Frank Biondi

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Frank Biondi
Born
Frank Joseph Biondi Jr.

(1945-01-09)January 9, 1945
DiedNovember 25, 2019(2019-11-25) (aged 74)
Alma materPrinceton University (A.B.)
Harvard Business School (M.B.A.)

Frank Joseph Biondi Jr. (January 9, 1945 – November 25, 2019) was an American businessman and entertainment executive, who held leadership roles at Viacom, Universal Pictures, and HBO.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Biondi was born in New York City, to Virginia Willis and Frank Biondi Sr., and was raised in Livingston, New Jersey.[2] His father was a former executive at Bell Telephone Company. Biondi graduated from Livingston High School in 1964 and was inducted into the school's hall of fame in 1994.[3] He graduated with an A.B. in psychology from Princeton University in 1966 after completing an 81-page long senior thesis titled "The Use of a Biographical Inventory for Junior Executive Recruitment in a Large Retail Firm."[4] He later received a M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.[5]

Career[edit]

In 1968, Biondi got his start as a financial analyst and investment banker on Wall Street for Cogan, Berlind, Weill & Levitt.[1][6] There, he met Clarence B. Jones, who recommended him for a consulting job at TelePrompTer Corporation, one of the largest cable companies at the time.[6] However, TelePrompTer had defrauded its investors by misrepresenting their cash flow.[7][8] In response, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission placed a trade block on their stock for around 100 days, which tanked its valuation.[6] Biondi was let go as a result of corporate restructuring. He later found employment with the nonprofit, Children’s Television Workshop (CTW), who produced Sesame Street and The Electric Company, in 1974.[5][6] After a tumultuous time at TelePrompTer, he cites the relatively "nice, safe" environment of a non-profit as the reason he chose the job at CTW.[1]

Michael J. Fuchs recruited Biondi to HBO in 1978 as head of co-productions.[5] Biondi initially expressed disinterest in joining and rejected their initial offer.[5] He later became the president and CEO in 1983.[5] Fuchs replaced him as HBO CEO the following year.[9]

In 1985, Biondi went on to serve as external vice president for Coca-Cola's entertainment business sector.[10] In 1986, Coca-Cola consolidated its television companies — Columbia Pictures Television, Embassy Communications, and Merv Griffin Enterprises — into Coca-Cola Television, and Biondi was tapped to serve as its CEO.[10] Coca-Cola Television was eventually spun off and sold to TriStar Pictures in 1987.[11] TriStar subsequently renamed itself Columbia Pictures and its founder, Victor Kaufman, continued his role as CEO of the merged company.[11]

Biondi was the president and CEO of Viacom from 1987 to 1996[5] and the chairman and CEO of Universal Pictures from 1996 to 1998.[12]

Afterwards, he co-founded the media and technology focused investment firm WaterView Advisors in 1999.[9]

Biondi was an avid tennis player and helped finance the creation of the Tennis Channel with fellow former Viacom CEOs Philippe Dauman and Thomas E. Dooley in 2001.[13] Together they are known as the "Viacom mafia".[13] At his summer residence in Martha's Vineyard, he was a board member for the Vineyard Family Tennis Foundation.[14]

In the later part of his life, Biondi was a director of RealD, Amgen, Cablevision, Caesars Entertainment Corporation, Hasbro, Yahoo!, Viasat, and Seagate.[15]

Personal life[edit]

Biondi met Carol Oughton while working at the TelePrompTer Corporation.[6] In 1974, the couple wed and together, they had two daughters, Anne Biondi Simonds and Jane Biondi Munna. His son-in-law is film producer Robert Simonds.[16]

Biondi died from bladder cancer at his home in Los Angeles on November 25, 2019. He was 74 years old.[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Frank Biondi Jr., Former Top Executive at HBO, Viacom and Universal Studios, Dies at 74". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 26, 2019.
  2. ^ Auletta, Ken. "Annuals of Communications Redstone's Secret Weapon". Ken Auletta. Archived from the original on June 16, 2011. Retrieved February 24, 2011.
  3. ^ "Alumni Hall of Fame Members". Livingston High School. Retrieved August 5, 2019.
  4. ^ Biondi, Frank Joseph Jr. Princeton University. Department of Psychology (ed.). "The Use of a Biographical Inventory for Junior Executive Recruitment in a Large Retail Firm". Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  5. ^ a b c d e f "Frank Biondi Jr., former head of Viacom and Universal Studios, dies at 74". Los Angeles Times. November 25, 2019. Retrieved November 25, 2019.
  6. ^ a b c d e "Frank Biondi 2000 Oral and Video History". www.cablecenter.org. Retrieved November 27, 2019.
  7. ^ Commission, United States Securities and Exchange (1974). SEC Docket: A Weekly Compilation of Releases from the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Commission.
  8. ^ Belair, Felix Jr. (July 16, 1974). "S.E.C. Aims Action at Teleprompter". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved November 27, 2019.
  9. ^ a b c Littleton, Cynthia (November 25, 2019). "Frank Biondi Jr., Former Viacom and Universal Studios Head, Dies at 74". Variety.
  10. ^ a b Harris, Kathryn (November 25, 1986). "NATION". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 27, 2019.
  11. ^ a b Harris, Kathryn (September 2, 1987). "Coke, Tri-Star Confirm Plans for $3.1-Billion Deal". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 27, 2019.
  12. ^ Barnes, Mike. "Frank Biondi Jr., Former Top Executive at HBO, Viacom and Universal Studios, Dies at 74". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 25, 2019.
  13. ^ a b Lattman, Peter (September 9, 2010). "P.E. in 5th Set With Tennis Channel". DealBook. Retrieved November 25, 2019.
  14. ^ "Respected Media Executive Frank Biondi Jr. Dies". The Vineyard Gazette - Martha's Vineyard News. Retrieved November 27, 2019.
  15. ^ Forbes - Frank Biondi Jr Profile. Retrieved June 14, 2007.
  16. ^ "Robert Simonds Jr., Anne Biondi". The New York Times. September 19, 1999. p. 10.

External links[edit]