In an interview published Friday with Mike Fleming Jr. of Yahoo! Movies, actor George Clooney took a swipe at hedge funds, saying that the multi-billion dollar investment groups often ruin businesses with their obsession with the bottom line. Then they get bailed out by the government and are never held accountable.
The interview mainly centered around Clooney’s beef with hedge fund manager and so-called “activist investor” Daniel Loeb. Loeb is aggressively buying stock at Sony, but after the less than stellar summer Sony Entertainment has had — major films “After Earth” and “White House Down” did poorly at the box office — Loeb has started agitating for Sony to spin off its entertainment division.
Clooney — whose own quirky production company, Smokehouse Pictures, is headquartered at Sony — thinks Loeb and other hedge fund manager types need to stop thinking they know how to run businesses better than the people who have been running them for years.
The film industry, Clooney said, “is run by people who understand that the movie business ebbs and flows and the good news is they are ignoring his calls to spin off the entertainment assets. How any hedge fund guy can call for responsibility is beyond me, because if you look at those guys, there is no conscience at work.”
He went on, “It is a business that is only about creating wealth, where when they fail, they get bailed out and where nobody gets fired. A guy from a hedge fund entity is the single least qualified person to be making these kinds of judgments, and he is dangerous to our industry.”
Clooney pointed out that Sony produced huge hits over the last calendar year, including “Zero Dark Thirty” and the billion-dollar grossing James Bond film “Skyfall.”
“To have this guy portraying it that Sony management is the bad stepchild and doesn’t know what it is doing and he’s going to fix it?” he said. “That is like Walmart saying, let me fix your town, putting in their store, strangling all the small shops and getting everyone who worked in them to work for minimum wage with no health insurance.”
“Hedge fund guys do not create jobs, and we do,” said the actor, director and producer. “On the movie we just made, we put 300 people to work every day. I’m talking about nice, regular people, and when we shot in a town, we’d put another 300 people to work. This is an industry that thrives; there are thousands of workers who make films. You want to see what happens if outside forces start to scare the industry and studios just make tent poles out of fear? You will see a lot of crap coming out.”
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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