Family & Companions
As the privileged scion of the billionaire Bronfmans and one of the three most prominent "Our Crowd" Jewish-American families on his mother's side, Edgar Bronfman Jr had to struggle to prove he was more than a show business dilettante. He chose to skip college to pursue a career as a songwriter and film producer
In the early 1970s, estranged from his father after the breakup of his parents marriage, Bronfman moved to London to work with producer David Puttnam on two films before striking out on his own as producer with the unsuccessful "The Blockhouse" (1973), a depressing story of men trapped in an underground bunker on D-Day.
Bronfman returned to the US in 1975 when his older brother, Samuel, was kidnapped and held for ransom for nine days. The estrangement between father and son continued throughout the 70s, exacerbated by Bronfman's interracial marriage to actress Sherry Brewer. During this period, he continued to pursue producing opportunities and wrote several songs (under the pseudonym Junior Miles) with his collaborator, Bruce Roberts, including "Whisper in the Dark," recorded by Dionne Warwick.
In 1982, Bronfman produced his first major Hollywood film, "The Border," featuring Jack Nicholson and Valerie Perrine. The film earned critical praise, but audiences did not flock to see it. The New York premiere, however, reunited father and son, eventually leading to a reconciliation and Bronfman's decision to abandon film producing in favor of joining the family business. After serving apprenticeships in London and New York, he succeeded his father as president of Seagram Company, Ltd. in 1989. He began to diversify the family holdings outside the liquor business by purchasing Tropicana and acquiring close to a fifteen percent interest in Time Warner.
As part of his long-range diversification plans, Bronfman attempted to begin talks with Time Warner but was rebuffed by its management. Sensing an opportunity with MCA, he traveled alone to Japan in March 1995 to discuss the possibilities of Seagram's purchase with Yoichi Morishita, the president of Matsushita. The negotiations for the sale were concluded in less than forty-eight hours and within two weeks, a formal announcement was made. Immediate speculation on who would be appointed as president led to rumors that Michael Ovitz of CAA was the front-runner. In early June, it became apparent that discussions between Bronfman and Ovitz had collapsed. DreamWorks SKG and MCA announced a long-term agreement for Universal to distribute the production company's film, music, and home video products outside the US, Canada and Korea. In July, it was announced that Ron Meyer, Ovitz's number two man at CAA, would assume the presidency at MCA.
Produced first film "The Blockhouse"
Began songwriting career, often collaborating with Bruce Roberts under the pseudonym Junior Miles
Broadway producing debut, "Ladies of the Alamo" by Paul Zindel
Produced first Hollywood film "The Border"
Joined Seagram Company, Ltd., the family-owned producer and marketer of distilled spirits and beverages
Became president of Seagram Company
Added title CEO of Seagram Company
Negotiated purchase of MCA Inc. from Matsushita
Became president and CEO of MCA Inc.
Entered into distribution deal with DreamWorks SKG
Sold Universal TV assets to Barry Diller for $4 billion
Reorganized Seagram's holdings; creating three divisions: beverages, music and film, theme parks and international TV
Oversaw sale of Seagram to the French conglomorate Vivendi
In December, announced he was stepping down from an executive capacity at Vivendi Universal effective in the first quarter of 2002; remained as vice chair of the board
Joined producing team of the Broadway-bound musical "Never Gonna Dance"