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Peter Chernin unveils movies, TV shows -- but continues to stalk Silicon Valley

July 26, 2011 | 12:48 pm

Silicon Valley holds a certain allure for Peter Chernin.

The former News Corp. president, who started his own entertainment company two years ago, has been investing in promising technology ventures that could upset the media status quo.

PeterChernin2011 Chernin has experience in this realm. An architect of the online video service Hulu -- whose popularity has created conflicts for traditional broadcast networks -- he advocated making TV shows available for free.

That has become an increasingly unpopular stand in companies like News Corp., which owns Hulu with media giants Walt Disney Co. and NBCUniversal.

More recently, Chernin has made a handful of investments in technology firms. His Santa Monica company, the Chernin Group, has taken stakes in Pandora Media Inc., the Internet radio provider; Fullscreen Inc., a digital media start-up; and Flipboard Inc., which makes software that displays photos and text posted on social networks as a digital magazine on the iPad.

Chernin also has been approached by investors weighing a possible acquisition of Yahoo Inc.

The investor group continues to be interested in buying the portal, which has been the No. 1 website in the U.S. for more than six months and operates the top sites in 12 publishing categories, including finance, news, sports and entertainment lifestyle.

Yahoo's current chief executive, Carol Bartz, has been criticized by investors for her overall business strategy.

As part of their plan, Chernin would play a leading role in Yahoo's management, according to two people familiar with the ongoing discussions. He could be chairman of the board or chief executive.

The former position would make it possible for him to continue running his film and television production operation, which is funded by News Corp.

That venture, Chernin Entertainment, is poised to premiere its first high-profile film and television projects.  "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," which hits theaters Aug. 5, will reprise the 1960s-era science fiction franchise that has been in development at News Corp.'s Fox movie studio for years. "Terra Nova," which is shaping up to be one of the most expensive TV shows ever, will land on the Fox network Sept. 26.

Hollywood is watching to see whether Chernin, 60, will deliver an equally powerful encore to his 12-year tenure overseeing the film, television and digital businesses of Rupert Murdoch’s sprawling media conglomerate News Corp. Chernin spent two decades working for Murdoch.

-- Dawn C. Chmielewski, Ben Fritz and Meg James

Photo of Peter Chernin; Credit: Paul Buck / EPA

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