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


A Talk to Action Anthology on Neo-Confederacy, Nullification and Secession (Updated)
Over the past year, a number of posts have addressed the growing Neo-Confederate movement, the advocacy of nullification of federal laws, and even the......
By Frederick Clarkson (3 comments)
Two Years Ago Today, the 'Least Credible History Book in Print' was Published
This post is an updated version of my post from this same date last year, which, not surprisingly, was titled "One Year Ago Today,......
By Chris Rodda (1 comment)
Geocentrist Creationists Seek To Become The Center Of Attention
There are days when fundamentalist zealots do something so off the wall that I don't know whether to laugh or cry, so I do......
By Rob Boston (5 comments)
A Full Quiver of Bad Advice
Mike Huckabee mailed out an open invitation to all Texas pastors inviting them to attend the Texas Renewal Project.  The first 1,000 to respond......
By wilkyjr (7 comments)
Opus Dei Priest's Secessionist Roadmap to Theocracy
Fr. C.J. ("John") McCloskey is in many ways the  American face of the secretive Catholic organization, Opus Dei.  He is a former Wall Streeter,......
By Frank Cocozzelli (10 comments)
Don't Be April Fooled by Far-Right Activists Dressed Up as Democratic Candidates
This is cross-posted from The Huffington Post. It expands and updates previous posts about the Neo-Confederate theocrats Michael Peroutka and Pastor David Whitney. Maryland......
By jhutson (0 comments)
Dangerous Defiance: Md. Official Ignores Court Ruling On Sectarian Prayer
I'm not a lawyer, but let me give you a little free legal advice anyway: It's never a good idea to defy a federal......
By Rob Boston (1 comment)
Catholic Right Leader Unapologetic about Call for 'Death to Liberal Professors'
Austin Ruse doesn't understand why people were so upset when he said on a national radio program that university leaders "should all be taken......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Justice For All: The Supreme Court And The Role Of The Justices' Religious Beliefs
Today's Washington Post has an interesting story about how the personal religious beliefs of members of the Supreme Court might affect their decisions.The question......
By Rob Boston (0 comments)
RINO Says His Dino Proves Noah's Flood -- Wha Wha What?
Michael Peroutka, the presidential candidate of the Constitution Party in 2004 and co-founder of the theocratic Institute on the Constitution, made news recently when......
By jhutson (0 comments)
Franklin Graham Slams Obama and Supports Putin in Battle Over Gay Rights
With a column vigorously supporting Vladimir Putin's anti-gay crusade in Russia, Evangelist Franklin Graham finds himself edging closer to inheriting the mantle of Fred......
By Bill Berkowitz (3 comments)
Neo-Confederate Democrats: Oxymorons?
“Many of you may be thinking that I have lost my mind,” Republican Del. Don Dwyer wrote in a March 2013 email and Facebook......
By jhutson (2 comments)
The Catholic Right Star & the Porn Star -- UPDATED
A Duke University freshman best known by her stage name Belle Knox has been much in the news. She was even interviewed by Piers......
By Frederick Clarkson (5 comments)
Baptists and Bullets in Texas Politics
One thing regional Baptist GOP candidates share in common is a deep affection for gun rights.  The endorsements of pro-gun positions takes precedence over......
By wilkyjr (1 comment)
The Battling Noahs & The Titanic Film Comeback of Noah & His Ark
Who would have imagined that in 2014, Noah, yes the Noah of the Biblical story of Noah and his Ark, would be garnering so......
By Bill Berkowitz (1 comment)

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 (1 comment)
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 (2 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 (0 comments)
Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Yes, that's right. We have totally lost our religious freedom in Mississippi and it must be restored by our legislators. ......
COinMS (0 comments)
Bill Gothard accused of harassing women and failing to report child abuse
Surprised no one's mentioned this, but one of the longest-standing leaders of the religious right is in a world of trouble.  Bill Gothard has been active in the fundie movement for over half......
Christian Dem in NC (1 comment)
Eugene Delgaudio may lose his day job as Virginia county supervisor
Surprised no one's noticed this, but one of the nation's most virulent homophobes is in a fight to keep his day job.  Eugene Delgaudio is best known as the head of Public Advocate......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)
Starkville Becomes First City in Mississippi to Pass Resolution Recognizing LGBT Residents
This caught me by surprise. I guess times are a changin in Dixieland. ------------------------------------- Cross posted from the HRC blog. Starkville Becomes First City in Mississippi to Pass Resolution Recognizing LGBT Residents January 21,......
COinMS (0 comments)
Robert Knight: Running against evolution could potentially be a winner for the GOP
In one of the starkest instances yet of how far gone the religious right is, one of its leading activists thinks that he's found another potential wedge issue that could drive more people into......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
First Catholic official convicted in child sex abuse scandal has conviction overturned
Last year, Monsignor William Lynn, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's secretary for clergy, was convicted of reassigning a priest whom he knew had molested a young boy to a parish that had a school attached......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)
Quotes From Sarah Palin 'War on Christmas" Book v. Quotes From 1920s Anti-Jewish Propaganda
The point of this comparison is not to cast Sarah Palin as a Nazi. Rather, my intent is to underline uncomfortable similarities between contemporary "war on Christmas" talking points propagated by elements of the......
Bruce Wilson (0 comments)
Francis sets up commission on how to deal with pedophile priests
Late yesterday Pope Francis announced--apparently after some prodding--that he will set up a panel to advise him on how to deal with child abuse by priests. The announcement was a forthright acknowledgment by the......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)
John Hagee: Jews will make deal with Antichrist before End Times
When John Hagee opens his mouth, you expect to hear lunacy.  An appearance earlier this month on TBN was no different.  On Friday, People for the American Way stumbled on a special prophecy-focused edition......
Christian Dem in NC (1 comment)
Doug Phillips Resigns From Vision Forum over "Inappropriate Relationship"
Doug Phillips resigned as president of Vision Forum earlier this week, citing an "inappropriate relationship."   Phillips posted an announcement on the Vision Forum website, stating, There has been serious sin in my life......
Rachel Tabachnick (2 comments)
A Wiccan Witch In Salem
Since it's only two weeks from Halloween, I made my usual foray into Christian Right Country to find out what their plans are for this Halloween. I don't know where to be sad or......
irishwitch (0 comments)
Jerry Falwell's Fundamentalist Liberty University Still Getting Hundreds of Millions in Federal Aid
In 2010, Liberty University got more federal funding than the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. In a 2011 Talk To Action story, contributor Bill Berkowitz covered the new trend in which right-wing evangelical colleges and......
Bruce Wilson (2 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.