It seems that the quote I posted yesterday from Variety's print article indicating that the MGM brand would disappear was in fact removed from the website story due to its being inaccurate. In another Variety story today (sub. req'd) laying out some of the questions raised by the deal -- such as the status of MGM's production slate and various producer deals as well as the studio's year-old tenancy, which will now be vacated in a brand-new Century City office tower -- that claim was negated. Instead, it seems that Sony will keep MGM alive, at least for the foreseeable future: "What is known is that MGM and its roaring lion logo will continue to operate as a separate label to produce and distribute roughly three films per year."
Obviously, I think that's great news. I know it seems like a small thing, and certainly most people don't pick movies based on the studio unless it's something like a Pixar film, but I think it's important for Hollywood to remember its heritage even if the "town" and the business are quite different.
Another Variety story today (via Yahoo! no sub req'd) surveys reactions of several Hollywood vets who are saddened by MGM's continued shrinkage but also cognizant that the studio isn't the important institution it was for the first 70-odd years of the 20th Century. One crucial quote relevant to today's film business climate comes from former MGM head Alan Ladd Jr.: "It means for the business that there's one less buyer, but they haven't been that active a buyer in recent years anyway." MGM may not have been a huge buyer, but UA was primarily an acquisitions outlet, particularly of foreign and indie films, and if UA does go away, as expected, that would be a major loss.
But at least "Leo" will remain, and to me that's no small thing. His roar may get nipped into more of a meow, but at least his sleep will be just during some of the movies that follow rather than a permanent one.