Media Bigwigs Wish Rupert Murdoch a Happy 80th Birthday

 Illustration: Brunoillo; Source image: Steve Granitz/Wireimage/Getty Images

As News Corp.’s chairman and chief executive celebrates Friday, the current issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine solicited memories and good wishes from his employees, colleagues and even the occasional frenemy.

Jim Gianopulos
Co-chairman and CEO, Fox Filmed Entertainment

“Rupert’s intrepid leadership, boundless energy and entrepreneurial spirit have been an inspiration throughout the past 20 years. He has consistently encouraged innovation and boldness in both business and filmmaking, and his unwavering support on projects such as Avatar made that and other very ambitious undertakings possible.”



Arnon Milchan
Producer (L.A. Confidential, Fight Club)

“We first had dinner at the Bel-Air Hotel to start the dealmaking, when New Regency moved from Warners to Fox. It was just the three of us — Peter Chernin, Rupert and I. What surprised me was how curious he was — and almost shy, totally unassuming, with zero tolerance for bullshit. The whole Hollywood thing made him uncomfortable. I felt like I was talking to a great journalist, because he was interested in everything. He wanted to know about politics, and everything that was unrelated to the deal. The last thing we talked about was the deal itself. Afterward, I asked Peter, “How do you think it went?” He said, “Rupert didn’t understand half of what you said, but he really liked you!” I said, “I didn’t understand one word he said, but I really liked him!” When we went to closing the deal, he asked me a few personal questions: “Are you healthy? Are you doing well? Do you love art?” It wasn’t about business. It was very personal. And then he said, “OK, let’s go for the ride.” And I went, “Gee, how do you analyze it so fast?” And he said, “I don’t analyze the past, I analyze the future.””


“Once, we went to a bar in SoHo when we had become good friends, and he asked me how I perceived him. I said, “I once made a movie called Falling Down about this guy and he goes out there with a machine gun and says, ‘I just want to go home, and if no one gets in my way, no one gets hurt.’ ” I said to Rupert, “That’s you!” Then I asked, how did he perceive himself? He said, “I am first and foremost a journalist. And all the rest is a defense mechanism.”


Tom Rothman
Co-chairman/CEO, Fox Filmed Entertainment

“During the iciest seas of making Titanic, when Paramount had jumped ship, and everyone, myself included, despaired of our ability to survive, Rupert held fast to the belief that if the movie was great, we would prevail in the end — and his support and nerve never wavered. That has been my consistent experience making films and television product for him for over 16 years — he believes in, and is willing to bet on,  the upside of creative risk.”

Tom Freston
Former president and CEO, Viacom

“I’ve seen Rupert at industry conferences and the like over the years, and have gotten to know him more socially since I left Viacom. Unlike [founders] at other media companies, he remains the driving force at News Corp. to this day — quite an accomplishment. Regardless of what you might think of his political agenda, if you look back now over all the legendary “founding or controlling” media conglomerate leaders, Rupert has easily been the most entrepreneurial, the most global in his vision and the most savvy about his actual business operations and what makes them tick. He actually goes everywhere himself and learns first-hand, a never-ending task in a far-flung empire. Not content to just sit there and obsess over stock price, he seems much more driven by a never waning curiosity and the thrill of innovation, reinvention and travel. He’s the real deal.”

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