Phillip Anschutz: The Most Powerful Billionaire You Have Never Heard Of
Bill Berkowitz printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Aug 31, 2011 at 11:31:47 AM EST
He's been dubbed the "stealth media mogul," labeled "America's greediest executive," by Fortune magazine, and was added to "The 12 Most Powerful Christians in Hollywood" list on Beliefnet. He has also been described as "secretive" and "reclusive," given that he reportedly hasn't spoken on the record to the press since 1974. Nevertheless, he is identified as an active supporter of Christian and conservative causes.

He may not be directly tied to the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), but he appears to be single-handedly accomplishing at least one of the goals of NAR's "Seven Mountains Mandate": taking control of the "mountain" of entertainment.

He's Phillip Anschutz, one of the wealthiest men in America that most Americans have never heard of, and he clearly desires it that way.

Denver, Colorado-based devout Christian billionaire

A devout Christian, Anschutz, a Denver, Colorado-based billionaire who has made a chunk of his fortune in railroads, telecommunications, and the oil and gas businesses, has, through his Anschutz Entertainment Group, taken the entertainment industry by storm.

Anschutz owns the Regal Entertainment theater chain; movie making enterprises such as Walden Media, which co-produced The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe,"(that grossed more than 1 billion in ticket and DVD sales); arenas, such as Los Angeles's Staples Center; a number of sports teams, including one-third of the LA Lakers basketball team, and stakes in the LA Kings hockey team and the LA Galaxy soccer team; and, Anschutz Entertainment Group's (AEG) concerts division promotes tours for pop stars like Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber and Jon Bon Jovi.

Anschutz also owns, The Examiner chain of conservative newspapers, and last year, Anschutz added The Weekly Standard (bought for a reported $1 million from Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation), an influential conservative magazine, to his ever-expanding quiver.

Anschutzing Los Angeles

For nearly 16 years, from the time that both the Raiders and Rams left Los Angeles, the city has been without a National Football League team. Now, thanks to Anschutz, within the next few years that could change.

Earlier this month, the Los Angeles city council, "unanimously approved tentative plans by AEG to build a new NFL-quality stadium on the site of the outdated and underused LA Convention Center," Forbes magazine's Christopher Helman recently reported. "The deal still requires a raft of further approvals before construction can begin, but it shows that Anschutz is moving assuredly towards the goal of bringing pro football back to LA. And what Anschutz (net worth: $7.5 billion or so) wants, Anschutz usually gets." (Anschutz comes in at #34 on Forbes' list of "The Richest People in America.")

According to Helman, Anschutz's AEG, "would put up all the expected $1.2 billion to build the stadium, to be called Farmers Field. It would seat 72,000 and could be completed as soon as 2016. The only cost to LA taxpayers would be some $275 million in tax breaks."

Anschutz's stadium plan was aided by the California legislature. As the Los Angeles Times reported in September 2007, "One of the last things lawmakers did before they adjourned ... was to pass a measure that would make Anschutz Entertainment Group, owner of Staples Center, eligible for millions of dollars in state funds to improve the downtown area around its arena."
Last year, in a Forbes article titled "The Man Behind the Curtain" Helman pointed out that Anschutz has treasured his anonymity, which has earned, "him a reputation as one of the most secretive moguls in America." Helman described Anschutz as "Thin, fit, about 5 foot 8 inches, [and] not easy to pick out of a group."

Helman reported that the Kansas-born Anschutz's, "holding company has just sold its oil and gas fields in the Marcellus Shale of Pennsylvania and the Bakken Shale of North Dakota for roughly $3 billion--the biggest payday of his life."
Now, his "chief theater of operations is [the] privately held Anschutz Entertainment Group, with estimated revenue of $2 billion. Through AEG he controls 120 entertainment venues around the world, including Staples Center in L.A.--part of his just-completed $2.5 billion L.A. Live complex, which includes the Nokia Theater and a 1,101-room hotel tower."

According to Helman, "AEG, in partnership with Ryan Seacrest, soon plans to launch a new music-and-lifestyle-themed TV network that will bring viewers into the likes of LA Live, Shanghai's new Mercedes-Benz Arena and [England's] O2 [arena]."

The Odd Couple: Michael Jackson and Anschutz

Perhaps the strangest of Anschutz's business relationships revolves around the late Michael Jackson. Anschutz's AEG was the prime promoter of what was to be the "King of Pop's" spectacular comeback tour.

According to Portfolio.com's Matt Haber, the deal was, "potentially worth hundreds of millions of dollars," as Anschutz's AEG Live, "would promote the 45 London Jackson events, ... at London's O2 arena, which ... [is] owned by AEG Worldwide. AEG was so committed to keeping the event on track, it paid Dr. Conrad Murray to act as the singer's personal physician. Dr. Murray is ... at the center of a police investigation into Jackson's overdose from the anesthetic Propofol."

