Episode 175 – Michael Nathanson

Former studio head now fights for wild horses of U.S.
By LA Stories Staff Los Angeles
PUBLISHED 5:00 AM PT Mar. 11, 2024

Growing up with a learning disorder, Michael Nathanson says he struggled in school, but knew the importance of hard work. He watched his father work for NBC Sports, and eventually started helping him at NBC as a runner.

Despite his learning difficulties, he managed to get into Ithaca College and landed prestigious internships. A chance meeting with a media executive while working at Wimbledon led to a job on a movie set and his career started taking off. He eventually became the most junior production executive at MGM at the time at just 23 years old.

Nathanson went on to lead two major movie studios before becoming the president and CEO of MGM Studios. “MGM was a studio with a special place in my heart,” he said, “MGM was the temple of movie-making, quite frankly, in its heyday”.

On the latest episode of “LA Stories with Giselle Fernandez,” Nathanson shares how the grueling schedule took a toll on his life. He became addicted to alcohol and hit a point where he decided enough is enough.

He got sober, left his job and started spending more time with his family. But it wasn’t until a health scare that he made a career turn that no one saw coming.

Nathanson is now the CEO and managing director of Rewilding America Now – a nonprofit dedicated to preserving the wild horses of the United States. “I heard this voice that once said to me, say yes to what’s put in front of you instead of thinking about it,” he said, “I had spent so many years, decades doing relatively the same thing that I didn’t feel anybody else thought I could do anything else, quite frankly.”

Nathanson and his team at RAN went to the Dakotas in order to see firsthand the work the organization is doing and capture the journey for a documentary. There he met ranchers and members of the Native American community dedicated to preserving the lives of the wild horses, which are an important part of the biodiversity of the land.

The organization has purchased 400,000 acres of land in the Birch Creek Valley of Idaho in hopes of creating a corridor not just for the horses, but for all native species. For Nathanson, the chance to give back in such a unique and important way has brought new meaning to his life. “It’s all about hope. If we have no hope, we have nothing,” he said, “This has created a lot of hope and there’s proof of the hope coming true.”

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