Media Bigwigs Wish Rupert Murdoch a Happy 80th Birthday
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.
The philanthropist’s late husband, Marvin, owned Fox from 1981-84
“At the time, Marvin was partnered with Marc Rich, who wanted to sell his half of the studio, so he sold his half to Rupert. The studio had come with a lot of real estate, like Pebble Beach and Aspen, and Marvin kept that. Then Rupert wanted to buy Marvin’s half of the studio and it went back-and-forth, back-and-forth. Rupert really wanted it. He seemed like a lovely man. Finally, Marvin sold it to him, but not the real estate. I don’t know why. I wish he hadn’t. It’s great to own a studio.”
Honorary Ambassador to Japan, Queensland State Government and a trainee journalist at Murdoch’s fledgling The Australian in 1969
“The Australian was then the only progressive newspaper in the country, he’d appointed a liberal editor and reporters such as myself, who had opposed the Vietnam War. The paper was struggling to get itself out across Australia by plane and train, and it was crucial to meet the 8 p.m. deadline. The union knew this and started calling wildcat strikes at 6 p.m. Management then had to pull everyone in, the executives, typists, journalists and even Murdoch himself, to set out the type on the printing presses. I was standing near him in the print room as he muttered to himself, ‘So this is how the left wing treats the one newspaper owner who tries to put out a progressive newspaper.’ I think that was the beginning of his shift to the right. he began cutting back on liberal contributors and replaced the editor.”
President, NASCAR Media Group
“Cheers to Sir Keith Murdoch and Elisabeth Joy Greene, for showing us the world can truly be changed … one child at a time. Happy Birthday, Rupert, and thanks for taking NASCAR on Fox around the world!”
Recently retired from Viacom, where he was Chairman and CEO, MTV Networks Intl.
“I came over to the U.K. in 1988 and Sky launched in January on the Astra satellite. It really struck me how much opposition there was in London to Sky and I was there hearing all sorts of reasons why it would fail, especially from the BBC, who were very lofty in their view that the Sky platform would not work. I can remember being on panels with the BBC and people saying that you couldn’t possibly get television better than the current three channels. It was the first time I saw Murdoch’s perseverance at challenging the conventional and well established. We at MTV felt as though we weren’t alone.”
Filmmaker (Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge)
“I once accompanied Rupert’s son, my friend Lachlan Murdoch, as he sailed his swan class yacht in the famous Sydney to Hobart ocean race. I was little more than ballast, but at the end of the grueling experience, Rupert picked us all up in his super yacht Morning Glory, and we spent many days sailing back to the Australian mainland across the Tasman Sea. It was the first time I came to know the personal Rupert, and I marveled at the warmth and kindness of Rupert the family man, going ashore on adventures, or captaining one of the rubber dinghies to flag down an unsuspecting fishing boat to haggle over the price of fresh-caught lobsters and bring them back, cook them on the barbecue, enjoy lunch with everybody, but then discreetly slip away for two or three hours, during which he was presumably the global-empire-ruling Rupert Murdoch that the world knows. He would return a few hours later to play backgammon and charades, and always a late movie into the night. It’s the compelling thing about Rupert: the paradox between the global image of a man who rules an empire by which everyone is somehow affected, and the man and father I have known in my experiences. I’ve never met anyone like him. While his public persona seems to have a preordained perspective on what he is going to say, when you’re with Rupert, you have no idea what his answer or point of view is going to be on anything. It’s always compelling, always surprising and usually ahead of the game. It is this gift of his and excitement about the future — an ability to predict it, understand it and to be constantly moving forward into it — that makes time spent with Rupert exceptional.”