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Let's Be Frank
Integrity. Kindness. Hard work. Substance and value. Are these the words that describe a media mogul? They are when it’s the late Frank Biondi, the former CEO of HBO, Universal Studios, and Viacom, who leaves a legacy far beyond the movies and TV you love. Through Frank’s example, we can learn how to make good relationships alongside great deals, earn respect while earning multi-million dollar returns, and maintain character even when surrounded by an industry full of characters. Let’s Be Frank began in the final years of Frank Biondi’s life as he recorded the story of his career while fighting stage-four cancer, a battle he sadly lost in 2019. His daughter, Jane Biondi Munna, compiled his words—along with recollections from media industry luminaries Peter Chernin, Tom Freston, Alan Horn, Sherry Lansing, Alan Schwartz, and more—so that we can all draw inspiration from Frank Biondi’s remarkable business acumen and management style and channel our inner Frank as we navigate life’s challenges and opportunities.
Media mogul Frank Biondi and his daughter, Jane Biondi Munna, recount his professional years as the CEO of heavyweights like HBO, Universal, and Viacom over a 40-year career span in this fascinating memoir. Biondi began penning his story when diagnosed with stage-four cancer, a battle he sadly lost in 2019, prompting his daughter to take up the mantle and complete his unfinished work. Drawing from anecdotes and interviews with Biondi and other major players, Munna puts the finishing touches on a dynamic life in the entertainment and media industry.

The narrative unfolds as more of an oral history than a memoir, covering everything from Biondi’s first stint as an investment banker for one of the earliest emerging cable networks to being hired—and eventually fired—as the CEO of the sprawling media empire that was Viacom. The end result is an anecdotal, and highly entertaining, peek into the innards of a glamorous industry, alongside a spotlight of the man driving many of the financial and business forces behind it. Munna acknowledges the bulk of Biondi’s recollections take place during the 1970s, ‘80s, and ‘90s—a world away from today’s media—but points out that the underlying challenges are eerily similar.

Several chapters are built around Biondi—or Munna’s—learning moments, such as Biondi’s ambition to “do the right thing whether or not anyone was watching,” which feels pedantic in places, but the subject matter quickly reverts to more entertaining line-ups. The stories of Biondi’s work on well-known films—think Star Wars, When Harry Met Sally, Forrest Gump, and more—is absorbing, with amusing tidbits like Biondi’s marketing ideas for the hit movie Babe: “We could roll out Babe roller coasters at Universal Theme Park, Babe stuffed animals, Babe lunch boxes.” Hollywood fans, and those interested in the business behind it, will give this a standing ovation.

Takeaway: An insider’s view of the business—and glamor—driving Hollywood.

Great for fans of: A Story Lately Told by Anjelica Huston; What Just Happened? by Art Linson.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: NA
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A