Jerry Perenchio: Kind And Caring

31 05 2017

 By Timothy D. Naegele[1]

His name was Andrew Jerrold Perenchio, or simply “Jerry.”  He was a billionaire and a true Hollywood mogul, who shunned publicity and personal attention, and valued his privacy.  This occurred despite the fact that he built enormous economic wealth and power in the American and global entertainment industries, where fame and public attention are coveted and celebrities are lionized and fawned over.[2]

He was my next-door neighbor growing up on Glenroy Avenue, south of the fabled Sunset Boulevard, a mile west of the UCLA campus in Westwood, a suburb of Los Angeles.  He lived there with his lovely first wife Robin, their baby son John—who was born when I was in my first year of high school—and his wife’s two daughters from a previous marriage.  My mother loved Robin, who was very kind to her.

I went away to college at UCSB and later graduated from UCLA.  I was president of the Sophomore Class at Santa Barbara, and an SAE; and Jerry had been president of the same class at UCLA, and also a member of the nation’s largest national fraternity.  He put on theatrical concerts in college, and I was a concert promoter too.[3]  Jerry introduced me to Lou Robin, who was a concert promoter extraordinaire, and later the manager of Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash for 30 years[4]; and I bought talent from him.

Both Jerry and my father urged me to go to law school, which I did at Berkeley, before spending two years as an Army officer assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon.[5]  After leaving the military, I became counsel to the U.S. Senate Banking Committee on Capitol Hill, and later chief of staff to the late Senator Edward W. Brooke, the first African-American senator since Reconstruction after our Civil War, with Barack Obama being the third.[6]

We planned a fundraising concert in Boston for the Senator’s reelection, and I called Jerry about getting talent.  He arranged for the wonderful Johnny Mathis, among others; and he personally paid for an old stage manager friend of his, Phil Stein, to oversee everything.[7]  The evening went perfectly and was an enormous success, thanks to Jerry’s generosity, caring and guidance.

When I contemplated leaving the Senate, he and I talked about me working for him.  He was launching a membership TV enterprise nationally; and my first job was to head a marketing crew of more than 20 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, as I recall.  I flew out to LA from Washington to spend a weekend with him, talking about our future.  Unbeknownst to me,  we would spend the entire weekend with the great Burt Lancaster, watching football games at Jerry’s house in Bel Air, playing golf at the Bel Air Country Club, and having dinner at Burt’s rented house on the beach in Malibu with Jerry’s second wife and Burt’s partner at the time.[8]

The weekend was a success, and Jerry offered me the job; however, he was very frank and told me upfront that he would fire me if I did not measure up to his expectations.  My marriage was “shaky,” and I had two wonderful little kids; and I would have to be traveling two-thirds of every month, and I could not take the risk of losing my job after I had moved my young family from Washington to L.A.  Rather than leave him hanging, I thought about friends of mine who might fit the bill, and were single and not otherwise encumbered.

There had been a “clique” of very talented young officers at the Pentagon’s Officers Athletic Club; and one of them was an Air Force officer named Al Horn.  From the military, he had gone to Harvard Business School, and was working for Procter & Gamble.  He was tough; and I recommended him to Jerry, and the rest is history.  Al became Jerry’s right arm when he and Norman Lear combined their efforts; and later Al ran the Warner Bros. studio, and today he is chairman of the Walt Disney Studios.[9]  I entered the private practice of law, as a partner of the Washington law firm, and then struck out on my own.

When I was finishing up at UCLA, I lived in Malibu, where Topanga Canyon empties into the Pacific Ocean.  I rented a funky one-room apartment on the sand, and met some wonderful surfers and watermen, who remained my friends for life.  As the years passed, and I brought my kids west to California for vacations, I decided to rent small apartments from such friends, to give my kids a sense of really living in California as I had known it.   After one of the storms hit the California coast, a small damaged house on a priceless lot next to where we lived part-time became available and I bought it for $475,000.

I planned to tear it down, and build something new; and while the planning was underway, a violent El Niño storm hit Malibu.[10]  I got a call in Washington from my local architect in Malibu, saying that a house up the street had been washed out to sea.  About two hours later, he called back to say that mine had been swept to sea as well.  When I arrived in California, the lot was bare, even though heavy wood pilings had been driven deep into the sand to support the little house that had been there.

