'Godfather,' 'father,' 'architect' of DVD shares credit

LAS VEGAS –The ironies of show business don’t get much better than this.

The DVD Entertainment group gave Warren Lieberfarb the DVD Visionary Award on Thursday — three weeks after he was fired by Warner Home Video. And the event took place during the Consumer Electronics Show, just down the hall at the Bellagio from the site of Warner meetings.

Quincy Jones, Barry Sonnenfeld, competitors Ben Feingold of Columbia TriStar and Bob Chapek of Buena Vista were among those heaping praise on Lieberfarb. They variously called him the “godfather,” “father” and “architect” of DVD.

Whatever the honorific, everyone agreed Lieberfarb made DVD happen. For his part, the notoriously hard-charging ex-exec declined to mix it up with his former employers. Instead, he spread around credit for DVD’s success.

“I may have been the architect, but all of you standing in this room made it happen,” Lieberfarb said. “This caps a decadelong quest that has been the most challenging, agonizing, rewarding period of my life.”

His low-key approach may have been encouraged by unfinished negotiations over his exit agreement.

But Lieberfarb said afterward he was feeling “reflective, even introspective,” a mellow mood deepened by a days-long flood of phone calls, emails and notes from well-wishers. Even his replacement at Warner, James Cardwell, stopped by Thursday to congratulate him.

“I feel great,” Lieberfarb said, dodging questions about his next move. “I think going out one door has the ability to lead to another door opening, so perhaps an exit creates an opportunity.”

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