Jamie Johnson (filmmaker)

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Jamie Johnson
James Wittenborn Johnson

1979 (age 42–43)
EducationPingry School
New York University (B.A., 2003)
OccupationFilmmaker, socialite, journalist, fashion designer

James Wittenborn Johnson (born 1979) is an American heir, filmmaker, and socialite. He is a great-grandson of Robert Wood Johnson I (co-founder of Johnson & Johnson). He has also worked as a journalist and as a fashion designer.

Early life[edit]

Jamie Johnson was born in 1979 to Johnson & Johnson heir James Loring Johnson, son of John Seward Johnson I,[1][2] and Gretchen Wittenborn Johnson, sister of screenwriter and novelist Dirk Wittenborn.[3] Johnson grew up with his four older sisters and a brother on a New Jersey estate.[4][5] The family also had residences in East Hampton, New York and Jupiter Island, Florida.[6][7]

He graduated from Pingry School, a preparatory school in Martinsville, New Jersey.[4][8] He graduated with a B.A. from the Gallatin School at New York University in 2003,[9] where he studied Medieval history,[10] American history,[11] and filmmaking.[12][13]



In 2003, his documentary film Born Rich premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.[4] It discussed his experience, as well as the experiences of ten other young heirs, of growing up with inherited wealth.[14][15] There were sold-out screenings of the film in New York City for weeks.[16] The film was broadcast on television by HBO, as part of its America Undercover series.[4][17] Johnson received two Emmy Award nominations for the film, in 2004: Outstanding Directing for Nonfiction Programming, and Outstanding Nonfiction Special; with Johnson receiving the latter nomination as a producer.[18]

In 2006, Johnson's second film, The One Percent, premiered at the TriBeCa Film Festival. The documentary examines the system that allows a growing wealth gap in America, focusing on the one percent of Americans who control 40 percent of the country's wealth.[19][20] The film featured Robert Reich, Bill Gates Sr., Milton Friedman, and many others coming from various socioeconomic strata, including residents of Chicago's Cabrini–Green housing project and Hurricane Katrina victims.[19][21] The film premiered on television on HBO's Cinemax in 2008.[21]

Television appearances and cameo roles[edit]

In 2003, Johnson was interviewed on The Oprah Winfrey Show about Born Rich in a namesake episode that also featured Paris Hilton and Nicky Hilton.[22] He was also interviewed about the documentary on Paula Zahn Now on CNN and CNN Sunday Morning before the film's television debut on HBO.[23][24] In 2004, he was interviewed about the film on 60 Minutes on Australia's Channel 9.[25]

In 2006, he was on Oprah discussing The One Percent in an episode on "Class in America", along with Nicole Buffett, who was in the film.[26] Warren Buffett's disowning of Nicole shortly after the interview garnered media attention and was included in the HBO version of documentary.[27][28] In 2008, Johnson was interviewed about the film on The Early Show on CBS on the day of the film's television debut on HBO.[29]

Johnson was on Oprah in 2009 discussing how the recession affects rich families[30] in an episode about the declining American middle class.[31] The wealth gap widened in the Great Recession that occurred after the 2006 episode on social class,[31] where Johnson stated that historians always list a growing wealth gap among the reasons for the decline of great civilizations.[26] In 2013, Johnson commented on meritocracy in America on All In with Chris Hayes on MSNBC on the day Prince George of Cambridge was born.[32]

In 2011, he had a cameo role as himself on Gossip Girl.[33][34] In 2012, he had a cameo role as Julie's suitor in Arbitrage.[35]


From 2008 to 2011, Johnson wrote an online weekly column for Vanity Fair titled "The One Percent" on various perspectives, practices, and issues of the wealthy.[36][37] He wrote an article titled "The One Percent" for The Huffington Post in 2008.[38] In 2014, he wrote for The New York Times about a White House summit for 100 young philanthropists and heirs to billionaire family fortunes where he was an invitee.[39]


In 2010, Johnson launched a high-end fashion collection called Black Sweater.[40] The clothing line was launched at Bergdorf Goodman in 2011.[41][42] He started by making garments for friends and family after friends commented on custom clothing he had designed for himself.[43]