Because of the damage to structures in Malibu, the permitting process to build anything new on the ocean was horrendous.  I hired an internationally-recognized architect, William Turnbull[11], to design a multi-unit structure for the property; and I personally made a pitch to the California Coastal Commission, right after movie mogul David Geffen’s attorney had pulled his application for changes to the seawall at his ocean-front Malibu home.  I was given the go-ahead by one vote; and the project required more than 40 separate permits to be built.

In the final analysis, my “dream home” became an unmitigated nightmare.  I was trying to build it from Washington, D.C., all the while trusting people in California who were “picking my pockets.”  A small bank in Massachusetts had financed the project; and when both the bank and I refused to put any more money into it, the bank alone had “invested” about $3.5 million.  The delays and cost overruns were monumental.  The bank gave me a year to buy it out for $1.6 million, or walk away from the project.

I talked with Jerry about it, because he had completed colossal work on his new mansion in Bel Air, as well as work on his golf course and houses in Malibu, down the street from my property.  He offered to help, and said that his trusted builder might be able to finish the project but I would have to sell it once the work was done.  I was so sick and tired of it that I could scream.  In the final analysis, I thanked him and always appreciated Jerry’s interest in helping.

Fast forward, and my wonderful son was getting his MBA and JD at Pepperdine University in Malibu, up the hill from where we had lived; and he told me that he was thinking about practicing law.  I told him “never”[12], and put him in touch with Jerry—for whom he began working at Univision while still a student, before he worked there full time.  Ultimately, when Jerry sold Univision, my son had become a Senior Vice President; and he loved working for Jerry.  Needless to say, Jerry could not have been nicer and more supportive.

My parents met in grade school in Minneapolis; and my mother came to California first, with her parents when she was a young girl.  My father followed later; and they lived in Hollywood after they were married, before building their home in Westwood, and they knew famous movie stars, etc.  They always told me not to get involved with those in the business, whom they described as “phonies.”  Years later, Jerry told me something similar: that they were not “nice.”  Hollywood is a rough-and-tumble town, much like our nation’s capital; and the narcissistic “phonies” of both towns seem to adore each other.

In the final analysis, yes, Jerry Perenchio was a tough Hollywood mogul, and a legend.  But  he was very kind and caring too, qualities that not everyone saw in him.  It was as if they were sometimes “hidden under a bushel.”  As I have written about Ed Brooke:

I am sad that [he] is gone. He is missed. He was not perfect; no one is. Yet, he made a difference. . . .  And I will always remember [him].[13]

The same thing is true of Jerry, in spades.  He was very special—whether he had any money or not.  I will always be deeply indebted to him for the kindness and caring that he showed to my son and me throughout his life.

May God continue to bless him . . .

Jerry Perenchio

© 2017, Timothy D. Naegele


[1]  Timothy D. Naegele was counsel to the United States Senate’s Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, and chief of staff to Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal recipient and former U.S. Senator Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass). He and his firm, Timothy D. Naegele & Associates, specialize in Banking and Financial Institutions Law, Internet Law, Litigation and other matters (see www.naegele.com and http://www.naegele.com/documents/TimothyD.NaegeleResume.pdf). He has an undergraduate degree in economics from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), as well as two law degrees from the School of Law (Boalt Hall), University of California, Berkeley, and from Georgetown University. He served as a Captain in the U.S. Army, assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon, where he received the Joint Service Commendation Medal (see, e.g., https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commendation_Medal#Joint_Service). Mr. Naegele is an Independent politically; and he is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Law, and Who’s Who in Finance and Business. He has written extensively over the years (see, e.g., www.naegele.com/whats_new.html#articles), and can be contacted directly at tdnaegele.associates@gmail.com

[2]  This article contains personal remembrances of Jerry; and I will not attempt to recount his considerable accomplishments, which are well documented by others.

