Take-Two's Rockstar: Actually A Rock Star (TTWO, ERTS)

The jury’s still’s out as to whether Grand Theft Auto IV’s sales will be enough to help Take-Two Interactive (TTWO) fend off Electronic Arts’ (ERTS) bid, or at least boost the takeout price a few bucks. The WSJ reminds us that the deadline on EA’s tender offer expires Friday, but who cares? That’s just a bit of throat-clearing before the Journal gets down to the business at hand: An entertaining profile of Sam Houser, the 36-year-old auteur behind the GTA franchise.

In case you don’t have time to read the whole thing (but you should), here’s the good stuff:

  • Rockstar is set up as an independent studio at Take-Two, which means Sam and his brother Dan run their own fiefdom. Electronic Arts, which has been wooing them for some time, promises to let them keep the same arrangement.
  • The job pays well: In 2005, Take-Two shelled out $84 million to the Brothers Houser and other executives. The assumption is they’ll be making more if they go to EA.
  • Sam’s beard “stretches to the top of his chest.” (We’ve only got on outdated photo, unfortunately.)
  • Sam screams a lot and may or may not throw things at walls, but says he is trying to get better at controlling his temper.
  • Unnamed people describe Sam has “wielding” a baseball bat in the office. He denies it.
  • There are a bunch of guns around the office. But they’re replicas, Rockstar says.
  • After two Rockstar employees killed themselves last year, the company hired a spiritual healer to walk around the New York office “swinging crystals”.
  • If all of this strikes as you as rather tame by, say, Hollywood standards, you’re right. For an awesome portrait of a real entertainment business enfant terrible, consult this WSJ profile of producer Scott Rudin, who once fired an assistant who brought him the wrong muffin.

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