GE and Universal: Strange Bedfellows

The LAT reports on the corporate culture syncretism between post-merger General Electric and NBC/Universal. For instance, Stacey Snider had to schlep out to Florida and meet GE middle-management types:

In January, at a management conference for GE executives in Boca Raton, Fla., Universal Pictures Chairwoman Stacey Snider did her best to educate about 650 executives from such far-flung divisions as medical technology, equipment services and plastics. Her “movie business 101” primer, as she calls it, included explaining such Hollywood jargon as “tent-pole movies” and “franchise strategy.”

Meanwhile, on the studio lot, perks are being clipped:

Most of the wariness and friction has emanated from Universal’s back lot, where GE has implemented cost-saving programs and disrupted long-standing business relationships.

In a bid to get cheaper prices for services, GE has instructed the studio to use the company’s “preferred vendors” for camera rentals, film labs, overnight couriers and air travel, among others. Most purchase decisions that had been handled by Universal’s own production managers and line producers now move through an NBC Universal department headed by GE veteran Marcia Haynes, whose most recent job was as an executive in the company’s advanced materials division.

[…]

For the majority of executives, GE has ended company-paid car insurance, car allowances and subsidized gasoline from pumps on the studio’s back lot. It also has restricted business- and first-class travel for many executives and no longer reimburses them for the cost of pay-per-view movies in hotel rooms.

Remember that GE is the same company that, according to Nikki Finke’s recent column, granted retired CEO Jack Welch an $80,000/month Manhattan apartment, access to the corporate jet, and “free toilet paper for life.” But it won’t give junior development executives, who work hard for their $60,000 per year, a discount when they fill up their Mini-Coopers?