Sky isn't falling, Hollywood moguls maintain

Thu Sep 18, 2008 12:59am EDT
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By Georg Szalai and Paul Bond

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - With their stocks in freefall for the second time this week, the response from media moguls Wednesday was along the lines of: What? Me worry?

DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, speaking along with other executives at an investor conference, set the tone early by predicting the movie industry will weather just about any economic storm.

"Both traditionally as well as recently, we have seen that our product is, at worse, recession-resistant and, more optimistically and historically, has actually been recession-proof."

As the he spoke, the Dow was well on its way to Wednesday's 449-point decline. And that 4.1% drop made it the best-performing major index of the day. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq were off 4.7% and 4.9%, respectively.

Echoing Katzenberg's optimism in various ways were News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch, Time Warner CEO Jeffrey Bewkes and CBS Corp CEO Leslie Moonves.

Paradoxically, the executives were speaking in New York at the Communacopia conference hosted by Goldman Sachs on a day when the venerable Wall Street firm saw its own stock sink 14%, its steepest one-day decline in history.

Moonves even turned the tables on one of the Goldman analysts as they sat down for their fireside chat. "Interesting week to be here," Moonves quipped. "Can I ask you a question?"

The shares of both CBS and News Corp hit new 52-week lows Wednesday, following respective slides of 5.7 percent and 6.3 percent. DreamWorks Animation ended the day down 2.7 percent and Time Warner was off 2.5 percent.   Continued...