Financier Herb Allen hosts moguls
Five-day confab begins TuesdaySUN VALLEY, Idaho -- Major media executives are packing their bathing suits, Blackberrys and iPods this weekend, headed for their version of summer camp -- the annual gathering put together by financier Herb Allen in this exclusive resort.
For five days beginning Tuesday, several hundred media mavens of all stripes will sit through confabs and participate in informal business discussions on topics as far-ranging as Iraq, the economy and the Googling of everything.
Though they wouldn't put it this way, they also get to look and feel important -- and watch veterans like Rupert Murdoch and Sumner Redstone in shorts, sipping cool drinks and looking debonair with their much younger trophy wives.
Last year, the trendy topic was "Content Is King"; this year, Allen & Co. is being predictably tight-lipped about conference subjects and even guest attendees. Best bet: It's still Iraq, the economy and the Googling of everything. Maybe even a deal or two.
Spokesperson Eileen Vegg said the media is allowed informal access to the various moguls but are not allowed to attend any presentation, lecture or meal.
Among those likely to make the trek, besides Murdoch (with son Laclan) and Redstone, are Berkshire Hathaway's Warren Buffett, eBay's Meg Whitman, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts co-founder Henry Kravis, Sirius' Mel Karmazin, Viacom's Philippe Dauman, Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang, Sony's Howard Stringer, former top dog at Time Warner Richard Parsons, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Warner Music's Edgar Bronfman Jr., Universal's Ron Meyer, Disney's Robert Iger and Paramount's Brad Grey.
New media will be repped by such upstarts as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Ning founder and Facebook board member Marc Andreessen, Sling Media's Blake Krikorian and Google's Sergei Brin and Eric Schmidt.
Such Hollywood agents as CAA's Richard Lovett, UTA's Jim Berkus, ICM's Jeff Berg and WMA's Jim Wiatt also generally jet in.
Bill Gates, normally an attendee, may be a no-show this year. He stepped down as CEO of Microsoft last week to turn his attention to his foundation. So while Gates may be looking to gather donations from this gaggle of billionaires, he won't likely be directly involved in any corporate intrigue. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is not expected to attend due to a prior engagement, Reuters reported.
DreamWorks co-founder Jeff Katzenberg, and possibly Steven Spielberg or David Geffen, may appear, with the latter two likely there to talk up DreamWorks' anticipated big deal with India's Reliance conglomerate. It's even conceivable that Reliance topper Anil Ambani, whose company is involved in everything from energy to entertainment, might make the trip for the first time.
Several attendees said they are excited about the idea that one or both of the presidential candidates would arrived on the Sun Valley airport tarmac. John McCain and Barack Obama might want to curry favor with a presumably relaxed group of high-profile billionaires. Former British prime minister Tony Blair showed up last year.
Attendees will surely note the absence of director Sydney Pollack, a good friend of Allen's who attended every year. He died of cancer in May.