The Mandalay Connection 

Wednesday, Nov 7 2001

Mandalay -- which has had structured official film deals with Sony, Paramount and, finally, Lions Gate -- takes no credit on the videos, and you won‘t find Guber’s name attached to anything.

Sources say the deal falls under Guber‘s Mandalay Sports Entertainment umbrella, which had originally been designed to foster an interest in minor-league baseball and hockey teams. In fact, Francis claims that the whole Mandalay Enterprise was born out of an interest in developing and distributing wrestling videos. Francis maintains that his videos are not about pornography, preferring to term it “reality TV.

”This isn’t porn,“ he proclaims. ”It‘s girls showing their breasts. It’s like European TV.“

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Some Mandalay executives refuse to even acknowledge that Francis has any official link to the company, which has produced such highbrow titles as Enemy at the Gates and The Score. One former senior executive said he had never even heard of Francis. But other insiders allow for the fact that he works hand in hand with the Sports Division.

Francis has in the last month retained the public-relations firm BWR PR to cleanse his image and offer up salient points about the deal with Mandalay.

”I was doing a lot of other stuff,“ he adds. ”I‘ve done comedy videos and children’s videos and animation. We have deals with pop stars. Mantra is pretty diversified.“

Though he personally won‘t discuss the subject, none of this is alien to former Sony Pictures Entertainment chairman Guber. In 1969, after watching a Sony demonstration of its new consumer-video technology at the Beverly Hills Hotel, Guber penned a ground-shaking, 15,000-word Hollywood manifesto about the earliest notions of a video industry. In ”The New BallgameThe Cartridge Revolution,“ Guber argued that new technologies would create a ”great new pornographic market.“

”One can make their own home movies, tapes and films as well as find distribution for them,“ he wrote. ”Thus, home nudies with neighborhood actors and actresses are a certainty.“

Joe Francis wouldn’t be born for another five years. But Guber must have had him in mind in that wild, freewheeling summer of love.

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