It's a stunner that Dick Ebersol quit NBC Universal (CMCSA) yesterday. The man who ran NBC Sports for 22 years. The King of the Olympics. The guy who hired Lorne Michaels, who created Saturday Night Live. Ebersol produced SNL during a short stint outside sports entertainment -- and got the girl when actress Susan Saint James hosted the show. They fell in love and married.
None of that drama, though, compares to the tragedy of losing their youngest son, 14-year-old Teddy, in a plane crash in Colorado in 2004. Ebersol himself survived the accident and recovered (if you can call it that) from the loss of his son in part by raising his game: He won the broadcast rights, at a cost of $3.6 billion, for NBC and delivered Sunday Night Football, which has buoyed the troubled broadcast network these past few years.
If you want a sense of Dick Ebersol, the real human being, read my 2006 Fortune profile, "Playing with pain."
"The N.F.L. is more of a guarantee of success than if you got Brad Pitt, George Clooney and Angelina Jolie to do an hour drama series for the network. You can't guarantee that it will be a ratings success."
-- Dick Ebersol, chairman of NBC Universal (GE) Sports, today in a New York Times story about Sunday Night Football's stellar ratings--one of the few bright spots for the woe-begotten broadcast network.
While MOREPatricia Sellers - Oct 6, 2009 12:50 PM ET
I went out to lunch today. Really. Even as you've read this week about the slashing and shrinking inside my company, Time Inc. (TWX), and across the magazine industry (even Conde Nast, the proud, privately-held protector of privilege and perks is axing), I have to eat. I have to schmooze. My job depends upon it.
Allow me to defend the expense-account lunch. Here are my rules of (lunchtime) engagement, honed over MOREPatricia Sellers - Oct 31, 2008 3:56 PM ET
Of all the NBC people working on the Olympic Games, there's no one who has more ego and sweat-equity vested than Dick Ebersol, the chairman of NBC Sports & Olympics. When I spent time with him at the Turin Italy Winter Games two years ago, he left his custom-designed office in the International Broadcast Center (IBC) once in 17 days. For three minutes.
He's a notoriously hands-on TV swashbuckler, as I called MOREJessica Shambora, Writer-Reporter - Aug 20, 2008 12:05 PM ET
"The key to having success like Shaun is that he has the highest expectations of himself. There are certain guys who reach that level and lose their motivation. They're like, 'Ah, I'm number one. I'm over it.' But when you have the mentality like Shaun, you get to that stage and you're like, 'What's next?' What else can I do? How else can I push this?' It doesn't matter that MOREPatricia Sellers - Jun 23, 2008 6:26 PM ET
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