OMAHA, Nebraska (Reuters) - It’s part of Warren Buffett’s job not just to answer questions from many of the 31,000 people at the annual meeting of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. He also has to entertain.
Especially if the entertainment involves Susan Lucci, one of America’s best-known soap opera stars.
Part of the roughly one-hour movie preceding this year’s meeting, produced by Buffett’s daughter Susie, showed a clip of Buffett’s recent cameo on the soap opera “All My Children.” Buffett, who plays himself, visits Erica Kane, portrayed by Lucci, who is in prison on an insider trading charge.
The movie included faux news reports about his leaving Berkshire, which the 77-year-old has run since 1965, to swap jobs with Lucci.
So at the start of the meeting, instead of Buffett emerging with Berkshire Vice Chairman Charlie Munger, Lucci came out.
And she promised change.
“The first thing we need to change is our dividend policy,” she said. “I have never heard of anything so cheap and so unfair to our shareholders.” Berkshire hasn’t paid a cash dividend since 1967.
She then urged Berkshire to give weekly guidance on earnings, and to pay directors more than $900 a year. That let directors — including Microsoft Corp Chairman Bill Gates, worth $58 billion — to jump up and roar approval.
Buffett, Berkshire’s chairman and chief executive officer and the world’s richest person with $62 billion according to Forbes magazine, then emerged.
“The deal is off,” he told Lucci. “My show is Berkshire Hathaway, and my role is to run it.... ‘All My Children’ can’t do without you. I can’t do without Berkshire.”
He urged Lucci to go to Borsheim’s, a Berkshire-owned jeweler that has struggled with declines in the housing market and consumer confidence “pick out anything you would like — and charge it to Charlie.” She then hugged Buffett and Munger.
The movie itself featured other celebrities, including the actress Jamie Lee Curtis and the voice of former CBS News veteran Walter Cronkite.