University of Southern California

Making it Big: Hollywood and Business Powers Converge at Marshall
Rob Lowe and Tom Barrack, Partners in Miramax Bid, Take Stage at Bovard
September 28, 2010 • by News at Marshall

The USC Marshall School of Business stood at the epicenter of business and entertainment Wednesday night, hosting actor Rob Lowe and USC alumnus and real estate leader Thomas J. Barrack Jr., for "Making Movies, Making Deals and Making it Big."

Speaking before a crowd of USC students, faculty, staff and alumni at Bovard Auditorium, the two covered a range of topics, from their respective careers to their recent bid, in a partnership that includes USC Trustee Ronald Tutor, to acquire Miramax Films.

Moderated by David Belasco, adjunct professor and advisory board member of the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, the event was part of Marshall's John Bendheim Executive in Residence Program. The night also featured a surprise musical performance by singer/guitarist Orianthi, the standout musician selected by the late Michael Jackson for his world tour who became a featured performer in the This is It film.

Movies were the theme of the evening, and Lowe and Barrack shared their motivation behind their bid for the studio with a film library of 700 films, including Pulp Fiction and Good Will Hunting.

"We both have been fascinated with how similar the processes are and how dissimilar the processes are (in making deals in their respective business)," said Lowe, whose acting credits include an award-winning turn in the television show The West Wing along with movies including The Outsiders, St. Elmo's Fire and About Last Night. "When this opportunity came up, it was the perfect time for us to marshal our views about how the entertainment industry can better work out of the chaos that it is in."

Barrack, founder and CEO of Colony Capital, LLC, an international private equity real estate company which has invested $45 billion in assets around the world and with offices in 10 countries, and whose assets includes Jackson's famed Neverland Ranch, added that moving the focus from production to distribution is from where movies’ big profits will come in the future.

"The biggest movie producer and distributor five years from now will be Steve Jobs," he said.

Production will still be a part of Miramax; however, as Barrack said all 14 of the sequels currently in the Miramax pipeline will be produced.

"Where you go bust in this business is thinking to sweeten that film library, you need one more film," Barrack said. "And that movie always moves up from $30 million to $900 million."

From there, Barrack spoke on his broader philosophies on investing and taking risks, which transcended both the professionals and the students in the audience.

"You have to invest at a time when nobody else wants to," Barrack said. "Life in investing is really simple. Investing is always about going someplace where others won't go. If you want to produce extraordinary returns, you have to get out of the ordinary. "

Lowe and Barrack then provided to students insights on their approaches to life that has led to their successes.

"I knew what I wanted to do, but I never had a plan," Lowe said. "There is no plan. All I know is that I said yes whenever anybody asked me to do something. I always said yes. The word yes is so powerful."

"Be bold," Barrack said. "You have to really get out of yourself and take a risk, and if you fail it is that much better. Now is the time to fail, and fail often. You learn in life by failure."

The evening ended with Dean James G. Ellis presenting each speaker with the last pair of vintage oars at USC - used in competition 50 years ago and signed by the current USC women's rowing team - symbolizing the synchrony and strength shown by Lowe and Barrack as they navigate this latest venture.

"Tonight exemplifies what the positive energy and direction of the Marshall community can deliver," Dean Ellis said. "We believe in the power of yes and the power of the Trojan Family, and our two speakers are shining examples to our students of these beliefs. An event like this can only happen at Marshall."

About the USC Marshall School of Business
Consistently ranked among the nation's premier schools, USC Marshall is internationally recognized for its emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation, social responsibility and path-breaking research. Located in the heart of Los Angeles, one of the world's leading business centers and the U.S. gateway to the Pacific Rim, Marshall offers its 5,700-plus undergraduate and graduate students a unique world view and impressive global experiential opportunities. With an alumni community spanning 123 countries, USC Marshall students join a worldwide community of thought leaders who are redefining the way business works.