Year Title Role Notes
2003 Born Rich Director, co-producer
2006 The One Percent Director, co-producer
2011 Gossip Girl Cameo as himself[33][34] Season 5, Episode 3 - "The Jewel of Denial"
2012 Arbitrage Cameo as Julie's suitor[35]


  1. ^ "Jamie Johnson". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2016-09-18.
  2. ^ Serwer, Andy (2003-11-24). "Too Young, Too Rich? The problem of inherited wealth, seen through the camera of an heir". Fortune. Retrieved 2016-09-20.
  3. ^ Gurley, George (2007-08-20). "Fierce People". The New York Observer. Retrieved 2016-09-28.
  4. ^ a b c d Chaplin, Julia (2003-10-12). "Biting the Silver Spoon That Feeds Him, on Film". New York Times. Retrieved 2013-05-28.
  5. ^ Iredale, Jessica (2011-02-17). "Boy's Night Out: Jamie Johnson". WWD. New York, NY: Fairchild Publishing LLC. Retrieved 2016-09-19.
  6. ^ Wittenborn, Dirk (2012-10-07). "20 Rooms and a Couple of Friendly Ghosts". New York Magazine. Retrieved 2017-05-04.
  7. ^ Merriman, Serena (2011-03-25). "Boys Club". Vogue Italia. Condé Nast. Retrieved 2017-05-04.
  8. ^ Bragg, Susannnah (2003-12-01). "Johnson '98 Directs HBO Documentary". The Pingry Record. Vol. 130, no. 3. The Pingry School. Archived from the original on 2004-12-10. Retrieved 2016-11-10.
  9. ^ Greller, Ken. (2012-12-10). Friday’s Gallatin Arts Panel Was The Most Gallatin Thing Ever. NYU Local. Retrieved 2016-10-19; "Celebrating the Arts at Gallatin: An Alumni Symposium". NYU Gallatin Events Calendar. New York University. 2012-12-07. Archived from the original on 2016-10-19. Retrieved 2016-10-24.
  10. ^ Thompson, Kevin D. (2003-10-31). "'Born Rich': Lifestyles of the rich and aimless" (PDF). The Laredo Morning Times. Hearst Corporation. Cox News Service. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-10-06. Retrieved 2016-09-18.
  11. ^ Vachon, Dana (March 2008). "Why Jamie Johnson turned his camera on the rich and powerful". Men's Vogue. New York, N.Y.: CondéNet. Archived from the original on 2008-09-17. Retrieved 2016-09-28.
  12. ^ "Speakers Biographies for the 2011 Summit" (PDF). Nexus Global Youth Summit. Washington, D.C. p. 16. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-10-06. Retrieved 2016-09-18.
  13. ^ "Johnson & Johnson heir can release film, judge says". Arizona Daily Sun. Associated Press. 2002-10-22. Retrieved 2016-10-22.
  14. ^ "'Born Rich'". Los Angeles Times. 2003-10-27. Retrieved 2016-09-20.
  15. ^ Johnson, Jamie (2005-06-15). "Jamie Johnson: Fable of Fortune". The Moth. Retrieved 2013-05-28.
  16. ^ Cash, William (2003-11-07). "The Rich Kids Are Different; When 23-Year-Old Billionheir Jamie Johnson Made a Film about His Superrich Set, New York Society Was Divided. Ostracised by the Bluebloods, Celebrated by the Media, Manhattan's Most Scandalous Scion Gives His First British Interview to William Cash". The Evening Standard. London. Archived from the original on 2016-09-23. Retrieved 2016-09-20.
  17. ^ Wolfe, Alexandra (2003-10-06). "Born Rich Rag". The New York Observer. Retrieved 2016-09-19.
  18. ^ "Jamie Johnson". Emmys.com. Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved 2017-09-09.
  19. ^ a b Rappaport, Julia (2008-08-21). "Living in the Top One Per Cent is Subject of Independent Film". The Vineyard Gazette. Edgartown, MA. Retrieved 2016-09-21.
