Here goes: After many rumors, Tribune Company CEO Randy Michaels officially resigned last night, and he's currently replaced by "an executive council." Mere hours later, the media company, freed of Michaels's financial disorganization and reported sexual harassment, filed a reorganization plan backed by its leading creditors, the first step toward heading out of bankruptcy. The Wall Street Journal explains: "Together, the moves signal the beginning of the end of perhaps the darkest chapter in the media company's 163 years."
On top of that news, the company's creditors also won a judge’s approval to sue Tribune owner Sam Zell, leaping over a hurtle of red tape. Since Lee Abrams, Tribune’s former chief innovation officer, headed toward the emergency exits earlier this week, we're now looking at a possible full-scale takeover. Nikki Finke even returned from vacation to deal with this headache, and she's spinning the rumor mill already, claiming that Peter Chernin, film producer and former News Corp. COO, is eyeing Zell's lofty position. Take it away, Nikki:
Peter Chernin is on the short list to possibly replace Sam Zell as chairman of the Chicago-based Tribune Co when it emerges from bankruptcy soon. [He's] being "sounded out" by Tribune Co's creditors. The plan has the support of the leading lenders and debtholders one of whom, John Angelo of NYC hedge fund Angelo Gordon & Co, was trying to muscle his childhood pal [Michael] Eisner into the top spot. The selection of Eisner, who's been buying up Tribune debt on Angelo's advice, would be a huge mistake. The selection of Chernin, however, would make a lot of sense. Sure, Eisner is unquestionably a shrewd and successful businessman. But he is the wrong man to lead a Big Media company especially one like Tribune needing to restore its integrity.
And that is the day in Tribune Company news, until this afternoon.
Tribune CEO Resigns, Creditors Win Permission to Sue Zell [Bloomberg Businessweek]
Tribune Takes Crucial Step to Bankruptcy Exit [WSJ]
Forget Eisner: Now It's Chernin To Tribune? [Deadline]