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Sun Valley: At the Bar with Bewkes and Saban

At the late night bar at the Sun Valley Resort the moguls get loose during the Allen and Company conference. The attendees – corporate titans in Faconnable shirts, well-muscled wives, all wearing badges with their names on them – mingle in the lobby, then pass into the bar. Door to which is guarded by a […]

At the late night bar at the Sun Valley Resort the moguls get loose during the Allen and Company conference.

The attendees – corporate titans in Faconnable shirts, well-muscled wives, all wearing badges with their names on them – mingle in the lobby, then pass into the bar. Door to which is guarded by a couple of very scary looking security guys.

Inside the bar, Google’s Eric Schmidt is in a huddle with AOL’s Tim Armstrong.

Outside the bar, Haim Saban, with wife Cheryl, is holding court with the president of Endemol, Ynon Kreiz, and Mike Fries, the CEO of Liberty Global International, apparently the largest cable distribution network in Europe.

They’re all talking about content versus distribution – when they’re not complaining about Obama.

Which is better? Is it better to own the pipes, or to own the intellectual property? In recent years, content has been on the losing side of the debate.

Most of those here – or at least those I talked to, Terry Semel, for one – are still content believers. And they’re old media believers too. Fries said the cable distribution business is about as solid as anything out there, and he’d bet on that long before betting on new media distribution models.

Tell that to Google cofounder Sergey Brin, who stands a few feet away, or Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, who wears a trademark hoodie, no Faconnable for him. 

The debate goes round and round.  

The conference is a place for these figures to mingle and make alliances. So far no word of any deals, however.

Meanwhile, Day One: Disney’s Bob Iger looks mad, as the news falls that he lost the Celador case on “Millionaire” for $270 million.

Day Two: Disney’s Bob Iger looks pleased, as TheWrap breaks the news that he’s won agreement to sell Miramax to Ron Tutor for $675 million. Hollywood gives, Hollywood takes away.  

In both instances he’s pretty damn buff in a black workout jersey.

Time-Warner’s Jeff Bewkes showed up on Thursday night and bought drinks for all the journalists who’d been herded into a literal pen all day and were allowed to loiter in the lobby at night. (Very sad.)

A good way to make friends, for sure. Bewkes has thoughts about the new Netflix deal with Relativity that could challenge HBO in the pay television window. He said something that had to do with “seeing the whites of their eyes.” But we can’t share more; rules of the bar.

Jeffrey Katzenberg seems to be having nonstop meetings when not in the panels, as is his wont.  We’re wondering what’s on his mind. He is certainly underemployed as the head of DreamWorks Animation, and he went from one huddle to the next at the conference.

Watch that space.