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Zell Watch

Is Sam Zell Quitting?

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Is Sam Zell about to walk away from the steaming pile of newspaper sludge he’s created?

Josh Kosman at the New York Post writes:

So much for Sam Zell, newspaperman.

The developer, who arranged a controversial $11.7 billion employee buyout of newspaper giant Tribune only to see the company careen into bankruptcy a year later, is on the verge of giving up his claims to buy a huge stake in the company and, according to a source familiar with the matter, is ready to walk away from the company.

Sam, sell. Sam – sell. Sam sell!

Previously on FBLA:

  • Sam Zell–Tribune’s New Owner
  • Sam Zell: Mogul, Oracle and Chachka Pusher?

  • Zell Could Lose Control of Tribune Co.

    zellysmelly.jpg
    Apparently when you file for Chapter 11 there are consequences: Re-organization of assets – lenders threatening to yank your “management”…er Sam Zell. Who knew.

    From LAT:

    “It completely depends on whether the new owners see value in keeping Zell,” said Douglas Baird, a corporate reorganization specialist at the University of Chicago Law School. “They have to decide: Is the person at the helm when the company went into the storm the most able person to steer it out?”

    They have to decide: Is the person who wrecked the car also able do a decent lube job?

    Previously on FBLA: Reporters and Editors React to Sam Zell’s Announcement, Sam Zell: F&*$%@#G Democrats, Sam Zell To Staffers: ‘We’re In This Together’

    John S. Carroll: Zell “Idiot in Terms of Journalism”

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    Aw! We just love when someone besides us calls Sam Zell an idiot.

    Of course, he could have us killed for his pocket change…he is a billionaire. Of course he’s also too cheap to pay for his own freaking lawyer while beat reporters are getting laid off. So maybe we’ll live to insult another day!

    John S. Carroll was editor of the Los Angeles Times from 2000 to 2005 before that he was at the The Baltimore Sun. He talked with Executive Editor Tom Linthicum from the Maryland Daily Record.

    From the Daily Record:

    “Zell may be a genius in other lines of work, but he is an idiot in terms of journalism,” Carroll said.

    Waller, who retired from The Sun in 2003, also had choice words for Tribune’s business practices.

    “Tribune management confuses innovation with idiocy,” he said. “I could wear my underwear over my trousers and Tribune would think that’s innovation. Everybody else would think I was wacko.”

    Read more

    Struggling Tribune Co. to Pay for Zell’s Lawyer in Blago Case

    Sam_Zell_03_CMYK222.jpgDivorce yourself from the fact that the LA Times is melting. Don’t think of how the home of the late humorist, H.L. Mencken – the Baltimore Sun (also a Tribune Co holding) is now a shell of its former self.

    The Chicago Tribune reports:

    Financially strapped Tribune Co. plans to pay the legal bills of Chairman and Chief Executive Sam Zell, who has been interviewed as a potential witness in the federal corruption investigation of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, according to a company filing Tuesday in bankruptcy court.

    Sam Zell is a freaking billionaire! Billion. Billionaire. Tycoon. Mogul. Has money. Not broke. Not worried about his health care or 401K. Billionaire.

    He can’t pay his own legal bills? Just this once? This time? Serious?

    Zell Interviewed By Feds in Blago Case

    best 2.jpgSam Zell owner/murderer of the Tribune Co. was interviewed by the feds and hired defense attorney, Anton Valukas in regards to the Rob Blagojevich investigation. Todd Lighty and Robert Becker report:

    Tribune Co. also acknowledged state records, recently obtained by the Chicago Tribune, that show Zell making a phone call and giving a gift to Blagojevich.

    According to records of Blagojevich’s telephone logs, Zell placed a call to the governor Dec. 8, the day before the arrest.

    Zell? A gift? We’ve heard of such things before:

    Waxword/TheWrap has learned that every New Year, Zell sends 675 custom-made bronze statues to his friends with his business predictions. In 2002 it was a naked man turning a wheel to the musical theme, “Get Over It.” In 2004 it was “This Land,” featuring the arm of the Statue of Liberty grasping her torch aloft. But on the eve of the millennium in 1999, it was a buck naked man standing on a stack of Wall Street Journals (photo, below), predicting a catastrophic collapse of overvalued assets under the title, “The Emperor Has No Clothes.” A switch at the back of the statue sets off Zell’s raspy whine:

    You’d just expect a sexier gift from a freakin’ mogul.

