Frank Biondi Jr., who helped shape the modern-day media industry while managing companies such as Viacom, Universal Studios and HBO, has died, it was reported Tuesday.
Biondi, who was 74, died of bladder cancer at his home in Los Angeles, his daughter Jane Biondi Munna told the Loa Angeles Times.
Biondi helped build HBO and Viacom into formidable entertainment companies and oversaw some of the most popular media brands, including MTV, Nickelodeon and Paramount Pictures, during the 1980s and 1990s. He also served as chairman and chief executive of Universal Studios in the late 1990s.
In a 2011 interview with The Times, Biondi recalled that Viacom was poised in the early 1990s to buy NBC, MSNBC and CNBC from General Electric for $850 million. “We were literally driving back from Connecticut and Sumner called and said … he wanted to buy Paramount instead,” Biondi said.
Redstone emerged from a bruising bidding war with his prize. But the Paramount acquisition, and the purchase of the Blockbuster video chain, left Viacom deeply in debt.
Biondi helped Redstone quickly integrate Viacom’s divisions. He was widely described as the even-keeled foil to the sharp-elbowed Redstone. Viacom’s successes included the Oscar-winning film “Braveheart,” the irreverent MTV cartoon “Beavis and Butt-Head” and the TV sitcom “Frasier.”
Biondi was pushed out in 1998 amid a broader shakeup. He exited with a settlement reportedly worth more than $25 million.
Biondi is survived by Carol Oughton Biondi, his wife of 45 years, as well as daughters Anne Biondi Simonds and Jane Biondi Munna; and six grandchildren.