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Khan Manka, Jr. - The Chairman's Blog: September 2008 Archives

September 2008 Archives

anil_dhirubhai_ambani.jpgGood morning.  Last night, as Haim Saban and I were watching the Dodgers lose but still manage to clench their division, I received a very interesting visit from that guy that invested all that money in DreamWorks [Executive Assistant Note:  His name is Anil Dhirubhai Ambani of the Reliance ADA Group].  He said he just happened to be down the street at Steven Spielberg's house dropping off the $500 million dollar check.  As he passed my estate, he asked his driver who lived there.  When he found out I lived there, he immediately told the driver to stop and see if I was home. 

Long story short - he came in and said with great fanfare that he would like to invest $2 billion dollars for an equity share of Manka Bros. StudiosHaim let out a high pitched squeal and said "take it, take it, take it!"  I asked Haim to go get us some chai or something and leave us alone.  I then gave Anil my one word response:  "No fucking way." 

manka_brothers_ellis island_1901.jpgAs he stood there stunned, I told him a story.  A story about three brothers named Mankewitz who left the safety and comfort of glorious Bulgaria in 1901 to come to America with nothing but a bag full of gold that their father left them before he died.   Thanks to a favorable commodities market at the time, the Mankewitz brothers (changed to 'Manka' at Ellis Island) were able to parlay that gold into a major movie production studio - The Khan Mankewitz Moving Pictures Company.  Over the years, through war, multiple divorces, Academy Awards snubs and economic downturns, the brothers prevailed and built the world's largest media companyManka Bros. Studios is 90 years old - and, as I told Anil, there is no f-ing way in hell I am giving up any form of control!

I saw a tear in Anil's eye when he said:  "But you will go bankrupt."

"Then we will go bankrupt!"  (But I know we won't because our 2009 movie slate is going to be huge!) 

I shook Anil's hand and walked him out.  "Thanks so much for your $2 billion dollar offer.  It would have really fixed some things at the studio - saved us from massive cutbacks and layoffs; fought off Carl Icahn and his hostile takeover attempt; allowed us to pay for some of the huge projects were moving forward with... but, just like my father and uncles would have told, Manka Bros. is not for sale - not even five percent."

I saw a glint of respect in his eyes because I think he saw for the first time in his life that there are some people that just can't be bought.

I then saw Haim Saban run screaming after Anil.  "Wait, wait, Univision is for sale!"

khan_jr1_small.jpgKhan Manka, Jr. - Chairman & CEO - Manka Bros. Studios
les_moonves.jpgLes Moonves is crazy (which I already know from that eating fire trick he loves to do at parties).  Or he's lying.  Or both.  Like all of us moguls, he just wants his statement to be true.  We need it to be true because there is a feeling that our glory days of ultimate power are coming to an end.  Les said that broadcast television is still the only place to reach 40 million people at one time.  That's right - 40 million people all saying "this show sucks".

The Emmy broadcast was an embarrassment to mankind - an embarrassment not seen since the Soviets beat the United States into space.  It was bad enough that Manka Bros. didn't have one nomination in the major categories - but then for a Basic Cable show (Mad Men) to win Best Drama?  Are you fucking kidding me? 

This was the main issue of discussion at the Manka Bros. after-party at the Old Spaghetti Factory in Fullerton (in which I could only make a brief appearance before attending the Entertainment Tonight party at the Walt Disney Hall - special thanks to Anne Sweeney for the use of the Disney helicopter).  Kiefer Sutherland, the cast of MBS' Forensics, and Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson (who flew  in from Washington) were talking most of the night about the need to consolidate the number of TV channels to no more than ten (including just one Spanish channel).  This would allow powerful executives like Les Moonves, Peter Chernin, Bob Iger and myself to remain as gatekeepers - allowing the public to see only what we want them to see - when we want them to see it.  It's bullshit that all this other crap exists.

henry_paulson.jpgPaulson compared the current state of network television to the subprime mess that has practically brought down the global economy.  "By allowing normal people without economic resources the chance to create content and put it up on the Internet or Basic Cable for all the world to see, the TV industry has committed corporate suicide.  Broadband, cable and satellite should never have seen the light of day.  The technology could and should have been killed in 1973.  It's now just a matter of time before "Dog Licking Balls" on wins Best Comedy Series at the Emmys." 

