S U C K

"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 7 March 1997. Updated every WEEKDAY.
 
 
 
 
 

To Market, to Market

 

[]

He's not a doctor, but he played

one on TV. And even if his rerun

fees haven't put him on the back

nine, the experience still keeps

him in the black. These days,

former M*A*S*H star Wayne Rogers

applies poultices to

hemorrhaging bank accounts in

his new role - as a financial

adviser to the stars.

Specializing in the problems

endemic to monumental,

undeserved wealth, Trapper John,

MBA, recently explained his

management philosophy to People:

"Celebrities are businesses...

Burt Reynolds is an asset."

 

Perhaps you hadn't ever thought

of The Bandit quite that way.

But the truism that celebrities

are commodities is no longer

just a clever line - it's the

bottom one. February saw the

enormously successful public

offering of interest-bearing

David Bowie bonds.

 

The deal went down something like

this: The Thin White Duke was

craving cash, and he saw that

while on paper he was rich, his

net worth was all tied up in

future record royalties. So as

musicians often do when they

need money, he decided to tour.

What was different was that he

decided to tour Wall Street.

 

[]

There he and his band of

financiers trotted out hit

number after hit number: balance

sheets, cash flow statements,

and projected revenue based on

the Bowie franchise's past

operating performance. The

Street thought it recognized a

good gamble; they would issue

interest-bearing bonds with

Bowie's royalties as collateral.

He would get paid up front, they

would get to be in the music

business. And the bonds, each

representing a share of Mr.

Ziggy Stardust, would trade on

the open market, like orange

juice, pork bellies, or Intel.

 

At least in theory they would. In

reality, only a few select

institutional scalpers, like

Prudential, got a piece of the

rock star. Bowie, meanwhile,

probably entertained more people

with his financial prowess (he

made over US$50 million) than with

his latest public musical

offering, which peaked at an

underwhelming 39.

 

The market for this new kind of

personal finance - or "personnel

finance" - starts with an AAA

star like Bowie. But its

expansion into B-rated and junk

bonds is as close to a sure

thing as you'll see on Wall

Street. David Bowie today means

Dave Matthews and Dave Barry

tomorrow.

 

[]

It's not so unreasonable. You go

to a movie, you watch some

unknown actor steal a few

scenes, you walk out with a

hunch he's gonna hit the big

time. You can talk about him at

the water cooler, or you can put

your money where your mouth is,

and buy shares of his stock. If

you find out he hasn't gone

public yet, all the better. It

probably means he's still

waiting tables and would welcome

your venture capital. Five

hundred bucks on Matthew

McConaughey at Dazed and

Confused prices could be worth

over 50 Gs today.

 

[]

The possibilities, as usual, are

endless. Take the billions in

allowance money that's just

hanging out - the

teenage-capital market is hugely

under-penetrated. What better

way to get that cash working

than a Billboard Top 40 Mutual

Fund? It could pay dividends in

Tower Records gift certificates.

The kids would love it.

 

Or: The first 100,000 copies of

the new U2 disc could come with

a few shares of common stock,

turning a frivolous

entertainment expense into a

good, sound investment. All it

would take is a few fans on

Motley Fool touting UTWO as a

fabulous growth stock and the CD

would pay for itself in days.

 

The only thing really separating

The Hollywood Stock Exchange and

E*Trade is our faith that

Merrill Lynch's ability to

package a winner is greater than

CAA's. Who knows how long that

will last. All that's missing is

the appropriate news organ to

pump out summaries of the

trading day's activity - a Wall

Street Variety Journal.

"Dark-horse Oscar nominee Bill

Macy up 1-1/8," reports the

front page; "much-hyped Paglia

stock off a fraction, and shares

of Madeline Albright unchanged

on news of her being a Jew."

 

Fame and entertainment have

become more about money -

another truism. But money has of

late itself become so much more

entertaining. It probably has as

much to do with start-ups

throwing options around like

Monopoly scrip as any genuinely

rising interest in, well, rising

interest. But whatever the

cause, making money suddenly

seems less like work and more

like a game. Or at least that's

what Dow Jones and ITT, who

recently launched New York's

WBIS+ would like you to think.

The television channel throws

together the stuff guys like, in

the order they like it: "Sports,

money, and oh yeah, life."

 

[]

It's bound to succeed. Exhibit A:

OJ-2. Was not this model of

BIS+'s conflation (not to say

confusion) of real life with

finance and football a smash

hit? The only strange part is

that though the second trial

seemed to be a product of the

entertainment industry, it

actually came out of the court

system. (But then, these have

been swapping fluids lately,

too.) It was both a three-ring

circus and a product-liability

suit. Guilty of murder? No - but

responsible for wrongful deaths,

by all means. There was a

serious flaw in the Simpson

product for which the parent

company, O.J. Simpson, will be

made to pay. Sadly, he doesn't

have the cash.

 

Now, he could go bankrupt. Many

of the best celebrities do.

 

But is this is a man with no

profit potential? Of course not,

and that's why we expect the

more logical move from the

Juice: an IPO. With

wrongful-death compatriot Philip

Morris trading at 17

times earnings, it's an easy

play to call. Seventeen times,

say, $5 million in film and

book rights and the

not-guiltiest man in showbiz

would be sitting on over $80

megs in stock. He could pay off

the over-$30-million in

lawsuits, cover the tax bill,

and still have a

not-uncomfortable seven-figure

bank account - offshore, of

course. Granted he'd have to

sell a controlling interest in

himself to realize that much

profit. But then it's already

clear that the one person who

shouldn't be running O. J.

Simpson Inc. is O. J. Simpson.

His talents lie elsewhere.

 

So when you hear that the Juice

is having himself genetically

replicated, don't think of it as

cloning. Think of it as a

2-for-1 split.

 
 
 
courtesy of Johnny Cache

 
 
 

Fish Image
The Fish

[Netscape Inbox Direct]

Barrel Image

The Barrel
        
[Predictions by Suck]

Gun Image
The Gun

Fish Teaser

net.moguls Link
Other Work By
Johnny Cache
Fresh Fish