See, e.g.https://www.google.com/amp/www.latimes.com/business/hollywood/la-me-andrew-jerrold-perenchio-snap-20170524-story,amp.html (“Pioneering media mogul and L.A. philanthropist Jerry Perenchio dies at 86”) and http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/jerry-perenchio-dead-univision-head-hollywood-dealmaker-was-86-970780 (“Jerry Perenchio, Consummate Hollywood Dealmaker and Former Univision Head, Dies at 86”); see also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerry_Perenchio (“Jerry Perenchio”)

[3]  See http://www.naegele.com/documents/TimothyD.NaegeleResume.pdf

[4]  See, e.g.http://www.uncut.co.uk/features/lou-robin-the-cash-s-concert-promoter-37585

[5]  See infra n.3.

[6]  See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2015/01/03/edward-w-brooke-is-dead/ (“Edward W. Brooke Is Dead”)

[7]  See, e.g.https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/phil-stein-85690 (“Phil Stein – Broadway Cast & Staff’)

[8]  As I was racing from the office in Washington to catch the flight to L.A., I accidentally left my favorite suit on top of the car in the parking lot at Dulles Airport in Northern Virginia.  I got to the United Airlines gate and remembered it; and I was told that the flight was leaving, and there was no time to retrieve the suit.  Since Jerry was meeting me at LAX, I left the suit; and no one turned it in while I was gone.

Jerry had a meeting with his “mentor” at the Los Angeles Country Club, to which my father had belonged; and he loaned me his classic Mercedes convertible, and I went into Westwood and bought some pants that I wore the entire trip.

[9]  See, e.g.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_F._Horn (“Alan F. Horn”) and http://variety.com/2017/film/news/alan-horn-jerry-perenchio-tribute-1202446441/ (“Disney’s Alan Horn Remembers His ‘Brilliant Friend’ Jerry Perenchio”)

[10]  See, e..g.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Niño (“El Niño”)

[11]  See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/humor-photography-etc/#comment-8666 (“Naegele House, Malibu”); see also http://www.tgharchitects.com/aboutus/history/founder/ (“William Turnbull Jr.“) and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Turnbull,_Jr. (“William Turnbull, Jr.“)

[12]  See, e.g.https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2014/09/08/the-state-bar-of-california-is-lawless-and-a-travesty-and-should-be-abolished/ (“The State Bar Of California Is Lawless And A Travesty, And Should Be Abolished”) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2013/07/15/justice-and-the-law-do-not-mix/ [and http://www.twill.info/justice-and-the-law-do-not-mix/] (“Justice And The Law Do Not Mix”) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2012/03/21/the-united-states-department-of-injustice/ (“The United States Department of Injustice”) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2011/01/03/the-american-legal-system-is-broken-can-it-be-fixed/ (“The American Legal System Is Broken: Can It Be Fixed?”)

[13]  See infra n.6.





Earthquakes: The Big One Is Coming To At Least Los Angeles

8 09 2010

By Timothy D. Naegele[1]

While the damage from the recent Christchurch earthquake in New Zealand has been enormous, and the costs of rebuilding will be staggering, and the emotional trauma is unfathomable, Kiwis have much to be thankful for after the quake.

Having grown up in Los Angeles, I know that earthquakes are scary, because I lived through probably more than a hundred of them when I was a kid.  They would happen so often that I got used to them and even began to enjoy them.  As long as one has reason to believe in his or her own survival, one can find them interesting.   Our family home was near the UCLA campus in the Westwood suburb of the city; and it was constructed out of wood, so no serious damage ever occurred.

Years later, after working full time in Washington, D.C. for 21 years, I moved back to Southern California and experienced them again.  The first one hit when I was living in a house on the beach at Malibu, which had been built on wood pilings above the sand.  The rocking sensation was accentuated because of the pilings, and it scared me for the very first time.  Later, other quakes have unsettled me—as well as their aftershocks—perhaps because I had lost my fearlessness as a child.

