Having a powerful name hasn’t hurt Elisabeth Murdoch, but only after she left her father’s empire to launch her independent TV production venture, Shine, has she really come into her own.
Over the past couple of years, Shine has emerged as one of the most aggressively expansionist players in the U.K.’s flourishing indie sector. This February it leaped over the Pond with the $125 million acquisition of production shingle Reveille from NBC Entertainment topper Ben Silverman and relaunched its distribution arm as ShineReveille Intl.
What’s more, Shine and New Regency just recently launched the co-venture Shine Pictures, which Murdoch will oversee with New Regency co-chairs Bob Harper and Hutch Parker and will rival U.K.-based Working Title for sheer production muscle.
Such snappy dealmaking has catapaulted the eldest child from Rupert Murdoch’s second marriage back into the spotlight after a period when she seemed content with a lower profile.
Australian-born, American-educated and now firmly settled in Britain, the 39-year-old Murdoch is even being talked up as a contender, alongside younger brothers James and Lachlan, for the oft-debated News Corp. succession. But for now she’s got an empire of her own to build.
Having bought and sold a couple of U.S. TV stations with her father’s backing in the mid-’90s, she came to Britain to serve as second-in-command at News Corp.’s satcaster BSkyB under two notoriously tough bosses, first Sam Chisholm and then Tony Ball. When she quit in 2000 to set up Shine, it seemed like a conscious decision to step off the News Corp. fast track.
Then in late 2006, Murdoch returned to the major leagues with an audacious $130 million triple deal to acquire prestigious U.K. production boutiques Kudos (whose co-chiefs will run Shine Pics on a daily basis), Princess and Firefly. She retained the management teams of all three outfits, transforming Shine into one of Blighty’s most formidable “super-indies.”
The addition of Reveille and Shine Pics, again with the existing management in place, created a trans-Atlantic force. Murdoch has proved she can buy — and persuade talented producers to buy into her vision. Now she’s well on the way to proving she can run the super-indie she has created.
Role model: “My 99-year-old grandmother, Dame Elisabeth Murdoch, for her intellectual curiosity, creativity and vigor.”
Three things in life I can’t do without: “My children, my BlackBerry, my support team.”
What I’m reading now: David Benioff’s “City of Thieves” and William Maxwell’s “They Came Like Swallows.”
Fave leisure activity: “Competing on my horses.”
Career mantra: “Aim higher, do more.”