Ted Turner Fires His Son, Report Says

A family downsizes for the good of the company

By Marcus Errico Oct 09, 1996 10:00 PMTags
There's nothing like a relaxing meal with the family. Unless, of course, your last name is Turner.

Earlier this summer, the Turner clan gathered at a favorite Atlanta eatery called the Fish Market. According to the Wall Street Journal, Robert E. "Teddy" Turner, son of the cable baron, was chatting with his dad about the future of the company now that it's merging with Time Warner. Teddy was concerned about job security. Specifically, his job security.

"I figured we were fairly safe," the 33-year-old told the Journal, "but I asked, 'What do you think?'"

Ted's reply: "You're toast."

He wasn't referring to dinner.

It turns out Teddy is one of many casualties of the $6.7 billion mega-merger. Time Warner is expected to cut 1,000 jobs by the end of the month, when the deal with Turner is complete. Most of the layoffs will come from Turner's Atlanta operations. Since Time Warner already has Warner Bros. pumping out home videos, the company didn't have much use for Teddy, who was promotions manager for Turner's home video unit.

Teddy even got the standard speech from the elder Turner. "It's good for the company, and it's good for you. In the short run it's always a little painful," Teddy says his father told him. Later in the dinner, however, Ted appeared remorseful. "I fired my own son," he said. Wife Jane Fonda consoled him. Ted Turner's office today would not confirm Teddy's firing and said Ted had no comment on the Journal account.

But don't write off nepotism too soon.

While there's only room for one Ted at Turner, Teddy's sister, Jennie Garlington (a CNN researcher), and Teddy's wife, Leslie (a marketing exec at Turner's Cartoon Network), escaped the fateful meal with their jobs intact.

And don't cry for Teddy yet. According to the younger Turner, his well-connected pop has assured him that "if worse comes to worse, he'll get me a job."