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The Mouth Of The South

from The Optionist

Q&A: Ted Turner Biographer Porter Bibb

The Mouth of the South: Turner at the official CNN launch event in Atlanta on June 1, 1980. (Rick Diamond/Getty Images)

All the drama around CNN and Jeff Zucker got me thinking about Ted Turner. I called up Porter Bibb, who wrote the best-selling 1993 biography of CNN founder Ted Turner, Ted Turner: It Ain’t As Easy as It Looks. Bibb told me about how he came to be Turner’s biographer, and, most interestingly, Turner’s unsparing, unfavorable thoughts about CNN under recently-ousted Jeff Zucker, and John Malone’s relationship to Turner.

Turner’s life — his father’s suicide, winning the America’s Cup, turning a rinky-dink Atlanta station at the end of the dial into a media powerhouse, his marriage to Jane Fonda — is the raw material for a great TV series. In the age of streaming, Bibb thinks Turner’s full life is better suited for a multi-part limited series, though he compares the possibilities not unfairly to Scorsese’s Howard Hughes biopic, The Aviator. (Interested? Ping me and I’ll put you in touch with Bibb, who controls the rights).

The book was optioned years ago to a couple of Turner executives, but rights eventually reverted to Bibb. A few others have kicked the tires, including Oliver Stone. But as Bibb explains, he’s feeling a new eagerness to see something come to screen both because of the timeliness of the story and Turner’s declining health. 

Bibb was Rolling Stone’s first publisher where he recruited high school buddy Hunter Thompson to write for Jann Wenner’s publication; now he’s an investment banker (currently at Mediatech Capital Partners) specializing in media deals for 40 years.

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Posted on February 18, 2022 by Editor

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