Celebrity news for the week of July 26
Deals The high-stakes auction for MGM/UA is over. The studio’s management, led by chairman Frank Mancuso, 63, and financed by billionaire Kirk Kerkorian, 79, bought the entertainment conglomerate for $1.3 billion. Good news for MGM employees, since it was assumed that many of the potential buyers — including Morgan Creek and Fox — had been eyeing MGM’s film library and might have shut down the studio’s resurgent movie-production unit. (One losing suitor, PolyGram, had been interested in film production.) Kerkorian, who sold MGM in 1990 to Italian investor Giancarlo Parretti for $1.3 billion, reemerges atop the studio he headed during a controversial reign in the ’70s and ’80s. Says one MGM exec, ”The bottom line is I get to keep my job.”
Recovering Gregory Peck, 80, after an appendectomy, July 14, in the Czech Republic. The actor was in the country to accept a lifetime achievement award from a local film festival….
Robert Guillaume cut his head after he collapsed during a July 11 memorial service for Margaux Hemingway at the Santa Monica Pier. Guillaume, 58, a close friend of Hemingway’s, received stitches at a nearby hospital.
Deaths Producer Pandro Berman, 91, of heart failure, July 13, at his home in Beverly Hills. Berman brought more than a hundred movies to the screen, including such classic Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers musicals as Top Hat and The Gay Divorcee….
NBC Nightly News anchor and commentator John Chancellor, 68, of stomach cancer, July 12, in Princeton, N.J. In a career that spanned more than 40 years, the Chicago-born newsman never lost his unruffled demeanor, even while covering his own arrest at the Republican National Convention in 1964. ”He was a great companion with a mischievous sense of humor,” said NBC’s Tom Brokaw in a statement….
Smashing Pumpkins tour keyboardist Jonathan Melvoin, 34, of a heroin overdose, July 12, in a New York City hotel room. Melvoin was discovered by the band’s drummer, Jimmy Chamberlin, who was charged with possession of a controlled substance. Ironically, Melvoin’s father, Michael, former chairman of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, is an anti-drug activist. (Melvoin’s sister Wendy worked with Prince in the mid-’80s.) The band has postponed all shows through July 27.