`Portfolio' gets the lowdown on IAC head honcho Barry Diller


May 20, 2008|By LIZ SMITH | LIZ SMITH,Tribune Media Services

LOOK, WHEN you're dealing with amounts of money this large, none of it is justifiable. There is no moral right to any of this. But I earned this money over 10-plus years, not in one single year."

So says IAC Internet honcho Barry Diller, defending his $1.1 billion in profits from early option grants.

Barry is a cover boy this month, talking to Duff McDonald, whose story about him, titled "The Confessions of Barry Diller," appears in the new Conde Nast Portfolio. All kinds of pros and cons in this piece -- Barry Diller is ruthless, forthright, flip-flopping, extremely smart, the best-spoken man in business, prickly, charming, power incarnate, and McDonald ends by writing that during Barry's recent trial with John Malone, he "gave us a glimpse of vulnerability. Don't expect to see that again anytime soon."

At the trial, Malone failed to wrest away control of IAC, and Diller was victorious. McDonald writes: "Almost from the start ... Malone sought to make the trial a referendum on the performance of IAC's stock and Diller's pay, even though neither issue was legally relevant."

Hmmm, guess I'll still just settle for Dawn Steel's impression back in Barry's famous Hollywood days: "He was the sexiest man I'd ever met. He handled power differently from anyone I'd ever known, in this very complex, sexual way. You couldn't not look at him."

Sinatra stunner

Media always roll "iffy" dice when it comes to the Sinatras. So it's not a surprise to learn that Meredith Vieira on the Today show last week stunned Frank Sinatra Jr. by asking him about his famous "kidnapping" back in 1963. Sinatra, the younger, had traveled to New York with his sister Nancy specifically to celebrate his late father's being on the new U.S. postage stamp. He didn't see the point of going into past history, and he clammed up and never said another word. He is reported to be furious.

He and Nancy left New York City and joined their sister Tina in Las Vegas. The Sinatra stamp, showing the greatest pop singer of our time, is expected to sell several hundred million. Its initial printing is 150 million. Lick a Sinatra today!

Ford on the board?

Not only is the new Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull a big hit from the get-go at the Cannes Film Festival, but the Archaeological Institute of America will make it official today that Harrison Ford will be on the AIA's Board of Directors to "make a real commitment to the real world of archaeology." The May/June issue of AIA's magazine, Archaeology, has a cover story about finding the alleged crystal skull that inspired the movie. Says actor Ford: "Knowledge is power, and understanding the past can only help us in dealing with the present and the future."

Overkill and the `City'

I guess if you loved Sex and the City on TV, you'll adore the movie. Entertainment Weekly thinks so. From Page 22 to 99, it's all about the girls, the guys, the clothes, the shoes, the "reasons why" it matters. Frankly, by the time I got to Page 75, it mattered less and less. I hope the movie is great. And the ladies -- Sarah Jessica Parker, Cynthia Nixon, Kim Cattrall and Kristin Davis -- all look divine. But there is such a thing as overkill.

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