Here Comes A Brawl For Power At News Corp.


News Corp.’s executive ranks are brimming with brawling Rupert Murdoch wannabes.

To take advantage of that kind of energy, departing COO Peter Chernin set it up so that in each of the company’s divisions, there were always two of these bruiser executives competing for his attention.

Peter would guide the company’s direction by playing referee.

Know what happens when a boxing referee slips between the ropes and out of the ring in the middle of the match?

A hint: The brawlers don’t suddenly stop throwing punches. Fact is, it’s about to get a lot bloodier at News Corp as executives compete for power in a sudden vacuum.

“The hand-to-hand combat will make the fighting in the hills of Afghanistan look tame,” says one industry insider.

A News Corp. insider helped us go over the combatants and the scuttlebutt surrounding them:

  • Fox News boss Roger Ailes “would kill anybody” says our source. “He’s the Dick Cheney of News Corp.” In the past, he’s said if he were younger he would want to take on Hollywood. But he’s happy printing money where he is.
  • Co-chairman-CEO of Fox Filmed Entertainment Jim Gianopulos is a “street fighter, ruthless.” He’s “Rupert’s kind of guy. He runs through walls.” He’s probably News Corp’s top business guy in films. He doesn’t care about TV.
  • President, Entertainment for the Fox Broadcasting Company Peter Liguori will probably be the odd man out.
  • Dana Waldman, co-president 20th Century Fox Television, is “shrewd and tough in creative.”
  • Chair of Fox Sports David Hill is a long-time Rupert soldier. But the old Aussie probably won’t end up doing anything new.
  • Rupert’s son James Murdoch reminds people of his dad, says our source. He asks good questions, has no ego (well, there’s one difference), and is a great listener. “He has no pretensions.” Because of the obvious nepotism, people questioned his merit when he took over Sky in Europe, but the internal consensus is that he did a good job there. “He did Sky and now he’s learning the rest of the world. You have to respect that.”
  • Rupert’s other son, Lachlan, is not considered a player, however. A “doofus.” He’s a “great guy to go drinking with,” but when he went up against Roger Ailes in a few political battles early in his career, “Roger tried to kill him. It was like Trevor Berbick versus Mike Tyson.”
  • Watch Rupert Murdoch’s wife Wendi when Rupe goes off to that big newsroom in the sky, but not yet, says our insider. She’s still enjoying going to parties and travelling all over the world for now. But “make no mistake, she’s ambitious.”
  • MySpace CEO Chris Dewolfe’s not to be underestimated, but “the bloom is off the rose.” Rupert doesn’t like two things: Getting beat and seeing execs in the press. Facebook is beating MySpace and profiles and interviews are everywhere all the time. He went to Davos this year. A bigger role in operations is not in the cards.