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IS MOTTOLA PLANNING
HIS RETURN?

Tommy Mottola has been in L.A. this week holding court, and the word is he’s going to make a new, major, well-funded run at the music sector after producing various Broadway shows over the last decade. Mottola had a hugely successful run at Sony Music from the early ’90s until 2003, four years after Napster changed the game forever.

Under Mottola, Sony was firing on all cylinders throughout the ’90s, churning out hits from Michael Jackson, Celine Dion, Pearl Jam, Gloria Estefan, The Fugees, Rage Against the Machine, Ricky Martin, Michael Bolton, Will Smith and newcomers Destiny’s Child, as well as the massive Titanic and Forrest Gump soundtracks. But the most important star in Mottola’s firmament was Mariah Carey, who married him during her meteoric rise in one of the most opulent Fifth Ave. weddings of all time. That meant Mottola was Carey’s label head, husband, de facto manager and publisher—and he made sure she was earning tens of millions of dollars as she was racking up her string of smashes.

Mottola’s inner circle—Don Ienner, Dave Glew, Mel Ilberman and Michele Anthony—worked alongside the Epic crew: Chairman Glew, President Richard Griffiths and Polly Anthony, a promo exec who had come up through the ranks; she replaced Griffiths as Epic Group president in 1998. The 55th Street Gang, as they were known, was an aggressive group with a take-no-prisoners attitude, as competitive with each other as they were with their rivals at the other majors—and at times an HR nightmare. Their success inspired them to become even more 
aggressive, and the money was getting mind-boggling, with reports that Mottola was making $20m+ a year, while Ienner and Glew were pulling in $10m+ apiece.

During his reign, Mottola lived in baronial splendor; impeccably dressed, he split his time between his lavish quarters in Manhattan and his estates in Upstate New York and Miami. The good times continued until he was fired by Sony Corp. chief Sir Howard Stringer in 2003.

After Sony, Mottola ran the relaunched Casablanca for several years, but he achieved greater success on Broadway, producing such shows as Summer: The Donna Summer Musical and the musical adaptation of Chazz Palminteri's A Bronx Tale. His memoir, Hitmaker, written with Cal Fussman, was published in 2013.

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