The Icarus Factor

July 27, 2011|
The Icarus Factor by Rod Mcqueen
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In June 2000, Edgar Bronfman Jr. sold Seagram Co. to French media giant Vivendi in a $34-billion deal. Young, handsome and fabulously rich, Edgar Jr. seemed finally to have silenced the detractors who for fifteen years had scorned him, calling him a naïve dilettante and “the star-struck whisky king.”

As the third-generation president and CEO of a family dynasty in the booze business, Edgar Jr. had made controversial corporate decisions. In 1995 he sold Seagram’s holding in the secure but boring DuPont to buy Hollywood studio MCA. In 1998, he acquired PolyGram, thereby creating the world’s largest record company. In 2000, when convergence was the corporate mantra, he merged Seagram with Vivendi.

At fifteen, Edgar Jr. had been designated by his grandfather, Sam Bronfman, Seagram’s legendary founder, to eventually head the business Mr. Sam had built as a bootlegger during Prohibition. For Edgar Jr., that choice turned into a curse as he agonized over Mr. Sam’s prescient 1966 warning: “Shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations. I’m worried about the third generation. Empires have come and gone.”

In 1994 when Edgar Jr. succeeded his father, he announced: “I’m not going down in history as the one Bronfman who pissed away the family fortune.” Despite all his efforts, Edgar Jr. could not avoid his destiny. The value of the Bronfman family holdings in Seagram – swapped for shares in Vivendi – fell by almost three-quarters from $8.2 billion to $2.2 billion between 2000 and 2002. Business Week featured Edgar Jr. on its “Worst Managers List,” calling him the “most desperate billionaire around.”

In this unauthorized biography, acclaimed and award-winning business writer Rod McQueen tells the gripping story of an empire’s demise. Based on 150 revealing interviews with high school friends, associates from his Hollywood and Broadway days, as well as former colleagues, officers and directors at Seagram and Vivendi, The Icarus Factortracks Edgar Jr. on his meteoric rise and spectacular fall. In addition to Edgar Jr. himself, McQueen interviewed many powerful media and entertainment leaders including Frank Biondi Jr., Jack Valenti, Barry Diller, Ron Meyer, Doug Morris, and Herbert Allen Jr.

What emerges is a compelling and intimate portrait of a man who wrestled with his own fervent dreams and family responsibilities. This is a story about duty and destiny, passion and performance, family and failure. Above all, it is a cautionary tale about the complex relationship between a father and a son with catastrophic consequences.

Title:The Icarus Factor
Format:Kobo ebook
Published:July 27, 2011
Publisher:Doubleday Canada
Appropriate for ages:All ages
ISBN - 13:9780385672177

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