Believe me, I would love to travel back in time and destroy all the new technologies that are attempting to undercut the power of us media moguls.  But I know if I actually asked some geeks to invent that time travel machine, those same geeks would probably try to use it for their own advantages.

The f-ing geeks are ruining our shit!

khan_jr1_small.jpgKhan Manka, Jr. - Chairman & CEO - Manka Bros. Studios

P.S. - I'm attending an emergency big media roundtable discussion today and won't be in the office.

Emmy_Award.gif... and, once again, we don't have a single nomination in the major categories.  THIS IS ABSOLUTELY UNACCEPTABLE!  I am so tired of going to this stupid show, sitting with my colleagues, and watching them, one after the other, jump onto the stage to accept "this Emmy as reward for all their hard work".  WHAT ABOUT ALL MY HARD WORK?!  Jesus fucking Christ!

I called my friend Peter Roth, who used to be a PA at Manka Bros. Television Productions and is now President of Warner Bros. Television, and asked him why the industry keeps punishing us year after year.  "Punishing you?", he said.  "Have you seen any of the shows you produce?"  He laughed when I told him I had not.   (That wasn't entirely true.  I did sit down a few months ago and watched our Wednesday night comedy block.  The shows weren't funny and very few of them had commercials - which, I assume, is what we need to pay for the content.)

peter_roth.jpgPeter went on to say that we should not have hired "that Radio Shack guy" to run our Television Group.  He was talking about Jay McBee (who won a nationwide contest a couple of years ago to become the new head of the Manka Bros. Television Group.  At the time, he was working at a Radio Shack in Sioux Falls, Iowa).  I think it was an excellent social experiment based on the the fact that "nobody knows nothing"... plus, we only have to pay him $35,000 a year.  McBee is so lame he would probably accept the minimum wage. 

I wished Peter good luck on whatever shows he has up for awards and told him that next year will be the year of our great new show Severed Fingers.  He mentioned something about it "being a rip off of his show The Mentalist.  I mentioned that he would still be an Orange County surf punk if it weren't for me!  The conversation sort of degraded from there with me slamming Two And A Half Men and him calling Five Kids, Five Dads and One Mom the worst show ever produced in the history of television.  Eventually, he apologized and said he had to go make more quality programming.  Yeah... like The Wayans Bros. Show!

So... it's another year for Manka Bros. Television.  And another year without Emmys.  Let's get to work TV Group!  I will not be embarrassed again next year. 

And, whoever is doing the seating arrangements... do not put me behind John Stamos again this year!

khan_jr1_small.jpgKhan Manka, Jr. - Chairman & CEO - Manka Bros. Studios

Good morning.  First of all, I would like to thank Manka Bros. President & COO Lloyd Grohl for taking over my job for a couple of hours last week while I was in surgery to remove the screws from my foot.  I understand he was very productive.  It's never easy to cut $1 billion dollars a year from your capital budget but I think he did it with class and I'm sure even those who lost their jobs must be pleased with the way things were handled.

richard_fuld_lehman_brothers_CEO.jpgThis week, the financial world is in shock.  Lehman Brothers is bankrupt after 158 years in business and my friend, Richard Fuld, is the Chairman & CEO of Lehman Brothers.  If he can fail, then what chance do the rest of us have?  Actually, quite a good chance, since we're still here and he's looking for a job.  Ha ha.  [Off the record, I have offered Dick a first-look production deal at Manka Bros.  He has a couple of screenplay ideas that sound really good.  He'll let me know by tonight.]

