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France's Vivendi reaches for Seagram's rich film and music trove. What drives these deals?

It is as if God placed upon the earth these tools--movie studios, television networks, telephone companies, record labels, cable companies, Internet providers--and then stood back and waited for silly mortals to figure out how they all fit together. Last week's talk of a $35 billion purchase of Canada's Seagram by France's Vivendi represents the latest human attempt to make some of these pieces click into a seamless, revenue-generating new-economy Tinkertoy. The toy boys in this deal, Vivendi CEO Jean-Marie Messier, 43, and Seagram CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr., 45, can't resist the urge to merge Vivendi's telephone company, Internet provider and cable...

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