Johnnie L. Roberts

Doing It His Way

MONTHS AFTER VIACOM bought Paramount Communications and Blockbuster Entertainment in 1994, one amused magazine artist depicted chairman Sumner Redstone and CEO Frank Biondi as Beavis and Butt-head.

A Piece Of The Action

Black entrepreneurs are battling for ownership of the lucrative assets they produce for the music business. But will their continued reliance on big record companies -- and persistent violence in parts of the rap world -- stall the dream for some of them Andre Harrell, one of black music's moguls, is a "big Willy," hip-hop lingo for a big-time player in showbiz.

Murdoch Vs. Turner Redux

Software types call it "vaporware." A company announces a new product that may never--or much lat-er--see the light of day. The aim: to spook the market, befuddle rivals or cause customers to hold off buying the other guy's goods.

One More Stab At It

Talk about management style. When Time Warner CEO Gerald Levin sat down Thursday for his usual weekly chat with Michael Fuchs, chief of Warner Music and HBO, Levin said he wanted to talk about his new strategy for the media colossus, say company insiders.

What, Me Worry?

In showbiz, Michael Jackson has excelled as much at the biz as he has dazzled onstage. A decade ago, at his peak, he had the foresight to buy hundreds of songs written by the Beatles.

Time's Uneasy Pieces

No one imagined it would be easy conceiving the globe's biggest media company. But no one realized how tough it was until last Friday. On a rain-drenched day in New York, Time Warner CEO Gerald Levin and Turner chairman Ted Turner announced the latest birth in this fertile season of megamedia deals.

Foxes In The Chicken Coop

These guys are going to be partners? Just last year Ted Turner whined that Time Warner, which owns a large chunk of Turner Broadcasting System, was preventing him from buying a network like CBS.

Now Batting Second

On Friday morning superagent Michael Ovitz prepared for a conference call in his art-filled office at Creative Artists Agency, the legendary talent-supply house.

Kids Will Be Kids

Couch Spuds Had No Reason to expect gripping television when two TV networks--United Paramount Network and the Warner Bros. Network--were launched earlier this year.

The Morning After

Lavish contracts are as much a part of the Hollywood landscape as moviemaking. But maybe someone forgot to inform Edgar Bronfman Jr., whose family-controlled Seagram Co.

King Of The Deal

For Michael Ovitz, it was all too ironic. Five years ago, on Thanksgiving eve, the Japanese were poised for another landing in their so-called invasion of Hollywood.

Rupert's New Road To The Internet

MICHAEL MEYERRupert Murdoch is nothing if not a gambler. He flies against conventional wisdom, and his daring usually pays off. A decade ago Hollywood scoffed when the Australian-born publishing magnate bought a string of television stations and called them a network.

Goliath Goes Hollywood

Long ago, there was the sovereign state of ITT. International Telephone and Telegraph, as the company was formally known, bestrode the globe. It was the very embodiment of the ruthless '60s multinational corporation, a powerful conglomerate that controlled more than 250 companies spanning almost every business and industry.

Changing Channels

ON THE FINAL DAY OF THE 1994 Winter Olympics, aired live on CBS from Lillehammer, Howard Stringer slipped on ice and broke his leg. For the network's to broadcast exec, it was a painful omen of the lame season to come.

Chips Off The Block

FEW WALL STREETERS dispute that Sumner Redstone snared one of the nation's premier companies when he purchased Blockbuster Entertainment last year. In a mere 10 years, thousands of the bright and vast video stores have sprouted nationwide.

Betting The House On Cable

BY MANY MEASURES, LIFE IS good for Time Warner chief Gerald M. Levin. Last week the company and its partner, Toshiba, appeared to win their battle for a new compact-videodisc standard that could displace the home video.