Richard "The Gorilla" Fuld and I met over 30 years ago.  He was a die-hard Deadhead and used to follow the Grateful Dead in a Volkswagen van (he notched over 300 shows before Jerry Garcia died!).  As you all may know, I was in my own band back then and would catch the Dead whenever they played Southern California because of the easy access to experimental drugs.  Dick Fuld was known as the King of the Deadhead Parking Lot.  He organized drum circles, tie-dye t-shirt joint ventures, brownie sales, etc.  I knew he was cut out for business when he told me that he "increased bongo playing by 10% after just one week on the road".

richard_fuld_1970s.jpgI met him in the ocean near the Ventura County Fairgrounds where the Dead were playing.  He seemed a little out of it.  He had just seen Jaws and was trying to get a shark to eat him.  I pulled him out of the ocean, gave him a beer and we've been friends ever since.

After he worked his way up the Lehman Brothers chain, finally becoming Chairman & CEO in 1994, we continued to be close.  Lehman Brothers funded every Manka Bros. project I threw his way.  He once told me, "If you can dream it - I can fund it." 

Our most recent deal with Lehman was in 2007.  Dick gave us a $500 million dollar line of credit to complete Rampage Of The Stegosaur (which went on to lose over $200 million) and several other movies on our slate that year.  We had run out of money by Valentine's Day and really needed that infusion of cash to get us through the year.  I remember Dick Fuld telling me after I asked for the money:  "Look, Khan, I'm pissing thousand dollar bills these days.  And I drink a lot of water.  So I make a lot of piss.  Whatever you need, you got."  Those days are apparently over.

I assume we don't have to pay that money back now.  Which is good - because we don't have it.

khan_jr1_small.jpgKhan Manka, Jr. - Chairman & CEO - Manka Bros. Studios
lloydgrohl1.gifI suppose 'Guest Blogger' isn't the appropriate term considering I am completely in charge of the studio until approximately 2:00pm today when Khan Manka awakens from his surgery.  So for the next two hours or so, I am Chairman & CEO of Manka Bros. and I am, therefore, making the following changes / reductions in our organization.

As you all may know from my recent Merrill Lynch Mediatainment presentation, Manka Bros. has had a bad year.  Because of all the recent failures on the theatrical and television side, I have found it necessary to immediately cut $1 billion from our annual capital expenditures effective immediately.  (I would appreciate all those who are fired to be out of your offices or cubicles by 2:00pm today.)

manka_bros_studios.jpgThe following cuts and/or policy changes have been made:

  • The MIS and IT Departments have been completely eliminated and replaced by Geek Squad.  Please call your local Best Buy with any computer or software issues you may have.  Future installations of studio software are ordered to utilize "lite" versions
  • Going forward, all productions will be shot on the studio lot.  Location fees are killing us.  Please adjust any current productions or future scripts to have them take place on a studio lot (or, even better, just fake whatever location you need using 'Hollywood Magic')
  • Please keep 'Hollywood Magic' to a minimum.  Talking animal movies must only show the animals in reaction shots.  This will eliminate the cost of making their lips move
That's it for the big announcements.  Making these cuts puts us well on our way to hitting that $1 billion figure.  However, there are other new policies which will save the company money without much of an effort on the employees' part.  For example:

  • If you're leaving a room, please turn out the lights
  • Tap water is now the official bottled water of Manka Bros.
  • For a small charge, the commissary will refrigerate your leftovers
  • "Take A Penny, Leave A Penny" in the commissary is now converted to "Leave A Penny"
  • All car chases are to be driven at a more fuel efficient 55 mph
  • Employees are strongly encouraged to charge cellphones and laptops at home
  • Craft Services must start using coupons and club cards (if my mother can do it, so can they).  We must bring down the cost of Red Vines
  • Offices of VP levels and below - thermostats are to remain at 82 degrees
  • Unpaid interns are to be used in senior management positions (and remain unpaid)
These are just some of the hundreds of cuts to be made over the next few months.  A full list will be sent to you via snail mail.  Electronic mail is just too expensive.  Once Khan Manka wakes up from his surgery, he may have other items to add to the list.

manka bros studio_1918_small.jpgManka Bros. has survived 90 years and remains the World's Largest Media Company.  We will get through this difficult patch and fight off Carl Icahn and his band of thugs.


