Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images
Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images
Given Ashton Kutcher's investments in various tech startups, he might know a thing or two about the way businesses run.
So it should come as little surprise when he turned up on CNBC's Closing Bell Tuesday and not only rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange, but was quizzed by Maria Bartiromo on the current state of show business while plugging his role as late Apple founder Steve Jobs in the forthcoming biopic Jobs.
But what did raise a few eyebrows was what Kutcher had to say about fellow Hollywood star George Clooney's view of the entertainment industry after the latter lashed out at hedge fund manager Daniel Loeb for saying Sony should spin off its entertainment divisions after the recent box office failures of After Earth and White House Down.
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"Well, I think there's a little bit of naivety on both sides. So, (1) the assumption that you can just walk into an artistic business and understand how that works or how the artistic process works, little bit of naivety on that side," Ashton told Bartiromo. "On the other side, having been in the entertainment business for a long time, you know, some of these companies are extremely bloated. And they do spend money on relationships."
Kutcher's comments came after Clooney suggested to Deadline that the Wall Street wiz doesn't quite understand the way the movie industry works.
"Loeb calls himself an activist investor and I would call him a carpetbagger, and one who is trying to spread a climate of fear that pushes studios to want to make only tent poles," said the actor-director, whose upcoming drama The Monuments Men is being released by Sony (of which Loeb's Third Point fund is a major investor).
Clooney later added: "I am no apologist for the studios, but these people know what they are doing. If you look at the industry track record, this business has made a lot of money. It creates a lot of jobs and is still one of the largest exporters in the world."
When asked by Bartiromo how he feels about that view considering the entrepreneurial genius he plays on the big screen was known not to put shareholders first in his quest for innovation, the Two and a Half Men star seemed to agree with Clooney that "some of the processes around the creative process aren't understood."
"Steve Jobs is an example of that, right," continued Kutcher. "There are times when your R&D and your drive and your spin towards innovation come up with nothing. And then there are times when that is the very vitality of your company."
But he ultimately took a middle road in the debate.
"I wouldn't necessarily say that George Clooney or whoever is speaking on behalf of the studios is necessarily 100 percent right. And I wouldn't, at the same time wouldn't say that Dan Loeb's position is [right]," he added. " Now, that being said, Dan Loeb is responsible to a company and is responsible to the efficiencies of the company."
Kutcher concluded by defending the way films are made from the likes of Loeb and other critics, noting "there's a value in the art and creative process as well."