United Artists closed its $500 million deal with Merrill Lynch late Thursday morning in the wake of news that Goldman Sachs had backed away from committing to a $1 billion fund for MGM. Goldman Sachs was one of five banks considering underwriting the MGM fund. Move was Hollywood’s first brush with the widening credit crunch. However, MGM CEO Harry Sloan said Goldman Sachs’ move — or any delay in the franchise fund — would not impact the movies it has in the works, including “The Hobbit,” a co-production with New Line, or the next installment with the Bond franchise, which it is cofinancing with Sony. “No MGM property will wait for a film (finance) slate,” Sloan said. [More]