Lloyd Grohl - acting Chairman & CEO - Manka Bros. Studios

khan_manka_broken_ankle.jpgGood morning.  This day has finally arrived.  Today, I will be admitted to Cedars-Sinai Hospital and the screws that have held my foot together for these past three months will be removed (in an injury caused by Steve Jobs' horrible dog Sasha). 

lloydgrohl1.gifBecause I will be completely knocked out by a general anesthesia, I am transferring full control of Manka Bros. over to President & COO Lloyd Grohl until I awaken sometime this afternoon.

I encourage all Manka Bros. employees to pray for me.

khan_jr1_small.jpgKhan Manka, Jr. - Chairman & CEO - Manka Bros. Studios
rupert_murdoch.jpgRupert Murdoch hosted a charity benefit last night in his North Hollywood apartment.  I was expecting a man of his wealth and power to have a nicer place but he said keeping his personal living expenses down was the main reason he could afford to buy companies like MySpace and the Wall Street Journal.  That's fair enough - but  the cement block and plywood bookshelves seemed a little ridiculous.

moguls_find_lost_kittens_logo.jpgBut anyway, on to the benefit.  For many years, Rupert has been involved in the charity Moguls Find Lost Kittens (or M.I.L.K.).  He started it after his son, Lachlan, lost his baby kitten, Joey, when he was 17 years old and wouldn't stop crying, screaming and sucking his thumb.  Rupert vowed to find Joey and launched a charity in the process called Murdoch Finds Lost Kittens (also M.I.L.K.).  (It was changed to "Moguls" after Dick Parsons and Sumner Redstone heard about it and also wanted to get involved.  Legend has it they both had traumatic childhoods that involved lost kittens.)

The party was okay.  The food not bad.  I didn't realize it was BYOB so I had to bum a couple of beers from Sheryl Crow, who was the evening's entertainment.  There wasn't room in the apartment for her band - so she just did a few songs on acoustic guitar.  

After we all had some Doritos and cubes of cheddar cheese, Rupert stood in front of the crammed gathering in his living room.  Most were sitting on the floor or the window sill.  I got the couch because I had to put my foot up due to my injured ankle.   Rupert waited for silence.  (Bob Iger was getting pretty drunk on the two bottles of 1997 Opus One that he brought [he didn't share] and wouldn't stop yakking about High School Musical 3.  Okay, okay - it's going to be huge.  We get it!) 

joey_the_kitten.jpgWhen it was quiet, Sheryl Crow started to play softly on the guitar and Rupert held up a picture of a kitten:  "This is Joey.  In 1988, my son, Lachlan, lost this kitten and nearly committed suicide.  I vowed on that day to find all the lost kittens of the world.  It is a monumental task.  A far bigger task than building a media empire.  Everyone in this room knows how to do that.  But we don't know how to find all the lost kittens.  Will you join me in this effort?"

Sue Decker of Yahoo! and Eric Schmidt of Google were crying.  In fact, we were all visibly moved.  And we all got out our checkbooks.

Rupert Murdoch is a great friend.  And a great man.

khan_jr1_small.jpgKhan Manka, Jr. - Chairman & CEO - Manka Bros. Studios

Summer Is Over...

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... Get back to work.

September 2008 will be the most exciting month in the history of Manka Bros. Studios.   There are deals being made and firings being planned.  There are divisions that will be started and divisions that will be cut.  Stay tuned to find out which list you will be on.

Thanks to Lars Ulrich for Guest Blogging yesterday.

khan_jr1_small.jpgKhan Manka, Jr. - Chairman & CEO - Manka Bros. Studios

P.S. - Carl Icahn is a prick.

About Khan Manka, Jr.

Khan Manka, Jr. - Chairman & CEO - Manka Bros. StudiosKhan Manka, Jr. assumed the title of Chairman of the Board of Manka Bros. Studios - The World's Largest Media Company - following his father Harry Manka's death in 1976. Before that he was the member of several Southern California rock bands.

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