David Begelman appears to be considerably better off financially under his new consulting and exclusive production contract with Columbia Pictures than he was when he headed the studio, according to a filing made yesterday with the Securities and Exchange Commission by Columbia Pictures Industries Inc.
Begelman, whom an internal company investigation revealed forged checks and embezzled more than $60,000 from the company and overbilled his expense account by another $23,200, was nevertheless reinstated as studio chief last December by the Columbia Pictures Industries board. But, when the furor following his reinstatement refused to die down, he resigned his position on Feb. 5.
Columbia Pictures Industries, parent to the studio, yesterday made its official filing on the Begelman affair with the SEC and also sent out a letter to shareholders explaining the incident.
To keep the exclusive services of Begelman - who many credit with helping to turn around Columbia's financial position with a series of hits including "Shampoo," "Tommy" and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" - the company has agreed to these contract provisions described in the SEC statement.
Begelman as an independent producer will do a minimum of three feature motion pictures for Columbia over the next three years, and he will receive a producer's fee of 10 percent of the first $3 million of gross receipts for each picture. He will participate in the profits of each picture, measured by a formula. And there is an additional $85,000 per pic ture if he decides not to extend his exclusive independent arrangement with Columbia.
Serving as an independent producer and developer of television properties for Columbia over the next three years, Begelman also will receive a non-refundable advance of $100,000, plus approximately $180,000 per year over the three-year period. There also will be additional fees for serving as an executive producer for any movie of the week, pilot or television series he is responsible for. And he will receive "a participation in profits of each such project measured by a formula."
As president of Columbia Pictures studio and head of the company's television division, Begelman earned $4,500 a week, or $234,000 a year. But with bonuses and perquisites, including free rent on his Beverly Hills home, his total compensation was estimated to be near $400,000 annually.
The company, in its shareholder letter, said "the terms of these independent production arrangements are commensurate with the services to be received by the company and are believed to be competitive in the industry.