California has experienced major earthquakes all of my life, including the 1989 Loma Prieta quake in the San Francisco Bay Area, which collapsed major roadways and buildings alike.[2] Earlier this year, the devastating earthquake in Haiti killed an estimated 230,000 people.[3] Also, I will never forget the “Spitak Earthquake” that was a tremor with a magnitude of 6.9—less than that of the 7.1 Christchurch quake—which took place on December 7, 1988, in the Spitak region of Armenia, then part of the former Soviet Union.  The earthquake killed at least 25,000 people.[4]

Geologists and earthquake engineering experts laid the blame on poorly-built apartments and other buildings.  However, most of all I remember the quote: “Earthquakes don’t kill people.  Buildings do.”[5] Viewing photos of the damage in and around the Christchurch area on the south island of New Zealand, it seems that so many of the buildings were made out of bricks and other building materials, which could easily fall on people and injure or kill them.[6] Indeed, it is a blessing that there were so few injuries.[7] Buildings can be rebuilt, and roads and other infrastructure elements can be repaired or replaced—which will produce much-needed jobs for Kiwis—but lives cannot be replaced as the Armenians and Haitians learned so tragically.

Another lesson from the quakes is the need for stronger building codes.  Los Angeles has adopted them; however, the steel joints in many high-rise office buildings were apparently weakened by the 1994 Northridge earthquake[8], and nothing has been done to repair them.  To remove tenants from the buildings, while the potentially-critical work is underway, was deemed to be politically and economically unpalatable.  Thus, the problems were swept under the rug and never addressed by building owners and the city’s politicians.  Los Angeles may rue the day that this happened.

Residents of Southern California are waiting for the “Big One” to occur sometime in the future, which geologists have been saying is long overdue.  Predictions are that it will measure more than 8.0 on the Richter Scale, and that approximately 2 million people in Southern California might lose their lives.[9] Thus, Kiwis must be thankful that the Christchurch quake relieved the pressures on the fault; and that while the damage is being measured in the billions of U.S. dollars, so few injuries occurred.

This is truly a blessing, unlike what happened in Armenia and Haiti, or what is being predicted for Southern California and along America’s New Madrid Fault Line—which could result in “the highest economic losses due to a natural disaster in the United States”[10]—and in Pakistan where lives hang in the balance as these words are written, because of massive flooding in that country.[11]

© 2010, Timothy D. Naegele


[1] Timothy D. Naegele was counsel to the United States Senate’s Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, and chief of staff to Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal recipient and former U.S. Senator Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass).  He practices law in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles with his firm, Timothy D. Naegele & Associates, which specializes in Banking and Financial Institutions Law, Internet Law, Litigation and other matters (see www.naegele.com and http://www.naegele.com/naegele_resume.html).  He has an undergraduate degree in economics from UCLA, as well as two law degrees from the School of Law (Boalt Hall), University of California, Berkeley, and from Georgetown University.  He is a member of the District of Columbia and California bars.  He served as a Captain in the U.S. Army, assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon, where he received the Joint Service Commendation Medal.  Mr. Naegele is an Independent politically; and he is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Law, and Who’s Who in Finance and Business. He has written extensively over the years (see, e.g.http://www.naegele.com/whats_new.html#articles), and can be contacted directly at tdnaegele.associates@gmail.com

[2] See, e.g.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1989_Loma_Prieta_earthquake

[3] See, e.g.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010_Haiti_earthquake

[4] See, e.g.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1988_Spitak_earthquake

[5] Similarly, on the last two boats that I owned, I had a plaque placed next to the wheel by which the boats were steered that read: “The sea is not inherently dangerous but it is mercilously unforgiving of human carelessness.”  No accidents occurred, thank God.

[6] See, e.g., http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/image.cfm?c_id=1&gal_cid=1&gallery_id=113693#7075994

[7] See, e.g., http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=10671356

[8] See, e.g., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1994_Northridge_earthquake

[9] See, e.g., http://www.naegele.com/documents/LAEarthquake-80nRichter.pdf and http://www.naegele.com/documents/Sciencemagazinearticle.pdf

[10] See, e.g.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Madrid_Seismic_Zone

[11] See, e.g., http://www.upi.com/Top_News/Analysis/2010/09/03/Commentary-Cry-for-me-Pakistan/UPI-97951283512773/ (“Pakistan is reeling under the most devastating national catastrophe since independence 63 years ago”)