents acting simultaneously as producers.


Although there are those today who can rightly be called showbiz moguls - giants who dominate the industry and wield great global media power - they came along too late to match the raw pioneering courage, intuition and vision of the empire builders who raised the Hollywood studios from scratch or near-- scratch and came to rule the world of film and TV. Lew Wasserman was the last of that breed.

Wasserman, who took Universal from being an also-ran studio into a mega-conglom and keeping it in global glory for decades, died at his BevHills home June 2 of complications from a stroke. He was 89.

He was the last of an era, but in many ways the first of several new ones as well. He invented innovative financial incentives, led studios into modern corporate thinking and was a unique industry presence who brought about changes in virtually every aspect of show business. First he transformed the agency biz, and his influence on film and TV production covered everything from backend deals to packaging to syndication.

When he took over as chairman of MCA Inc. in 1973, it was valued at $160 million. By 1985, Forbes mag estimated its net worth at $3.6 billion, with the now-multifaceted corporation encompassing film, TV and music production, theme parks and theatrical exhibition.

But beyond that, Wasserman became the leader of the other Hollywood chieftains, spearheading labor negotiations, legislative lobbying and, just as important to him, philanthropy.

He used his close rel...

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