Ted Turner wants to save the world and serve it bison
Media mogul-turned-philanthropist and bison burger pusher Ted Turner brought his message of peace, love and understanding to Hollywood movers and shakers at the Producers Guild of America's second annual Produced By conference being held at the 20th Century Fox lot this weekend.
Turner was there in part to try to get the media more involved in using their platform to carry messages of hope and change. Since stepping back from the media industry, Turner has focused much of his efforts working with the United Nations. He famously created the United Nations Foundation, using it to make a $1-billion donation to the organization, and is focused on ridding the world of nuclear weapons.
"You want to get your message across in a clever and entertaining way because you don't want to turn people off," he said, later adding that he is a "global worrier."
But Turner, whose goals are lofty, was vague on details of how to make the world a better place. "We need to start planning to live together rather than die together," he quipped. However, much of Turner's remarks seemed geared at what the West and the United States had to do, but little on what role other parts of the world would have to play for harmony to prevail over anarchy.
The irony that Turner was speaking at an event taking place on the studio lot owned by News Corp., whose chairman, Rupert Murdoch, was his longtime nemesis, was not noted by either Turner or Variety editor Tim Gray, who moderated the interview. Asked what he thought of news coverage today, Turner wouldn't take any swipes at CNN, which he founded, or its rivals, saying only, "some is good and some is less so."
On the general state of the entertainment industry, Turner was not optimistic. "Television is an overstocked medium," he said, noting that there are too many channels competing, making it hard for anyone to stand out.
As he often does, Turner bemoaned the AOL - Time Warner merger that ate up a big chunk of his fortune, saying he thought it was a bad idea from the start. Of course, at the press conference unveiling the deal, he famously cracked that the combination of the new and traditional media giants was "better than sex."
When he's not trying to save the world, Turner's hawking his "Ted's Montana Grill" restaurant chain, which is known for its bison burgers. Turner, who is the country's largest private land owner, said he has 55,000 bison. "They'll just start piling up if we don't eat something."
-- Joe Flint
Photo: Ted Turner. Credit: Stephen Hilger / Bloomberg News