Jonathan Dolgen, the tough-minded dealmaker and skillful numbers-cruncher who spent a decade at Viacom working for Sumner Redstone and alongside Paramount Footage head Sherry Lansing, has died. He was 78.
Dolgen died Monday night of pure causes at UCLA Medical Middle surrounded by his household, a publicist introduced. He had suffered a cerebral hemorrhage in 2012.
A local of Queens and a former Wall Road lawyer, Dolgen additionally held prime positions at Columbia Footage, Fox and Sony Footage earlier than changing into the primary prime government recruited by Redstone for the newly merged leisure conglomerate cast by Viacom’s $8.2 billion buy of Paramount Communications.
“I had recognized Dolgen on and off over time once I was a movement image exhibitor, even earlier than I gained management of Viacom,” Redstone recalled in his 2001 e book, Ardour to Win. “He was with Columbia Footage, and I keep in mind sitting with him in a single specific assembly that grew to become quite heated and pondering, ‘Boy, there may be one good man.’”
Dolgen got here on as Viacom Leisure Group chairman in April 1994 to basically fill the function that the ousted Stanley Jaffe had performed as Paramount Communications president, and he shortly launched into slashing bills.
A burly 6-foot-2 with penetrating blue eyes, the intimidating Dolgen was recognized to benefit from the gamesmanship of negotiations and for his incendiary disposition. (He preferred to swing a baseball bat in his workplace, known as the “Coronary heart of Darkness” by many who handled him.)
“Mr. Dolgen has a status for having an abrasive persona and an incandescent mood, even by the requirements of Hollywood, the place screaming is typically thought to be a traditional stage of discourse,” Bernard Weinraub wrote in The New York Occasions quickly after the chief joined Viacom.
Nonetheless, the monetary whiz left three main studios in higher form than he discovered them. Profitable movies launched beneath his watch included Gladiator (1992), Groundhog Day (1993), Forrest Gump (1994), Braveheart (1995), Mission: Inconceivable (1996), Titanic (1997), The Truman Present (1998) and The Italian Job (2003).
After overseeing Paramount’s film and tv operations (Viacom launched the UPN community in 1995), Simon & Shuster and different divisions, Dolgen resigned in June 2004 within the wake of exec upheaval that noticed Tom Freston of MTV Networks and Les Moonves of CBS being named Viacom co-presidents.
“As a result of just lately introduced modifications in Viacom’s administration construction, the time was proper for me to step apart,” he stated. He then grew to become a principal within the funding entity Wooden River Ventures.
Born on April 27, 1945, Jonathan Lee Dolgen was the son of Selma Dolgen, a secretary for Zionist organizations and a Hadassah Hospital fundraiser, and Abe Dolgen, a Russian-born organizer and negotiator with the Worldwide Women Garment Staff Union in New York.
He majored in industrial and labor relations at Cornell College, graduating in 1966, after which earned his regulation diploma from NYU three years later. Dolgen specialised in company regulation on the Wall Road agency Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, then landed at Columbia as an assistant common counsel in 1976.
He moved to twentieth Century Fox in 1985 as studio chief Barry Diller was launching the Fox broadcast community, finally serving as chairman of twentieth Tv and Fox Inc. and overseeing such areas as TV manufacturing, syndication, licensing and merchandising.
Dolgen joined Sony in 1990 as president of Columbia and was president of Sony Footage Leisure’s movement image group from 1991-94 when he reined in prices within the wake of the free-spending Peter Guber-Jon Peters period on the studio.
He arrived at Viacom simply two months after Redstone had bested Diller in a bruising bidding battle for the corporate and began co-financing motion pictures with outdoors companions (and promoting abroad rights to others) to restrict Paramount’s dangers.
“This firm has by no means believed in taking outdoors financing for something,” Lansing instructed Newsweek in 1994. “They had been rigid. All that’s altering.”
Early in his tenure, Dolgen lured Michael Douglas and Steven Reuther’s Douglas/Reuther manufacturing banner to Paramount in a 12-picture deal.
In a 2017 interview with The Hollywood Reporter’s Stephen Galloway, Lansing known as Dolgen “a unbelievable accomplice” and “a genius on the monetary side.”
“We’d go into these board conferences the place there have been simply lengthy spreadsheets of all these financials, and I might at all times have my secretary name 10 minutes in and say, ‘There’s a disaster outdoors! It’s a must to come!’” she stated with a smile. “And as soon as [Dolgen] checked out me and stated, ‘Twelve minutes? That’s the longest you’ve ever been in one among these conferences.’ I stated, ‘However you understand how to do it, so that you don’t want me.’ … It was an exquisite partnership and an exquisite division of labor.”
A philanthropist, he donated to Pitzer School, UCLA Neurosurgery and Cornell, the place a constructing was renamed Dolgen Corridor in his honor in 2008. On the time of his demise, he was an emeritus board of director at Expedia and a board member for such nonprofits as The Simon Wisenthal Middle, the California Institute of the Arts and Claremont Graduate College.
Dolgen obtained the Simon Wiesenthal Middle’s Humanitarian Award in 1997 and was named Pioneer of 12 months by the Will Rogers Movement Image Pioneers Basis in 2002.
Survivors embody his highschool sweetheart and spouse of 57 years, Susan, a Queens School graduate and longtime board chair of the California State Summer season Faculty for the Arts; their daughters, Tamar and Lauren; son-in-law Sergio; brother David; and three grandchildren.
His household famous that Dolgen “consumed a number of day by day newspapers, beloved all types of music and watched each style of movement image and tv present” and was a “strolling encyclopedia and human Google search, together with his curiosity, thoughts and reminiscence sharp from childhood to his demise.”