    Speaking of sexy – we take this opportunity to admit our secret crush on federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. He’s so smart and he’s a runner and he’s awesome. Flutter.

    Sam Zell: Mogul, Oracle and Chachka Pusher?

    zell_statue.jpgWe think we’d find this story cute and endearing if it wasn’t about someone who’s name will be on the LA Times’ tombstone.

    Sharon Waxman shares that owner of the Tribune Company, Sam Zell‘s holiday traditions:

    Waxword/TheWrap has learned that every New Year, Zell sends 675 custom-made bronze statues to his friends with his business predictions. In 2002 it was a naked man turning a wheel to the musical theme, “Get Over It.” In 2004 it was “This Land,” featuring the arm of the Statue of Liberty grasping her torch aloft. But on the eve of the millennium in 1999, it was a buck naked man standing on a stack of Wall Street Journals (photo, below), predicting a catastrophic collapse of overvalued assets under the title, “The Emperor Has No Clothes.” A switch at the back of the statue sets off Zell’s raspy whine:

    Oh and he’s also the narrator of said statue. Whole story is here. Shudder.

    Sam Zell Considers Buying the Orange County Register

    dfrrrrrfgdfg55656.jpgThe Financial Times reports:

    Tribune Company is considering whether it can buy the Orange County Register and fuse it with its flagship Los Angeles Times to consolidate the Los Angeles newspaper market, as owner [Sam Zell] scrambles to find ways to save the debt-swamped newspaper company.

    Tribune has held talks over a deal to either buy the Orange County Register from its owner, Freedom Communications, or to strike up an agreement through which the Orange County Register and LA Times could combine production and distribution operations to save money, according to media industry sources.

    – Per LA Observed

    We (Heart) Roy Rivenburg

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    Yes, we’re a few days late with this, but we were busy atoning for our sins. Looks like we have another sin to apologize for: The sin of not getting this to you sooner. Check out Roy Rivenburg‘s latest “edition” of Not The L.A. Times:

    Determined to quash “treasonous” leaks to a local journalism blog, L.A. Times publisher Eddy Hartenstein has grounded the entire newsroom for a month, revoking their TV privileges and forbidding them from going to the Homecoming dance next Friday.

    Sam Zell To Staffers: ‘We’re In This Together’

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    Sam Zell sent staffers the following e-mail this afternoon:

    Partners,

    We are about to release a statement on the lawsuit filed yesterday by a staffer at the LA Times and several former Times employees. I want to share it with you first, but I also want to stress that as we work to fix our company, we are all in this together.

    As newspaper advertising revenues have declined severely over the last several months, we’ve had to take some tough steps. We’re not alone, of course — the entire publishing industry is trying to deal with the challenges posed by a tough advertising environment and an economy in turmoil. At Tribune, we’re making tremendous progress-reinventing our newspapers, expanding television news, growing WGN America, and developing a new Internet platform. We’re being watched and imitated.

    The overwhelming majority of our employees have risen to the occasion — they are working extremely hard, innovating as never before, trying new things, pushing the envelope. They are using their own best judgment and questioning authority when they need to — something employees at this company rarely did in the past.

    But there is a difference between questioning authority or challenging the “business as usual attitude,” and maligning the company in public. That’s just bad judgment and does no one any good. It’s a distraction that’s unnecessary.

    We are partners. We need to act like it.

    Sam

    Official Tribune statement about the staffers’ lawsuit follows:

    Read more

    Hey, Stop Suing Yourself…

    latlogo1.gifWe were curious how a newspaper would cover itself suing itself.

    Jerry Hirsch wrote the piece:

    Tribune management declined to comment.

    Well that clears it up.

    Sam Zell took over the Tribune Company last December and he’s already getting sued by his employees? That kind of arrogance and short-sightedness is normally reserved for the government. It’s like he’s bridging the divide…

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