Semel not talking about IMG

Moguls mum at the Herb Allen & Co. retreat

SUN VALLEY, Idaho -- Former Yahoo CEO and Warner Bros. co-chair Terry Semel was among the many moguls at the Herb Allen & Co. retreat here whose main recreation, at least Thursday, seemed to be actively avoiding reporter questions -- in his case, the possibility of a takeover of talent management company IMG.

"I made a bid for the company, and I don't know the result," was about all the exec would say. "You saw the stories. It looks like no."

Semel apparently bid some $3 billion to buy the company, but a response from IMG's Teddy Forstmann has not been forthcoming.

"We have other things in the hopper that we're looking at, so we'll continue to look at those," he said. "I wanted to take their management firm and turn it into a media company with a focus on digital distribution."

Semel also denied that he had solicited or collected any money from Dubai or the United Arab Emirates for the venture.

Still, if a deal for IMG were to happen, it would have an element of piquancy: It would mean reuniting former Warners exec Semel with Chris Albrecht, the former president of HBO. Albrecht is now running IMG, which reps Tiger Woods and Giselle Bundchen.

In other Sun Valley sightings, Paramount chairman Brad Grey and Viacom president and CEO Philippe Dauman, after having an enjoyable Allen & Co.-sponsored lunch, declined comment on a New York Times item Thursday about Viacom founder Sumner Redstone settling with his daughter Shari to buy out her interest in the company. Dauman and Grey walked quickly away from the pair of journalists tracking them, with only the bare acknowledgement, "We aren't commenting on that."

Also taking the air out of reporters' balloons was Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang, who said Thursday that he was unlikely to meet with reps of its potential suitor Microsoft in the next few days in Idaho.

While walking in the lobby of the venue for the confab, Yang was asked by Reuters if he had plans to link up with Microsoft executives while there. He said only, "I don't think so,"

Former Disney chairman Michael Eisner, who no longer has to worry about the possibility of a SAG strike crippling his studio, was similarly tight-lipped about his opinion of the negotiations or the crucial state of play betwen the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers and the actors union. "I won't talk about the SAG strike," he said. "I won't go there."

But despite their history, Eisner did talk about his former Disney colleague Jeffrey Katzenberg's presentation on 3-D. "It was incredible," he said, "and Jeff did a great job with identifying the technology behind the 3-D presentations."

One of the stranger entertainments to surface Thursday at the retreat involved a mock presidential election in which ballots were circulated to conference attendees. The twist: It also was being given to the kids of all the moguls. In keeping with the uniform silence on almost anything of real interest to reporters, no "election" results were issued, so it's unclear which candidate was the favorite among the mogul crowd -- or with their kids.
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