Your Japanese manufacturing conglomerate has just paid $6 billion for a Hollywood studio, but you know nothing about the movie business. How do you establish a working rapport with your American executives?
A. Get them a copy of the company newsletter so they can keep abreast of new trends in refrigerator technology.
B. Summon your top American studio executives to Japan for a meeting, have your underlings dismiss their proposal, then keep them waiting for two hours.
C. Ask why they can’t make only profitable movies.
D. All of the above.
Answer: Apparently D, if you’re going to follow either the example of Matsushita, whose management reportedly did A and B, or Sony, which reportedly did C.
You’re an Italian financier who is pursuing an American billionaire to invest in your newly acquired Hollywood studio. He sends a car to pick you up at the airport. On the ride to the meeting, you and your assistant joke in your native language about the billionaire’s physical appearance and ethnic heritage. After you arrive, the billionaire abruptly tells you to beat it. What was your mistake?
A. You didn’t immediately discuss how to convince the billionaire that your studio was a good investment.
B. You should have invited the billionaire to come visit you, so he would have had to take the meeting.
C. You should have scheduled the meeting on neutral turf, so you would have been on equal footing.
D. You should have checked to see if the limousine driver spoke Italian.
Answer: D. As Forbes magazine reported in 1991, then-MGM owner Giancarlo Parretti made such a faux pas with billionaire Marvin Davis.
You’re a former honcho for a Hollywood studio who inadvertently insulted some in your native France during your stormy tenure. After your ouster, you return home and admit that under Hollywood’s sway, you had become “estranged from a certain number of French realities” and that “this led to some blunders on my part, sometimes some mistakes.” What’s your next step?
A. You trade your Armani suit for sackcloth and kneel penitently on the steps of the French Ministry of Culture.
B. You recruit David Puttnam to join you in leading a campaign against the vapidity of American cinema.
C. Ask for $23.8 million in severance pay.
D. Express your disdain for all movie stars.
Answer: C, if you’re former Vivendi chief Jean-Marie Messier. In October, according to Associated Press, Messier admitted to a French national commission probing executive compensation that his contract was “very American in size and could shock in France.” -- P.J.K.