You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Sun Valley Scene: Media, Tech Titans Mix and Mingle in the Mountains

SUN VALLEY, Idaho — Say what you will about the times changing for the entertainment business, some things never do.

The annual Allen & Co. getaway for media and tech moguls at the Sun Valley resort is still the only place you’ll find yourself sitting in an outdoor cafe, deep into a breezy conversation with a C-suite executive when all of a sudden Barry Diller rolls by on a bicycle.

The sizzle around the mogul summer camp hosted by the investment bank is the promise of M&A fission sparked by bringing several hundred movers and shakers together in a bucolic, high-altitude (about 6,000 feet) setting.

The event, now in its 36th year, has been described as a TED Talk writ large, with extraordinary networking and people-watching opportunities thrown in, not to mention recreational outings that take advantage of Idaho’s stunning Sawtooth National Forest and environs.

“You get stimulated. You can’t help yourself,” Diller said of the conference. “So even if you’re a little gaga from time zone changes, this will zap you.”

Diller seemed to be in a wistful mood as he entered the conference sessions early Wednesday. When asked for his thoughts on Disney’s historic acquisition of 21st Century Fox, the former head of 20th Century Fox was candid: “I think it’s sad. Fox was in my life for 10 years. We built the network and it was wonderful. I hate to see it disappear, which I’m afraid it will.”

Shari Redstone echoed Diller’s enthusiasm for the conference and its programming, which ranged from a Q&A with legendary investor John Malone and Home Depot co-founder Kenneth Langone to a session on the Brexit situation to updates on post-IPO Uber from CEO Dara Khosrowshahi and pre-IPO AirBNB from CEO Brian Chesky. Democratic presidential candidate John Hickenlooper also made the rounds.

On Wednesday afternoon, attendees were buzzing about the Malone/Langone Q&A. “It’s always great to hear from guys who are old enough and rich enough to say whatever they want. They don’t care about pissing people off,” said one conference-goer. With Amazon chief Jeff Bezos and Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg in the room, Malone was said to have offered praise for the global platforms built by the FAANG giants.

Redstone, meanwhile, kept mum when asked by reporters about the state of merger talks between the two halves of her family media empire, CBS Corp. and Viacom. But she did chat a bit about her investments through her Advancit Capital banner. She’s very interested in the podcast realm these days and is happy to be a backer of Hernan Lopez’s buzzy podcast network Wondery.

Disney chief Bob Iger arrived in Sun Valley early Wednesday, fresh off of Tuesday’s spectacular premiere for “The Lion King.” His enthusiasm for the cutting-edge A.I. technology used in the movie was palpable. He credited director Jon Favreau with creating something “extremely brilliant.” Iger’s accomplishments of the past year were noted with admiration by many of his CEO peers — and the chatter continues about who might succeed him as Disney boss if he stays on track to step down in 2021.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell took a moment to speak to Variety about the next round of TV rights negotiations coming for the deals that are set to expire in 2022.

“We like the reach model,” he said when asked if the league still favored broadcast distribution for its gridiron activities. But he added that working with Amazon on “Thursday Night Football” games has been enlightening about how to reach different consumers via streaming.

One dark cloud that surfaced amid the clusters of investment bankers and high-finance types was the horrific allegations of sexual abuse of children emerging after the arrest of former money manager Jeffrey Epstein in New York on Sunday. The news was inescapable, even here. “Disgusting,” said one attendee, voicing the sentiments of many.

CNN commentator and social justice activist Van Jones is among the speakers set for Friday. No doubt he will find a receptive audience for his message about the importance of ensuring that all Americans, regardless of race or social status, receive equal treatment under the law.

Popular on Variety

More Biz

  • Barron HiltonBarron Hilton 1990

    Famed Hotelier Barron Hilton Dies at 91

    Barron Hilton, a famed hotelier who helped expand the Hilton Hotels empire and a founding owner of the Chargers NFL football team, has died, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation announced. He was 91. “Today the world of hospitality mourns for one of the greats. Barron Hilton was an incredible family man, business leader and philanthropist. [...]

  • Patrick Whitesell and Ari Emanuel WME

    Endeavor Targets Sept. 27 for Stock Debut, IPO Video Tells Company's Origin Story

    After years of preparation, Endeavor is set to make its formal Wall Street debut on Sept. 27, when its stock will begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Endeavor has targeted Sept. 26 for the final pricing of its shares. The stock will trade publicly the following day. Earlier this week, Endeavor said its [...]

  • Netflix - Apple TV

    Netflix Stock Drops After CEO Acknowledges 'Tough Competition' Coming From Disney, Apple

    Netflix shares fell as much as 7% Friday to a nine-month low, coming after CEO Reed Hastings commented that the November launches of Disney Plus and Apple TV Plus will introduce a “whole new world” of competition. Hastings, speaking at the Royal Television Society conference Friday in Cambridge, England, said, “While we’ve been competing with [...]

  • Charlie Rose Sexual Harassment

    Charlie Rose Sued for Sexual Harassment by Longtime Makeup Artist

    A makeup artist who worked for Charlie Rose for 22 years has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit, accusing the former CBS and PBS host of years of unlawful behavior toward female employees. Gina Riggi alleges that Rose was verbally abusive with her and would often make derogatory comments about her weight. She also alleges that [...]

  • Rob Stringer

    Sony Music Chief Rob Stringer on Sustaining Growth and Recovering From the 'Dark Times'

    The Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference, now in its 28th year, gives top executives at major companies the opportunity to make their case to investors — and the Goldman analysts the opportunity to keep things on the up and up. While the analysts don’t necessarily grill the executives, they don’t lob softball questions either. That was [...]

  • Frank Grillo'Avengers: Endgame' Film Premiere, Arrivals,

    Matt Phelps Tapped as President of Joe Carnahan, Frank Grillo's Warparty

    Frank Grillo and Joe Carnahan’s Warparty productikon banner has appointed Matt Phelps president of the company. Phelps will head the Los Angeles office and be responsible for overseeing all film and television projects. “We searched long and hard to find the right fit for Warparty and felt that Matt embodied everything that we were looking [...]

  • Jack Gilardi, Longtime ICM Partners Agent,

    Jack Gilardi, Longtime ICM Partners Agent, Dies at 88

    Jack Gilardi, a longtime ICM Partners agent who represented such stars as Burt Reynolds, Sylvester Stallone, Jerry Lewis, Charlton Heston and Shirley MacLaine, died Thursday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 88. Gilardi was known for his gentlemanly style, love of the Los Angeles Dodgers and his skill at representing top actors. He [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content