Power 101: Michael Jackson, Madonna and other powerful individuals in flux
The power of these producers, performers and powerful executives hangs in the balance
* FRANK BIONDI and STANLEY JAFFEE Biondi is No. 2 at Viacom; Jaffe is No. 2 at Paramount. Neither of them knows what number he’ll draw if the proposed Viacom-Paramount merger becomes a done deal.
* JAMES CAMERON His half-billion-dollar, 12-picture deal with 20th Century Fox shrank when the Terminator director had to rework his plans for financing, and lawsuits derailed his hopes to direct the multiple-personality drama The Crowded Room. But Schwarzenegger’s True Lies (now filming) and Spider-Man (in development) could set him right.
* MARK CANTON The Columbia chairman took a body blow with the $80 million Last Action Hero, and Heidi Fleiss’ alleged Columbia connections didn’t help. Clint came through with In the Line of Fire, but Canton’s next big-budget gambles—Wolf, Geronimo, and the maybe-musical I’ll Do Anything—will decide his fate.
* WAYNE HUIZENGA No longer content just renting videos at his Blockbuster chain stores, Huizenga will soon be creating his own product. He has snapped up controlling interests in Spelling Entertainment and Republic Pictures Corp.—but his filmmaking prowess is a big unknown.
* MICHAEL JACKSON The Oprah interview was a stroke of genius (and one of the season’s most watched prime-time programs), but that child-molestation accusation hasn’t exactly been a career booster. Our advice: Schedule a follow-up visit with Winfrey immediately.
* WARREN LITTLEFIELD His brief reign at NBC (he succeeded Brandon Tartikoff in 1990) seemed to end in February, when Don Ohlmeyer was named head of the network’s West Coast entertainment activities. Sure, Littlefield’s still president, but who’s the boss?
* MADONNA Sales of her album Erotica were less than exciting; Body of Evidence set back sex 50 years; and critics are snickering over her Girlie Show tour. But never underestimate Dita’s comeback potential. Her racy movie Snake Eyes, due soon, could do the trick.
* SONNY MEHTA The Knopf chief’s big fall book—Oprah Winfrey’s autobiography—vanished when the chat queen got cold feet. At least he’s got new titles by Julia Child, Anne Rice, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez to keep bookshelves warm.