Murdoch gets greenlight atop Premiere Power 100

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch has displaced Walt Disney Co. chairman and CEO Michael Eisner in the No. 1 spot of Premiere magazine’s annual Power 100 list, which will be published in the May issue.

The criteria for choosing this year’s list was made on the ability to get a picture made. “Ultimately, the power in Hollywood resides in the ability to get movies made and also get the films they want made,” said Howard Karren, deputy editor of Premiere.

This year’s top-10 are Murdoch, Eisner, Viacom chairman/CEO Sumner Redstone, Seagram CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr., Warner Bros. co-chairmen and CEOs Bob Daly and Terry Semel, filmmaker Steven Spielberg, Walt Disney Studios chairman Joe Roth, News Corp. president/chief operating officer Peter Chernin and Fox Filmed Entertainment chairman/CEO Bill Mechanic, Tom Cruise, and Sony Corp. president and chief operating officer Nobuyuki Idei.

The most glaring omission is MCA’s Frank Biondi, who is mentioned in the item about Bronfman, but not ranked. “In terms of corporate power, we tried to limit ourselves with those that can get pictures made,” Karren said. “The only reason Frank’s counterparts at other studios are there is because they are involved in the filmmaking process. It was not meant to be a statement about his power, but about those who focus on moviemaking themselves.”

The top-ranking agent was ICM’s Jeff Berg who was ranked No. 33. CAA’s Richard Lovett was two spots back at No. 35. The next-highest- ranking agents were CAA’s team of Rick Nicita and Jack Rapke at No. 46, and ICM’s Jim Wiatt at No. 48. WMA’s Arnold Rifkin landed at No. 54; CAA’s Bryan Lourd, Kevin Huvane and David O’Connor, grouped at No. 55; and ICM’s Ed Limato hit No. 56.

“The reason Berg is where he is, is it’s not about the number of clients, it’s in the amount of respect that he generates within the industry,” Karren said, noting that Berg deals with many corporations and “was put on the Oracle board this year. Rifkin is in effect the equivalent of Berg and Lovett. He’s on their level.”

In terms of attorneys, litigator Bert Fields (No. 58) was listed ahead of dealmakers Jake Bloom, Alan Hergott and Melanie Cook (together at No. 67), Barry Hirsch (at No. 86) and Ken Ziffren and Skip Brittenham (at No. 88).

Asked about putting a litigator above attorneys who are negotiating the deals, Karren said: “There is a negative aspect as well. This list (encompasses those who) have the ability to prevent things from happening as well.”

The biggest tumble taken goes to Michael Ovitz, who ranked 100 this year, behind Golden Arches mascot Ronald McDonald, who represents corporate tie-ins.

One of the odder entries this year to the power list is the elusive Stanley Kubrick, who is listed as more powerful than attorney Barry Hirsch and Warner Bros. presidents of worldwide production Lorenzo DiBoneventura and Bill Gerber (who incidentally are deemed less powerful than both Sharon Stone and husband/wife filmmaking team Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall).

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