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'Tooned Out : Sale of Woodland Hills' Filmation to French Group Leaves Former Workers in Suspended Animation

February 14, 1989|JAMES BATES | Times Staff Writer

But the Europeans had other plans. Some former Filmation workers question whether the French group ever wanted to continue production. And it is unclear what will happen to "Bugzburg" and "Bravo." Former Filmation workers said the shows may be finished by a Far East studio if arrangements can be made by the French group.

The decision on continuing the shows likely will be made by the man who negotiated the acquisition, Michael W. Stevens, a secretive London financier who built a fortune in real estate. Stevens has been active in acquiring television programs for Europe, where the number of channels is growing rapidly. Last year, Stevens bought the foreign television, video and cable rights to De Laurentis Entertainment Group's film library for $69 million.

According to one source familiar with the deal, Filmation's buyer is Parafrance, a French entertainment company that Stevens and his brother, Anthony, bought control of in 1985. Last year, Parafrance was grouped with several other French firms into a company called Paravision, a Paris company controlled by L'Oreal.

Stevens did not return numerous calls last week to his hotel in New York. But Graham Dowson, an associate of Stevens' in London, confirmed Stevens' role in the Filmation acquisition, describing him as a partner with L'Oreal in television ventures.

David Jones, an analyst in Paris who follows L'Oreal for the investment firm S.G. Warburg & Co., said L'Oreal's television interests are growing fast, but remain a small part of the company's business. Jones said L'Oreal has revealed little about its plans for its television business, adding that the company's management probably considers television as a good place to invest some of the huge amounts of cash that the company generates.

The normally talkative Scheimer has refused interview requests since the studio closed. Scheimer's only message since the closing came in a full-page ad in Friday's Hollywood Reporter and Variety trade publications thanking his workers.

"I cannot say goodbye," he said.

Free-lance writer Charles Solomon contributed to this story.

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