Things could get awkward at Sun Valley, the annual gathering of moguls and media barons taking place next month in Idaho.
Shari Redstone and Leslie Moonves, currently locked in a fierce battle for control of CBS that has them trading legal jabs and corporate put-downs on a daily basis, have both been invited to the one-percent confab. By the time Sun Valley takes place in July, Moonves may have succeeded in his plan to dilute the Redstone family’s control of CBS and prevent a shotgun merger with Viacom. If he fails, he could be out of a job.
Viacom CEO and Redstone favorite Bob Bakish’s name does not appear on the list.
Redstone and Moonves aren’t the only big names gassing up the private jets and hitting Idaho for Allen & Co.’s annual media conference. Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon head Jeff Bezos, General Motors CEO Mary Barra, Flickr and Slack founder Stewart Butterfield, and Apple head Tim Cook have all made the grade, according to a copy of the guest list obtained by Variety. Warren Buffett, the “Oracle of Omaha,” who often drives his own station wagon to the event, is another industry giant expected to be rubbing elbows at the “masters of the universe” retreat.
Sun Valley isn’t just a chance for media chiefs to trade their power suits for blue jeans and windbreakers. It’s been a breeding ground of sorts for corporations looking to expand or be acquired. AOL’s disastrous union with Time Warner, Comcast’s purchase of NBC/Universal, and Disney’s deal for Capital Cities/ABC are just a few of the blockbuster mergers that have been hatched at Sun Valley.
Harvey Weinstein, a regular at the investment bank’s conference, did not get an invite this year. He’s currently facing rape charges in New York after allegations emerged that he had harassed and assaulted dozens of women. However, Charlie Rose, the CBS and PBS host who also faced multiple allegations of harassment, is on the list. Tom Brokaw, who has also been accused of harassment, is another invitee. Weinstein has said any encounters were consensual, Rose has apologized for “inappropriate behavior,” and Brokaw has denied the allegations.
Jeff Bewkes, currently hoping the justice department loses its bid to block Time Warner’s sale to AT&T, is on the guest list. He joins AT&T chief Randall Stephenson, the potential future boss of his media company, among the invited.
Rupert Murdoch and sons Lachlan and James have once again made the cut. Like Bewkes, their empires are about to be absorbed into even larger conglomerates, either by Disney or Comcast, both of which are jockeying for the right to own most of 21st Century Fox. Both Comcast chairman Brian Roberts and Walt Disney Company chairman Bob Iger are expected to attend.
Other notable invitees include Nike founder Phil Knight, Netflix founder Reed Hastings and chief content officer Ted Sarandos, Peter Chernin, Liberty Global CEO Mike Fries, NBA commissioner Adam Silver, Softbank founder Masayoshi Son,Wasserman Chairman and Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee Chairman Casey Wasserman, and University of Chicago President Robert Zimmer.
Most press is kept behind rope lines, but a few high-profile members of the media are allowed inside the secretive gathering to see and often moderate panels on topics ranging from politics to healthcare to higher education. This year’s guest list includes CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Van Jones, CNBC’s Becky Quick and Andrew Ross Sorkin, CBS’s Gayle King, and the New York Times’ Thomas Friedman. Graydon Carter, the former Vanity Fair chief and another Sun Valley staple, was not included on this year’s list. Radhika Jones, his replacement at the magazine, was not included among the expected attendees.
Producer Brian Grazer, ICM super-agent Chris Silbermann, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Candice Bergen, MPAA chairman Charles Rivkin, “Breaking Bad” creator Vince Gilligan, and CAA co-chairman Bryan Lourd are Hollywood figures who may hit the ski resort for what has been dubbed summer camp for billionaires.
Guests aren’t just culled from the executive suites. There are several people who represent the worlds of politics and advocacy, among them Environmental Defense Fund President Fred Krupp, diplomat Martin Indyk, Cleveland Clinic CEO Toby Cosgrove, NYPD Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence & Counterterrorism John Miller, and Smart Approaches to Marijuana Co-Founder Kevin Sabet.
Being on the guest list doesn’t necessarily mean a mogul or media icon will attend. Jerry Seinfeld, for instance, was once featured on the round-up of invitees but never actually showed up.