“Been there. Owned that.” said Mogul-at-large Turner, who was among honorees at first Jules Verne Film Festival in L.A.
By Jeffrey Jolson
HOLLYWOOD, CA (Hollywood Today) 12/10/07 — “I’m not going back into the entertainment industry,” said media mogul and philanthropist Ted Turner for at least the third time in his storied career. It is hard to believe the “Mouth of the South” doesn’t have as much showbiz in his blood as the characters in the old MGM movies he largely built Tuner Entertainment on — at one time or another he owned four film studios, four TV networks and two major sports teams
Yet on Friday night he told Hollywood Today that the entertainment business was over for him. “Been there, owned that,” said the former vice-chairman of Time Warner “But I didn’t leave voluntarily. I got laid off my last job … after green-lighting ‘Lord of the Rings’!” He recounted the various studios he was involved in: “(At times) I had Warner Brothers, MGM/UA, New Line, Hanna Barbera, if you count animated, but it’s a hard way to make money.”
What he did do was lose a reported $2 billion of his paper worth after the AOL merger with Time Warner soon saw the stock value drop like the anchor on his America’s Cup winning sloop. He was booted from his position as vice-chairman of the media giant, but it’s not like he’s getting food stamps now. He is still the largest private landowner in the United States with two million acres, bigger than Delaware and Rhode Island combined.
“No more showbiz, I’m in the restaurant business now,” the CNN founder said, referring to Ted’s Montana Grill chain, which specializes in bison burgers. “I wanted to make money the easy way.” Maybe he will make a buck in the buffalo biz as he is as vertically integrated as he was in entertainment. All that land supports the world’s largest private bison herd with more than 40,000 head.
He’ll need to serve up a hefty helping of bison steaks to keep up with his philanthropy. The ’91 Time Magazine Man of the Year donated a fabled $1 billion to the United Nations and his Tuner Foundation continues to aggressively support environmental issues under the direction of his daughter.
The young Turner noted “My Dad was a visionary in TV helped educate a generation in ecological values. The Foundation stated in 1991 and this year in California alone we will be funding 21 projects from restoring wetlands and forests to education grants.”
Which brings us to why HT was interviewing him on Thursday night; He held a small reception at the Los Angeles Shrine Auditorium where he later received the Spirit of Nature Award for this environmental philanthropy work and contributions at the Jules Verne Film Festival.
Before the awards show, Ted reunited with celebrity cast members from his original Captain Planet cartoon, still on the air in early (and we mean early) morning after 16 years. Voice actors attending included Ed Begley Jr., LeVar Burton and Malcolm McDowell. Also on hand were Tony Curtis, Ray Bradbury, Jean-Michel Cousteau and Tippi Hedren, who also were honored at the Jules Verne fest opener.
Then, along with the original voice of Captain Planet, David Coburn and Captain Planet in his original costume, Ted walked with the celebrity cast will walk the green carpet for the first time at the Jules Verne Film Festival.
“Captain Planet was ahead of his time, but maybe not as far ahead as needed,” Turner told HT. “He helped accelerate the eco-consciousness for the majority of kids who are now adults themselves, and have kids themselves. The issues we addressed have not gone away and it is our duty and pleasure to educate our kids. We have to depend on the kids to save the world.” He was quick to say “I was in cartoons before CNN: Bugs Bunny, Spider-man and Tom N’ Jerry.”
Celebrity voices of the cartoon have included: Tom Cruise, Meg Ryan Sting, Whoopi Goldberg, Martin Sheen, Neil Patrick Harris and many more. Ted is currently in talks to create a possible movie version of the cartoon – wonder who will play Captain Planet? Turner created the Captain Planet cartoon in 1990 and Captain Planet still remains the only “eco-super hero” in the world. His mission was to create a superhero that would teach kids about the environment and saving our planet.
“I love life,” he says. “I love the planet. I hate to be a prophet of doom. There’s no reason to be hopeless. We can turn this thing around. We must start now. This is the generation that has to do it.”
To that end, his Turner Foundation supports efforts to improve air and water quality, to develop sustainable energy, to protect our climate, to safeguard environmental health, to protect wildlife habitats, and to encourage practices and policies to curb population growth rates. Turner’s own landholdings-complete with a collective herd of some 45,000 bison-are run with an eye to the most progressive environmental standards, including water resource management, reforestation, and the reintroduction of native species. Even his latest business venture is keyed to the environment and the problem of climate change: DT Solar, a Turner Renewable Energy company, is dedicated to the provision of clean power solutions.
For Ted Turner, the future of our planet comes down to a typically simple Turnerian aphorism : “Let’s stop doing the dumb things and start doing the smart things.” And if he ever has a moment of doubt, he says, he recalls the words of his own comrade at arms, the inimitable Jacques Cousteau : “What can men of good conscience do but keep trying until the very end?”
It was fitting that Turner, who has made history with longshots and risky ventures, shared the evening with now wheelchair-bound author Ray Bradbury, who once said “You’ve got to jump off cliffs all the time and build wings on the way down.”
The Jules Verne Adventure Film Festival, a French event now moved to Hollywood once a year, included the “Blade Runner” 25th Anniversary with deleted scenes added and stars in attendance and caps on Dec. 15 with a tribute to comic legend Stan Lee and the cast of “Heroes.” The very cool fest features NASA and “Star Trek” exhibits in the exposition hall and great sci-fi and adventure movies all week.
For info: www.jvaff.org