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To the End of the Game, The Seduction and Conquest of a Media Empire.

TO THE END OF TIME, The Seduction and Conquest of a Media Empire by Richard M. Clurman (Simon & Schuster - 349 p.) brings to life in an almost three-dimensional way the $14.9 billion merger of Warner Brothers and Time Magazine, how it came about, who the key players were and how this giant deal affected one and all on both the business and cultural sides. It is a superlative account of corporate wheeling and dealing, of rampant greed and ambition and - above all - the somewhat larger-than-life (though by no means admirable) ego-fed personality of Warner chairman Steve Ross.

In fact, it is really Ross who dominates the book, though Clurman does an expert job in recreating the tortuous process of achieving the merger of two such disparate corporations, and the importance and impact of the various personalities involved. Clurman makes it all hang together logically. He writes with the sure, well-researched touch of a former Time man, and, much to his credit, he takes the book well beyond the mind-boggling business aspects and gives it the added sheen of cultural cross-currents, which ultimately ebbed under the promise of huge profits.

And that's what To The End of Time is really all about - profits, both corporate and personal - from the thousands of dollars Ross was reportedly stashing away in his office (in a briefcase) to his $193 million merger payout (plus salary) and 1.8 million shares of new options, to the millions collected by Time's top executives, to the hundreds of millions that dropped into the laps of Warner executives.

In between, there was the Paramount takeover bid, which of course went nowhere. And then came the irony of Ross easing out the conservative Nicholas J. Nicholas, president of Time, not long after the merger agreement had been signed.

Clurman does a magnificent job delineating the various top-echelon personalities, their in-fighting, the cultural differences (there's not much love lost between the Time and Warner people) and the all-pervasive lust for power and money. All of this is covered with the honeyed words of official memos promising a great future for the two companies in their uneasy union. Ross is today a very sick man. Clurman's picture of him is brutal as well as enlightening.
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Video Age International
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jun 1, 1992
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