Despite reported warnings from the mogul's lawyers, a profile of Los Angeles billionaire Haim Saban in the New Yorker magazine doesn't seem to pull any punches, including its description of how the businessman had his friend, President Bill Clinton, make a call to clear the way for his co-sale of the Fox Family Channel to Disney for $5.3 billion in 2001.
The piece, published today, also describes how Saban, the creator of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, put his money from the Fox Family sale into a tax shelter, a move that could have saved him a few hundred million but ultimately got him in hot water. But, according to the New Yorker's sometime Los Angeles watcher Connie Bruck, Saban was not above going to court over a $1 million benefit or reducing the amount he pledged to the Democratic National Committee from $10 million to $7 million.
The piece wasn't all that harsh and, at times painted the Hollywood player as an international power broker and shrewd businessman who lifted himself up from his bootstraps to become one of L.A.'s most-influential people.
But Saban, who cooperated with the piece, granting Bruck access to his Saban Forum and showing her his home, appeared to get cold feet because of the inclusion of his former tax advisor, a felon who has pleaded guilty to tax fraud, according to The Wrap's Sharon Waxman. Saban has characterized the lawyer, Matthew Krane, as someone who led him astray in his own tax filings.
Lawyers warned the magazine that the piece better not be “disparaging” or inaccurate. Pressure to water down the story apparently continued until Friday's deadline, Waxman reported, and New Yorker editor-in-chief David Remnick even spoke to Saban shortly before that.
But looking at the piece — and considering the magazine's legendary fact-checking — it doesn't appear the legendary negotiator got his way this time.