Sherry Lansing Remembers Frank Biondi: "Ultimate Example of a Good Guy Who Finished First"

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From left: Sherry Lansing with Sumner Redstone, Frank Biondi and Barry London in the 1990s.

The "unflappable" former Viacom and HBO chief "made people feel good," adds former Paramount chairman Jonathan Dolgen.

Sherry Lansing remembers her Paramount boss, who "never raised his voice" and battled cancer with "strength and no self-pity," following his Nov. 25 death at age 74.

He had this unique personality that was so calm. I mean, he was calm in the good times, and he was calm in the bad times. He was unflappable. He didn't always agree with you, but he would disagree respectfully. He never raised his voice. I never saw him yell at people. I never met anyone who didn't like him. He was the ultimate example of how good guys can finish first.

I remember one time when a picture didn't work out — don't ask me what it was because I don't remember — we were all devastated, and I went into his office. I told him I was sorry. He said, "What are you apologizing for? It's a good movie. You did the best you can. Next." That's the kind of boss you want, right?

When he was diagnosed with cancer, I thought it must have been a mistake. He was one of the most physically fit human beings. Also one of the most handsome. But, unfortunately, it wasn't a mistake. I called him and he said, "Well, it's not what I would've wanted, but I'm going to battle this and get through it."

He faced cancer the same way he faced everything — with strength and dignity and no self-pity.

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Jonathan Dolgen, former Paramount chairman, also pays tribute to Biondi.

We did our first deal when Frank was at HBO. It was a pay TV output deal — which Frank and I invented — and I stayed friends with him ever since, for 40 years.

He had a very droll sense of humor, very tongue-in-cheek, and he made doing even complicated deals a pleasure. He made people feel good, and, you know, you can get a lot in a deal when you make the other side feel good.

This story first appeared in the Dec. 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.