AEG Live also partnered with Jackson's estate to release This is It, a movie put together from "more than 100 hours of footage of Jackson preparing for the concerts." Since its release, This Is It has become the highest grossing concert film in history, with over $250 million in worldwide sales and nearly $45 million in US DVD sales.

Political Activism

Anschutz's voice of choice appears to be The Examiner chain of free newspapers. According to The Examiner's Karen Holt, "His instructions to the editorial staff was simple - the editorial page would be composed only of conservative columns by conservative op-ed writers. " Amongst the regular contributors are "Byron York (National Review) - chief political correspondent; David Freddoso (author of The Case Against Barack Obama) - investigative reporter; and Michael Barone (Fox News) - senior political analyst." Anschutz "also owns Examiner.com - which offers hundreds of journalists the opportunity to create hyperlocal dispatches from the comfort of their homes."

According to newsmeat.com, Anschutz has donated nearly $550,000 to political candidates and causes, including $301,000 to special interest groups and $223,000 to Republican Party candidates and committees.

As I reported in a November 2007 story, Anschutz supported Colorado's anti-gay Amendment 2, a ballot initiative designed to overturn a state law giving equal rights to gays and lesbians. He helped fund the Discovery Institute, a conservative philanthropy-supported "think tank" based in Seattle, Washington that promotes intelligent design and critiques some theories of evolution.

He has also contributed to Brent Bozell's Media Research Center, the New York-based Institute for American Values, another conservative philanthropy-supported organization that campaigns for marriage and against single parenting, Enough is Enough, whose President and Chair of its Board of Directors is Donna Rice Hughes (the major figure in the sex scandal that ended the 1987 campaign of Gary Hart, in the Democratic presidential primary), and which claims to be "Lighting the way to protect children and families from the dangers of illegal Internet pornography and sexual predators," and Morality in the Media, established in 1962 "to combat obscenity and uphold decency standards in the media."

One way that Anschutz expresses his political/Christian beliefs is through Walden Media films. According to the website Moria, "As with much of Walden Media's films, The Dark is Rising [adapted from a popular series of young-adult fantasy books from British author Susan Cooper] comes with an underlying conservative Christian agenda -.... director David L. Cunningham, who previously made the heavily conservative-biased The Road to 9/11 (2006) mini-series, which tried to blame 9/11 on the Clinton administration, is an evangelical Christian - indeed, Cunningham's father [Loren] is founder of the Christian youth organization YWAM [Youth With A Mission] and David has lectured on presenting a Christian message on film.




Display:

WWW Talk To Action


The Cardinal's Gasbag: Catholic League Leader Rushes To Defend Dolan From AU Criticism
There is a thing called Godwin's Law on the internet. It holds that if an online argument goes on long enough, someone will drag......
By Rob Boston (1 comment)
The Theocratic Politics of Raphael Cruz
"There's a relationship there that's unlike any in American history to my knowledge. We've just never seen anything remotely like this...   I believe......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
An Assassin's Motivation?
On June 17, 2015, Dylann Roof quietly sat in the prayer meeting at African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina before he shot......
By wilkyjr (2 comments)
Christian Right Turns to Nullification to Counter Marriage Equality
Last year in The Public Eye magazine, Rachel Tabachnick and Frank L. Cocozzelli warned of the trend on the religious and political Right toward......
By Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
Historian Gerald Horne on Charleston, Church, & Slave Resistance
Professor Gerald Horne of the University of Houston notes the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church was at the center of Black resistance to slavery......
By Chip Berlet (2 comments)
The Zealots Strike Back: Latest Religious Right Sputtering Over Marriage Equality Is More Weak Tea
I've been monitoring the Religious Right's response to the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on marriage equality, and I'm not impressed.So far, the reaction of......
By Rob Boston (0 comments)
Is Koch Brothers Money Fueling Criticism of Pope Francis on Climate Change?
In my last post I examined conservative criticism of Laudato Sii, ("Praised Be"), Pope Francis's encyclical on the environment and poverty. Indeed, some of......
By Frank Cocozzelli (3 comments)
Politics in Theocratic Times
The matter of religious exemptions from civil rights and labor laws is at the cutting edge of the contemporary political strategy of the Christian......
By Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Why Is the Christian Right Remaining Silent About the Dennis Hastert Affair?
In early June, the Associated Press' Mary Clare Jalonick reported that a Montana woman interviewed by the FBI claimed that "her brother was sexually......
By Bill Berkowitz (1 comment)
Remembering James Dunn: Baptist Champion Of Religious Freedom
When I began working for Americans United in 1987, one thing confused me: Why were there so many Southern Baptists hanging around?Southern Baptists were......
By Rob Boston (0 comments)
Resistance Is Futile: Some County Clerks Say `I Won't' To Marriage Equality
One week ago, the U.S. Supreme Court extended marriage equality nationwide. So where are we now?To no one's surprise, leaders of the Religious Right......
By Rob Boston (2 comments)
Celebrating July 4th
A decade or so ago I was vacationing in Hot Springs,  Arkansas.  It was July 4th and I attended the First Baptist Church in......
By wilkyjr (1 comment)
Nine Mainline Protestant Christian Martyrs
This is a tricky time for the Christian Right. Immediately following the mass murder at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in......
By Frederick Clarkson (4 comments)
Terms, Definitions & Glossaries for Writing about the Religious Right
One of the challenges in writing about the Religious Right and what to do about it is the matter of terms and definitions. That's......
By Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
Top Southern Baptist Official Admits Churches Won't Be Forced To Marry Same-Sex Couples
For years now, Religious Right leaders have been whipping up hysteria by claiming that, should marriage equality become the law of the land, conservative......
By Rob Boston (3 comments)

