Time Warner Shareholder Rails Against George Clooney During Annual Meeting
"I would like to know how much Mr. Clooney has received, how much money is going to Lebanon and to his wife," a shareholder questioned CEO Jeff Bewkes.
Things got testy at Time Warner's annual meeting on Friday when CEO Jeff Bewkes found it necessary to interrupt a shareholder who, during a question and answer period, suggested there was something nefarious about George Clooney's marriage to Amal Alamuddin.
"I have a compensation question. How much have you paid George Clooney for Gravity and Argo?" the woman asked Bewkes before launching into a rambling, minutes-long attack on the actor and his Lebanese bride, accusing the couple of funneling money to enemies of America and Israel.
"Alamuddin has been portrayed in the press as a sexy, international civil rights lawyer. She is not. She is a criminal lawyer. A defense attorney who puts the worst tyrants back on the streets," the woman said.
Bewkes gave the shareholder plenty of rope but eventually interrupted. "Excuse me. We cannot allow this meeting to be the place where personal and political views from any of us are expressed," the CEO said.
"I would like to know how much Mr. Clooney has received, how much money is going to Lebanon and to his wife," she said, having ticked off Clooney's alleged expenses for his wedding, honeymoon and homes he has purchased abroad.
"In terms of what any of our actors, directors, writers make as citizens of the United States, they're free to spend their money where they choose, and it is not something that our company has any influence over, or power about, nor do we have knowledge of it, and we should not further detour this meeting to discuss those matters," Bewkes said.
She closed by accusing journalists at Time Warner of misrepresenting Alamuddin in their reporting. "This is not a fashion show for a prime minister, clients who are in jail instead of running for elections or for Lebanese tribunal."
Time Warner's annual meeting was in Atlanta, Georgia. It didn't last long, but nearly every question and shareholder proposal had political overtones, if not quite as bizarre and testy as the one involving Clooney.
One shareholder, for example, asked Bewkes to adopt "company-wide nutrition standards" when it comes to advertising and licensing to children. Another shareholder introduced a proposal to curb the depiction of smoking tobacco in the company's films and movies. Another proposal involved setting goals for Time Warner to manage "climate risk." Both proposals were voted down.
Bewkes began the meeting by introducing several TV and movie clips, including Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which he called the most anticipated movie of 2016, and a very intense Johnny Depp as gangster Whitey Bulger in Black Mass, due Sep. 18. Nothing got a bigger reaction from the audience, though, than an old scene from The Sopranos, which Bewkes played to promote HBO Now, the premium channel's Internet streaming service. "Bring em back," Bewkes said after the clip.