Michael King, Builder of a TV Empire, Dies at 67

29 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Michael King, Builder of a TV Empire, Dies at 67.

Michael King, the syndication mogul who, with his older brother Roger, helped launch Oprah Winfrey’s talk show, “Dr. King, who had been treated in the intensive care unit at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in West Hollywood for nearly three weeks, was taken off life support after being admitted with pneumonia, TMZ reported. Brothers Roger and Michael King were two of the six siblings who inherited King World Productions from their father, Charles King, and the driving force behind bringing “The Oprah Winfrey Show” to syndication and redefining daytime TV in the 1980s. The King brothers seized an opening for independently produced and syndicated game shows and talk shows in the 1970s, when federal regulations limited how much programming the three major networks could own.

With King serving as CEO, King World launched The Oprah Winfrey Show in 1986, and her Chicago-based talk show led to two other daytime powerhouses, Dr. The duo would go on to secure the rights to popular game shows such as Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy before the company was acquired by CBS in 2000 for a reported $2.5 billion. The brothers grew the company from one that sold “The Little Rascals” reruns at a small office in Summit, N.J., to one with more than $100 million in annual revenue and a lineup of talk and game shows that accounted for more than 100 million viewers each day. Michael King also was the founder and CEO of the boxing-focused King Sports Worldwide, and part of an investment group that owned the New York Yankees, New Jersey Nets, and New Jersey Devils.

By the mid-1990s, the proliferation of cable television, satellite networks and home video led the government to relax the ownership restrictions on network television, allowing the Kings to sell their company to CBS in 1999 for $2.5 billion in CBS stock. Two fighters that King promoted — Hassan N’Dam and Miguel Marriaga — are participating in world title bouts on June 13 in New York and June 19 in Montreal, respectively. The brothers also partnered with Merv Griffin to turn new iterations of pre-existing game show formats “Wheel” and “Jeopardy” into early evening powerhouses that continue today. “Anyone that knew Michael knows what a passion he brought to everything he touched. Thanks to his father’s example, Michael grew up expecting to work in the television business. “Our whole family always did fun stuff together, and we were always talking about the business we revered and how we were going to grow in it,” he told Variety in 2007 following Roger’s death from a stroke at age 63. By 1988, “Wheel of Fortune” was said to be earning $125 million a year in advertising revenue and syndication fees, while costing $6 million to produce and $20 million to sell and distribute.

In 1975, he joined his brother Roger in Fort Lauderdale at WKID-TV, where they co-hosted an all-night talk show and sold advertising to, among others, the mobster Meyer Lansky, who was promoting his dinner theater. “I said, ‘Meyer, every time I come down here, I come down with 10 fingers,’ ” Michael King recalled. “ ‘If I go back with 10 fingers, I feel like I done good.’ ” Roger King died in 2007. King once said that he had wanted to be a rock star. (He settled for hiring the ex-Doobie Brother Michael McDonald to play at his 40th birthday party.) But he also relished his vicarious role in the entertainment industry.

They’re lawyers and accountants and businessmen. “We have a passion for this company and this industry,” he continued. “We made Pat Sajak and Vanna White major stars.

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