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PEOPLE : MCA Vice Chairman Tom Pollock Resigns

March 13, 1996|JAMES BATES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

MCA Inc. Vice Chairman Tom Pollock, a veteran Hollywood lawyer who served as the entertainment company's top film executive for nine years until shortly after Seagram Co. bought control of the company last year, resigned from his post Tuesday.

Pollock's departure, effective immediately, had long been expected by Hollywood as part of the extensive management revamping that has occurred at MCA since the beverage giant paid $5.7 billion to buy 80% of MCA from Japan's Matsushita Electric Industrial Co.

During Pollock's tenure, MCA distributed such hit films under the Universal Pictures banner as "Babe," "Apollo 13" and "The Flintstones," as well as the Steven Spielberg films "Schindler's List" and "Jurassic Park," which is Hollywood's top-grossing film worldwide, with sales of $916 million.

Despite those hits, the studio was often criticized for depending too heavily on a handful of producers and directors--notably Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment and Imagine Films--for its movies. It also was at the center of a firestorm of controversy last summer when the budget of the film "Waterworld" soared to an unprecedented $172 million.

Shortly after the Seagram deal closed, Pollock moved into a strategic post to help Seagram Chief Executive Edgar Bronfman Jr. in the transition. Pollock was succeeded as head of the film operation a short time later by his longtime protege, Casey Silver.

Pollock's leaving is the latest of a string of departures of top MCA managers since Seagram took the reins. Longtime Chief Executive Lew R. Wasserman took a chairman emeritus post, and President Sidney J. Sheinberg formed a production company backed by MCA. Music chief Al Teller and television chief Tom Wertheimer were forced out.

Former Creative Artists Agency President Ron Meyer has been running MCA as president and chief operating officer since last summer. Bronfman has been exploring bringing in former Viacom Inc. Chief Executive Frank J. Biondi Jr. as chief executive, but sources said no deal has been made.

In an interview, Pollock said he has no immediate plans other than to stick with his philosophy to "never do the same thing twice" in his career.

"It's very amicable, and not unexpected for me. I was not forced out in any way," he said.

In a statement, Bronfman praised Pollock's work during the transition, citing his efforts in forging MCA's alliances with DreamWorks SKG and video game maker Sega.

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