News Article

Modus Vivendi

NBC, Universal agree to merger. In one of the largest media mergers in years, the network and the movie studio will join forces

Tobey Maguire, Seabiscuit | AND THEY'RE OFF! Will Universal's ''Seabiscuit'' (and star Tobey Maguire) ride for the Peacock?
AND THEY'RE OFF! Will Universal's ''Seabiscuit'' (and star Tobey Maguire) ride for the Peacock?

Itching for ''Queer Eye: The Movie''? Hoping a sitcom spinoff of ''Bruce Almighty'' will keep Jennifer Aniston on NBC's Thursday lineup? Hey, either could happen, now that NBC and Universal are combining their assets under one shingle in a deal announced Tuesday. One of the largest media mergers of recent years, the new company, owned 80 percent by NBC parent General Electric and 20 percent by Universal parent Vivendi, would include broadcast and cable channels, film and TV studios, theme parks, and some of the most popular titles in movies and TV.

The merger, which ends NBC's status as the last broadcast network without affiliation to a major Hollywood studio, would unite GE's TV holdings -- including NBC and cable's Bravo (home of ''Queer Eye for the Straight Guy''), CNBC, MSNBC (co-owned by Microsoft), and Telemundo -- with Vivendi's movie and TV properties, which include Universal Studios (owner of a library of 5,000 movies ranging from 1930s horror classics like ''Frankenstein'' to current hits like ''Bruce'' and ''Seabiscuit''); cable channels USA (home of ''Monk''), Sci-Fi, and Trio; and Universal Television (producer of all the ''Law & Order series). In the short term, viewers can expect more Universal movies (especially staples like ''Jaws'') to air on NBC and Bravo, more cross-promotion (watch for Mike Myers to be ubiquitous on NBC in the days before ''The Cat and the Hat'' opens in November), and more ''Law & Order'' spinoffs. (No, Dick Wolf won't be the new company's CEO. That'll be current NBC chief Bob Wright.)

Alas, the deal does not include Vivendi's Universal Music Group, the largest of the five major labels, so you won't be seeing Eminem or Mariah Carey guest-hosting ''Today'' anytime soon. On the other hand, it also means Jay Leno won't be making a vanity rap album for Murder Inc. either.

Originally posted Sep 02, 2003