Evidence violence is more common than believed
Think I've been making things up about experiencing Christian Terrorism or exaggerating, or that it was an isolated incident?  I suggest you read this article (linked below in body), which is about our great......
ArchaeoBob (2 comments)
Central Florida Sheriff Preached Sermon in Uniform
If anyone has been following the craziness in Polk County Florida, they know that some really strange and troubling things have happened here.  We've had multiple separation of church and state lawsuits going at......
ArchaeoBob (2 comments)
Demon Mammon?
An anthropologist from outer space might be forgiven for concluding that the god of this world is Mammon. (Or, rather, The Market, as depicted by John McMurtry in his book The Cancer Stage of......
daerie (0 comments)
Anti-Sharia Fever in Texas: This is How It Starts
The mayor of a mid-size Texan city has emerged in recent months as the newest face of Islamophobia. Aligning herself with extremists hostile to Islam, Mayor Beth Van Duyne of Irving, Texas has helped......
JSanford (0 comments)
Evangelicals Seduced By Ayn Rand Worship Crypto-Satanism, Suggest Scholars
[update: also see my closely related stories, "Crypto-Cultists" and "Cranks": The Video Paul Ryan Hoped Would Go Away, and The Paul Ryan/Ayn Rand/Satanism Connection Made Simple] "I give people Ayn Rand with trappings" -......
Bruce Wilson (11 comments)
Ted Cruz Anointed By Pastor Who Says Jesus Opposed Minimum Wage, and Constitution Based on the Bible
In the video below, from a July 19-20th, 2013 pastor's rally at a Marriott Hotel in Des Moines, Iowa, Tea Party potentate Ted Cruz is blessed by religious right leader David Barton, who claims......
Bruce Wilson (1 comment)
Galt and God: Ayn Randians and Christian Rightists Expand Ties
Ayn Rand's followers find themselves sharing a lot of common ground with the Christian Right these days. The Tea Party, with its stress on righteous liberty and a robust form of capitalism, has been......
JSanford (4 comments)
Witchhunts in Africa and the U.S.A.
Nigerian human rights activist Leo Igwe has recently written at least two blog posts about how some African Pentecostal churches are sending missionaries to Europe and the U.S.A. in an attempt to "re-evangelize the......
Diane Vera (2 comments)
Charles Taze Russell and John Hagee
No doubt exists that Texas mega-church Pastor John Hagee would be loathe to be associated with the theology of Pastor C.T. Russell (wrongly credited with founding the Jehovah's Witnesses) but their theological orbits, while......
COinMS (0 comments)
A death among the common people ... imagination.
Or maybe my title would better fit as “Laws, Books, where to find, and the people who trust them.”What a society we've become!The wise ones tell us over and over how the more things......
Arthur Ruger (1 comment)
Deconstructing the Dominionists, Part VI
This is part 6 of a series by guest front pager Mahanoy, originally dated November 15, 2007 which I had to delete and repost for technical reasons. It is referred to in this post,......
Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Republican infighting in Mississippi
After a bruising GOP runoff election for U.S. Senator, current MS Senator Thad Cochran has retained his position and will face Travis Childers (Democrat) in the next senate election. The MS GOP is fractured......
COinMS (5 comments)
America's Most Convenient Bank® refuses to serve Christians
Representatives of a well known faith-based charitable organization were refused a New Jersey bank’s notarization service by an atheist employee. After inquiring about the nature of the non-profit organization and the documents requiring......
Jody Lane (6 comments)
John Benefiel takes credit for GOP takeover of Oklahoma
Many of you know that Oklahoma has turned an unrecognizable shade of red in recent years.  Yesterday, one of the leading members of the New Apostolic Reformation all but declared that he was responsible......
Christian Dem in NC (4 comments)
John Benefiel thinks America is under curse because Egyptians dedicated North America to Baal
You may remember that Rick Perry put together his "Response" prayer rallies with the help of a slew of NAR figures.  One of them was John Benefiel, an Oklahoma City-based "apostle."  He heads up......
Christian Dem in NC (5 comments)

More Diaries...




All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors. Everything else 2005 Talk to Action, LLC.