Dodgers deal comes with Hollywood element (again)
Peter Guber is bringing some Hollywood flash, and drama, to the Dodgers.
A longtime player in film and television, Guber, who is part of the Magic Johnson-led group that is buying the team for a record $2 billion, is a largely unknown commodity in sports circles. But he is a much more visible, and complicated, figure in the entertainment world.
Guber and Magic Johnson have joined forces before, including on the Dayton, Ohio, single-A minor-league affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds, which they continue to own. Guber also once owned the Dodgers’ triple-A affiliate when it was located in Las Vegas.
In Hollywood, Guber, 70, has had a hand in some of the best-known movies of the last four decades -- including “Batman,” “Rain Man” and “Midnight Express” -- but also has a checkered record, stemming primarily from his troubled tenure as head of Sony Pictures.
Beginning his career as a film and record producer, Guber came to run Sony in 1989. On his watch, the studio launched such TV shows as “Mad About You” and films including “Terminator 2” and “City Slickers.” But Guber also drew criticism from established Hollywood figures including director Michael Apted and producer Rob Cohen, who said Guber deceived him in negotiations.
Guber, who left Sony in 1994, later became the subject of a book, “Hit and Run: How Jon Peters and Peter Guber Took Sony for a Ride in Hollywood,” which painted a largely unflattering portrait of Guber and his former partner.
Guber has also drawn supporters in the industry. Bradley Fuller, a producer who is working with Guber’s current company, Mandalay Entertainment, on a new version of Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds,” said in an interview on Thursday that he admired Guber's people and deal-making skills.
“He’s a very compelling personality,” Fuller said. “When you come out of a meeting with him you find yourself saying, ‘Let’s do things the way Peter wants to do them.’” Guber could not be reached for comment.
In recent years, Guber has been expanding into sports via his subsidiary, Mandalay Sports Entertainment. He is a co-owner of the Golden State Warriors and also is an owner of a host of minor-league baseball teams -- including the New York Yankees’ triple-A affiliate in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Guber will not have to divest his minor-league teams as a result of a Dodgers deal.
Although Guber’s involvement brings an element of Hollywood know-how, fans could be forgiven for being wary of an owner who has an entertainment pedigree. It was less than a decade ago that the team was owned by 20th Century Fox parent News Corp. and run by former Warner Bros. honcho Bob Daly -- who later admitted that selling the team to Frank McCourt was a mistake.
-- Steven Zeitchik
Photo: Peter Guber at a Golden State Warriors basketball game in Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. Credit: Getty Images