(2 of 2)
So far. Aubrey has declined to comment on the uproar, which also includes several complaintsand more lawsuits over MGM's handling and promotion of films after the cutting stage. Since taking over the ailing studio in 1969, he has sold property and hacked away at expenses until, this year, he has brought MGM its first operating profit in four years ($7,835,000). Now, in cutting films as relentlessly as he has cut costs, he is presumably trying to capitalize on the commercial touch that he displayed back in his days as president of CBS-TV (among his hits: The Beverly Hillbillies and Petticoat Junction). Whether he can do so remains in doubt: MGM is still heavily in debt, and 50% of its features have not recovered costs.
With such high stakes in the balance, discontented producers like Michael Laughlin feel little confidence that their suits will succeed. "You just can't deal with Aubrey," he says. "He realizes that litigation can be a great expense, and that because of legal delays the film will have disappeared long before your case comes to court."