Roundup: Seven’s Lehrmann crisis talks, Paramount and Skydance enter exclusive merger talks

Bruce Lehrmann

Taylor Auerbach, Hunterbrook Capital, Disney defeats activist Nelson Peltz, Marcia Hines, Wayne Carey.

Lehrmann case

Seven’s crisis talks ahead of today’s face-off

Seven West executives held crisis talks on Wednesday ahead of the media company’s Federal Court showdown with ex-Spotlight producer Taylor Auerbach, who has alleged in an affidavit filed with the court that the network committed numerous improprieties before and after it aired its exclusive sit-down interview with accused ­rapist Bruce Lehrmann last June, report The Australian’s James Madden and Sophie Elsworth

Seven’s director of news Craig McPherson, who is not named in the affidavit or accused of any wrongdoing, and Spotlight executive producer Mark Llewellyn were involved in the crisis talks which were held on floors above the newsrooms on Wednesday.

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See Also: Copied documents and financial perks: Lehrmann judgment delayed as new evidence emerges

‘Mission finally accomplished’: How Seven got its Lehrmann exclusive

Mark Llewellyn, the executive producer of Network Seven’s flagship Spotlight program, hit send on a text. “Mission finally accomplished,” he told two of his producers, Taylor Auerbach and Steve Jackson, at 10.14pm on Tuesday, March 14, 2023, reports Nine Publishing’s Sam Buckingham-Jones.

“Brilliant work gents,” Jackson replied. “Brilliant exclusive. Well played.”

The brief exchange was the culmination of four long months of cultivating a deepening relationship with former Liberal staffer and accused rapist Bruce Lehrmann.

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Former TV producer Taylor Auerbach told Seven boss the expenses were his

Former Seven producer Taylor Auerbach admitted in an extraordinary email to his then-boss the day after he spent more than $10,000 for a Thai masseuse service using the media company’s corporate credit card that the late-night services “had nothing to do with work”, report The Australian’s Janet Albrechsten and Stephen Rice.

The admission, in an email to Spotlight executive producer Mark Llewellyn, appears to be at odds with Auerbach’s sworn affidavit to the Federal Court that the $10,315 he spent at Sensai Thai Massage was incurred “for the benefit” of Bruce Lehrmann.

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Business of Media

News-powered hedge fund raises $100m to trade on reporters’ scoops

A US hedge fund has raised USD$100 million (AUD$153.5 million) to make trades based on articles by its affiliated newsroom, launching a novel experiment in funding investigative reporting as the media industry suffers a fresh round of lay-offs, report The Financial Times’ Kate Duguid and Joshua Franklin.

The business is an effort to pair the sort of investigative journalism typically done by newsrooms with a long-short hedge fund. The fund, Hunterbrook Capital, places trades based on scoops uncovered by reporters at the newsroom, Hunterbrook Media, which is separated by a layer of compliance.

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Paramount, Skydance enter exclusive merger talks, spurning USD$26 billion offer from Apollo

Members of Paramount Global’s board agreed to enter exclusive merger discussions with Skydance, favoring it over a recent $26 billion all-cash offer from private-equity firm Apollo Global Management, report The Wall Street Journal’s Jessica Toonkel and Miriam Gottfried.

The move means the entertainment conglomerate is putting on pause any conversations with other bidders for 30 days while it tries to work out a deal with Skydance, a production company led by David Ellison, people familiar with the matter said.

The decision could give Skydance an edge over Apollo, which earlier had offered $11 billion for Paramount’s movie studio, but on Sunday offered to buy the entire company for $26 billion, including debt.

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Disney, Bob Iger defeat activist Nelson Peltz in shareholder vote

Disney defeated activist shareholder Nelson Peltz in a bruising fight for influence in the entertainment giant’s boardroom, handing chief executive Bob Iger a major victory over one of Wall Street’s most aggressive investors, report The Wall Street Journal’s Robbie Whelan and Lauren Thomas.

The company said Wednesday that shareholders voted to elect its entire slate of board nominees, while Peltz, who has argued Disney needs a fresh voice to hold management accountable, lost his bid to become a director.

Disney said its slate of 12 directors won shareholder support “by a substantial margin,” according to preliminary results.

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‘I finished and went back to hospital, that’s show business’: Marcia Hines struck bargain with hospital doctors

Marcia Hines struck a bargain with her doctor to be released from hospital in time for the grand finale of Australian Idol last Monday, reports News Corp’s Mikaela Wilkes.

The 70-year-old star has a small row of stitches in her forehead from the fall she had in her Idol dressing room ahead of Idol’s penultimate show on that Sunday night.

“I don’t know what happened,” Hines told The Daily Telegraph at Capitol Theatre on Tuesday morning, where she is preparing for Sydney’s opening night of Grease.

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Sports Media

‘Absolute disgrace’: Wayne Carey slams attacks on AFL legends in media roles

Wayne Carey has slammed criticism of commentators as “horrendous”, saying footy legends deserve more respect, reports News Corp’s Jackie Epstein.

Carey, a former commentator with Channel Seven and Triple M, said he thought it was a disgrace seeing people like Trent Cotchin and Joel Selwood cop backlash from the likes of Kane Cornes and social media trolls.

“The negative feedback that people like Joel Selwood and legends like Luke Hodge (get), these guys are absolute legends,” he said on his The Truth Hurts podcast with Tony Sheahan.

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