  20. ^ "HBO: The One Percent: Synopsis". HBO. Retrieved 2016-09-21.
  21. ^ a b Rose, Lacey (2008-02-20). "Q&A: Jamie Johnson On "The One Percent" (Part 1)". Forbes. Retrieved 2016-09-21.
  22. ^ "Born Rich: Inside the Lives Of". The Oprah Winfrey Show. Chicago, IL: Harpo Productions, Inc. 2003-10-13. Archived from the original on 2007-12-04. Retrieved 2016-09-30.
  23. ^ "PAULA ZAHN NOW". CNN.com - Transcripts. 2003-10-23. Retrieved 2016-10-19.
  24. ^ "CNN SUNDAY MORNING: Interview With Jamie Johnson". CNN.com - Transcripts. 2003-10-26. Retrieved 2016-10-19.
  25. ^ "Transcript: Poor little rich kids". 60 Minutes Online. Ninemsn. 2004-06-20. Archived from the original on 2005-07-16. Retrieved 2017-07-23.
  26. ^ a b "Class in America". The Oprah Winfrey Show. Chicago, IL: Harpo Productions, Inc. 2006-04-21. Retrieved 2016-09-03.
  27. ^ Goodman, Leah McGrath (2008-12-11). "The Billionaire's Black Sheep". Marie Claire. New York, N.Y.: Hearst Communications. Retrieved 2016-09-18.
  28. ^ "Eat The Press: Warren Buffett Has No Granddaughter (Now That She Dished About Him In A Movie)". The Huffington Post. 2006-09-07. Retrieved 2016-09-22.
  29. ^ "Johnson Heir Debuts Film". CBS News. 2008-02-21. Retrieved 2016-10-19.
  30. ^ "Shifting Social Classes in America: How the Recession Affects Rich People". The Oprah Winfrey Show. Chicago, IL: Harpo Productions, Inc. 2009-05-22. pp. 11–13. Archived from the original on 2012-09-28. Retrieved 2016-09-18.
  31. ^ a b "Shifting Social Classes in America". The Oprah Winfrey Show. Chicago, IL: Harpo Productions, Inc. 2009-05-22. Retrieved 2016-10-24.
  32. ^ "All In With Chris Hayes MSNBC July 22, 2013 5:00pm-6:01pm PDT". All In with Chris Hayes. 2013-07-22. Event occurs at 5:54pm. MSNBC. Retrieved 2016-10-19.
  33. ^ a b "The Jewel of Denial". Gossip Girl. Season 5. Episode 3. 2011-10-10. The CW.
  34. ^ a b Lombardi, Jasmine (2011-10-11). "Spotted: Chris Benz (and others!) on the small screen". Avenue Magazine. New York, N.Y.: Manhattan Media. Retrieved 2016-09-29.
  35. ^ a b "Jamie Johnson - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2016-09-20.
  36. ^ "The One Percent". Vanity Fair. Archived from the original on 2014-10-18. Retrieved 2016-09-19.
  37. ^ "Jamie Johnson". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 2016-09-18.
  38. ^ Johnson, Jamie (2008-02-19). "The One Percent". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2016-09-18.
  39. ^ Johnson, Jamie (2014-04-20). "Including the Young and the Rich: White House Hosts 'Next Generation' Young and Rich". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-09-18.
  40. ^ Holt, Emily (2010-02-19). "Heir Line: Jamie Johnson's Fashion Collection". WWD. New York, N.Y.: Fairchild Publishing LLC. Retrieved 2016-09-18.
  41. ^ Heyman, Marshall (2011-03-25). "Yarn of the Black Sweater". The Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company. Retrieved 2016-09-18.
  42. ^ Prince, Daisy (2011-03-29). "Charles Rockefeller and Hayley Bloomingdale Brave the Hail for Jamie Johnson's Sweater Song". The New York Observer. Retrieved 2016-09-18.
  43. ^ Tadini, Luigi (2011-05-01). "PYTs: Little Black Sweater". Avenue Magazine. Vol. 35, no. 5. Manhattan Media. p. 30. Retrieved 2016-09-29 – via issuu.

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