Banner flag remains on indie path

When former ABC corporate officers Elton H. Rule and I. Martin Pompadur raised their second Merrill Lynch Fund in 1988, they had the flexibility to do more than just buy cable systems and television stations.

Rule’s business manager was Bill Hayes of Executive Business Management, who represented a number of other people in the business, including Bob Banner and Gary L. Pudney, another former ABC executive.

Hayes, who died last year, came up with the idea of the four television veterans joining forces. The result was Paradigm Entertainment, split 25% each for Banner and Pudney (they shared creative responsibilities) and 50% for Merrill Lynch Media OpportunityPartners, the public limited part-nership formed by Rule and Pom-padur.

Paradigm was going to do a lot of production, and probably distribution as well; but Rule’s death in 1990 changed those ambitious plans.

“When Elton died, I knew then that was the end of Paradigm. We completed production of the Paradigm projects and that was it. It just quietly went away.”

But even when Paradigm deals were being put together and expectations were high, Banner says Bob Banner Associates was never disbanded.

That gives BBA a 35-year-continuous run as an independentproduction company.

BBA was formed when Banner left NBC and moved to CBS to take over “The Garry Moore Show.”Previously, he had been a salaried employee.

It was Bill Hayes who convinced him to form his own company. Hayes told Banner how much money it would take and laid out the potential. Banner wondered: “How can I do it? What if it doesn’t work?”

Hayes countered, as Banner recalls, with, “Well, I know how much money you have, and you should put it all into starting your own company.”

Reflecting on that decision, Banner says Hayes was “ever so right.”

BBA has remained an independent since its formation, shunning offers to go public and to merge with larger production entities.

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