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Shooting Gallery fires staff by e-mail


June 27, 2001

THE EFFICIENTLY worded message told workers: “We regret to inform you that your employment with Shooting Gallery and/or Gun For Hire is terminated effective immediately. Although we value your contribution to the company, its dire financial condition has dictated such a result. You will be paid up to and including today on the regular pay period.”

The memo confirmed workers’ worst fears, following Friday’s vaguely worded announcement from Shooting Gallery founder and CEO Larry Meistrich to the staff that said that while they weren’t laid off, there was no money to pay them. Shooting Gallery’s parent company, publicly traded Canadian technology conglomerate Itemus, earlier last week released a financial statement warning that if it didn’t raise $10 million to $15 million by summer’s end, Shooting Gallery would not be able to service its debt.

While the e-mail asks employees to turn in all company property, a company insider joked that “every last paper clip” had already been whisked away by departing workers. Although the untimely demise of independent-film companies has become sadly commonplace, Shooting Gallery workers say they were doubly stung because prior to the Itemus press release, they were completely unaware of the company’s precarious financial position.

As recently as last week, Shooting Gallery’s Los Angeles-based film development team was still plugging away on scripts and readying films for fall production starts. It’s not clear what will become of the company’s development slate or completed films that were to have been distributed through its deal with Universal Focus.

Last month, Itemus acquired Shooting Gallery and all of its subsidiaries in a stock transaction valued at the time at roughly $35 million plus the assumption of a $3 million, one-year note. According to the company’s financial statements it has invested another $14 million in Shooting Gallery since October.

By Elizabeth Hackett and Andrew Hindes,INSIDE.COM, Copyright © 2001 Powerful Media Inc.


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