Johnnie L. Roberts

Out Of The Box

The top executives at ABC had flown out to Aspen to meet with their boss, Disney CEO Michael Eisner. A key item on the agenda: reviewing their plans for the network in the world of new media.

Cable's Quiet Mogul

Brian Roberts began tagging along with his father on Saturdays to the family cable-television business, Comcast Inc., when he was 8, almost 32 years ago. But he didn't fully grasp cable's powerful appeal until many years later when his dad, Ralph, packed him off to help run the Comcast system in Flint, Mich.

The Rap On Rap

HERE'S A TALE OF ONE RECORD label. When Def Jam was founded 15 years ago, rap was an inventive new sound from black urban America. To the captains of the music industry, it was an inner-city fad with limited appeal--but just in case, they would keep an eye on it by buying chunks of the brassy production house.

America In The Balance

Day two of the November trial brought promising news. On a pay phone just outside a federal courtroom in New York, lawyers for PolyGram called Alain Levy, CEO of the global entertainment empire.

Can Mgm Roar Again?

IT WAS EARLY ON OCT. 13. MGM/UA'S top bosses were preoccupied with plans to sell a chunk of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc., the moribund studio's parent, to the public.

Grabbing At A Dead Star

RAP STAR TUPAC SHAKUR'S ASHES had hardly cooled before the gold rush began. Now, almost a year after his death, his mother is defending the estate from an old lover who turned up to prove he's Topaz's father.

Hit The Eject Button

AMONG ARGENTINES, THE late First Lady Eva Peron stirred heated emotions. Now the marketing of ""Evita,'' Hollywood's video-bound take on her life, is stoking long-simmering tensions in the U.S. home-video business.

Rupert's Team

Rupert Murdoch wears many hats: billionaire, media baron, TV and cable impresario. Now he's building a global sports empire - making deals at a feverish pace and, as is his wont, paying top dollar for the jewels that catch his eye.

Farewell, Pretoria

WHEN PEPSI RETURNED TO POST-partheid South Africa, it arrived pop diva Whitney Houston. late 1994, Pepsi cosponsored her charity tour. But the bigger news, which Pepsi Co gleefully trumpeted, was that Houston was a new ally in its global cola wars with Coca-Cola; she had invested in a new venture to reintroduce Pepsi to South Africa.

The Fair-Haired Banker

THE SIGHT OF THE DUO STARTLED even the business elite who power-lunch daily at New York's 21 Club. There, two weeks ago, at his usual conspicuous table, sat Felix Rohatyn, the illustrious rainmaker of the famed Wall Street investment-banking firm Lazard Freres.

Digital Divide

DO BELIEVE THE HYPE! WHEN IT comes to digital television, the revolutionary new offering now on the communications horizon, the picture on the screen doesn't lie.

Music, Money, Murder

IN BUSINESS, THE BEAT tends to go on no matter what. Consider the music industry, especially the increasingly bloody rap subgenre known as gangsta. When superstar Tupac Shakur was killed in September, Arista Records was zeroing in on a $75 million joint-venture deal with Sean (Puffy) Combs, the producing whiz behind New York-based Bad Boy Entertainment.

Corner-Office Intrigue

A GLAMOROUS BUSINESS STARTS TO teeter. A legendary boss battles to keep power after two decades at the top. Household names threaten to defect. Meanwhile, a romance in the executive suite makes tabloid headlines.

Rupert's Death Star

LAST MONTH RUPERT MURDOCH'S Twentieth Century Fox studio re-released "Star Wars," the intergalactic action-adventure film. And last week Murdoch did a little Darth Vader act of his own.

Field Marshal

TED FIELD GETS EMOTIONAL remembering it now, that quiet moment less than a year ago. Field, the entertainment mogul and scion of Chicago's Marshall Field retailing fortune, was in his office high above Wilshire Boulevard in West Los Angeles.

Pitsville, U.S.A.

IT WAS THE NIGHT OF THE MIKE Tyson-Evander Holyfield showdown. A hip crowd had gathered at the Beverly Hills mansion of record mogul Andre Harrell for a fight party: the kind of affair that he calls ""ghetto fabulous,'' an edgy mix of black attitude with upscale white richesse.

Villain Or Victim?

EVEN JOHN LE CARRE MIGHT BE hard pressed to craft such an exquisite caper as the one now ensnarling Rupert Murdoch. At dawn two Sundays ago, in a pocket of Jerusalem packed with high-tech companies, a small army of Israeli tax agents stormed a remote but pivotal outpost of the media baron's global empire.

Buyers Beware

A GIVEAWAY WAS THE AIR CONDItioner, perspiring outside the front door. The sleuth who noticed it, a former FBI agent employed by Hollywood, suspected that video pirates were at work inside.

Puffy's Piece Of The Pie

LITTLE RICHARD. STEVIE WONDER. Whitney Houston. The names of African-American superstars come easily to mind. But the list of black music-business titans is sadly short: it pretty much starts and ends with Berry Gordy Jr., Motown founder.

Blood On The Record Biz

THE NEWS STORY didn't remotely concern rap music. Last Thursday, as the gangsta-rap star Tupac Shakur lay dying in a Las Vegas hospital, The New York Times ran a front-page piece on political fund raising in Hollywood.

The Disc Wars

SILVERY, WAFER-THIN AND five inches wide, it could pass for a music CD. But this is no ordinary compact disc. To hear its most ardent promoters, it is almost magical, even transcendent.

Time For A Tuneup

FOR PURE STAR POWER, THE SCENE was hard to beat. On a ballroom stage at Disney World recently, ABC News paraded its most prized trophies before its new bosses at the Walt Disney Co., Michael Eisner and Michael Ovitz, and a gathering of local TV-station owners.

Playing For Time

WHEN TIME WARNER CEO GERALD Levin tapped Richard Parsons as president in late 1994, it seemed like an odd choice. A protege of the late Nelson Rockefeller, Parsons had been a senior public servant, a lawyer to blue bloods, a bank CEO-but never a show-business executive.

Ted, You Ignorant Slut!

FOR YEARS FORMER WALT Disney Co. studio chief Jeffrey Katzenberg had occasional run-ins with his boss, CEO Michael Eisner. Among other things, the ambitious Katzenberg coveted the No. 2 job at Disney.

Trials Of A Black Mogul

WAITING TO EXHALE," THE RECENT hit film about the love trials of four middle-class black women, bore all the marks of Hollywood. The movie, a Christmas release that opened on 1,253 screens nationwide, was based on a hot novelist's best seller and featured a star-studded cast (Whitney Houston and Angela Bassett) and a marvelous soundtrack (produced by hitmaker Babyface).

The Friendly Giant

FOR TIME WARNER, IT WAS a sweet prelude to Valentine's Day. Investors boosted the firm's shares by $2 after it reported stunning fourth-quarter profits. Word circulated of settlement talks in Time Warner's tiff with its erstwhile partner, U S West.