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$18M? REALLY?

John Amato’s exit from Billboard/The Hollywood Reporter marks the end of a checkered chapter in the Bible’s bumpy recent history, but Amato’s notoriety may just be beginning. The CEO’s departure, in the wake of an internal investigation sparked by Maxwell Tani’s bombshell Daily Beast story charging he suppressed sexual-harassment stories, was followed by a new, equally staggering Tani story. The new article alleges that the probe unearthed harassment charges against Amato himself—among other claims of a hostile workplace—and that a separate query is underway around “financial wrongdoing” related to the acquisition of Spinmedia in 2016.

Amato has been telling people he was paid $18m to go away, and that this fat payout was for his equity—a claim that has been confirmed by reliable sources. Where did that equity come from? Why would he have so much? The Bible’s value is said to have sunk below $150m, and it continues to hemorrhage money, losing $20m per year, according to Amato. Is his exit package, as some suspect, more of a payoff?  If so, what for? What big secrets is he keeping? Some Bible insiders speculate that it’s sex-related, based on the stories he tells of his exploits, but why is that worth covering up? Does Tani’s new story mean some or all of those secrets will be coming out anyway? Where’s the smoking gun?

Amato's removal comes at an inopportune moment—just as his learning curve was getting close to a six, a few of his relationships with middle management were beginning to bear fruit and he’d stopped thinking he was super-important. Top players in the biz never gave him any time, as they didn’t consider him trustworthy; his high-profile lifestyle and the perception that he was out of his depth tanked his career long before the internal probe delivered the death blow.

What’s next for the beleaguered Bible, now overseen by Valence Media? And was this new management team brought in by Todd Boehly to put some daylight between him and the BB/THR shitshow? Promises of an “interim leadership plan” don’t inspire much confidence. Where’s Janice? Now that Amato is gone, could she be headed back? Why haven’t they hired Allen Shapiro, who runs dick clark productions—part of the Valence group—for an extra $5-10m a year to fix it for them? Nobody thinks he couldn’t do it as quickly as he could say, “Get me Irving.”

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