“Frank Biondi Jr., who became one of the leading architects of the modern-day media industry while leading companies such as Viacom, Universal Studios and HBO, died early Monday,” report Ryan Faughnder and Meg James for the Los Angeles Times.
The story continues, “Biondi, who was 74, died of bladder cancer at his home in Los Angeles, his daughter Jane Biondi Munna told The Times.
“A highly regarded businessman, Biondi helped build HBO and Viacom into formidable entertainment companies and oversaw some of the most important media brands during the 1980s and 1990s. He also served as chairman and chief executive of Universal Studios, and held key entertainment executive roles at Sesame Workshop and Coca-Cola, when it owned Columbia Pictures.”
Writes Variety’s Cynthia Littleton in her obituary, “Biondi was the consummate example of the kind of polished, Ivy League-trained business executives who rose through the ranks in the entertainment industry in the 1980s and ‘90s. He was a respected leader known as a whiz with financial data and high-level dealmaking, but he left the creative side of network and studio operations to others.”
Littleton adds, “Highly regarded as plain-spoken and gentlemanly, [Biondi] was content to stay out of the direct spotlight for a decade while working for the larger-than-life Viacom mogul Sumner Redstone. He was famously fired by Redstone in January 1996 after a nine-year run as Viacom’s CEO — a move that helped cement Redstone’s reputation as a mercurial boss.”
The Times story also notes that “Biondi is survived by Carol Biondi, his wife of 45 years, as well as daughters [Munna and] Anne Biondi Simonds.”
If you have the time, here’s an 80 minute oral history that was conducted by the Cable Center with Biondi in 2000. We found it posted on YouTube.