Philip Anschutz: The Billionaire Who Puts the 'A' in AEG

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Two years ago today, the single "This is It" by Michael Jackson was released in forward promotion of the concert documentary of the same name. The film gave audiences a glimpse into the King of Pop's comeback tour, and went on to become the highest grossing ever in its genre. Jackson's death, which til now dominates our TV sets via Dr. Conrad Murray's trial, made concert promoter AEG more of a household name than it already was. But how many people know what the "A" in the acronym stands for?

In this month's edition of Zmagazine, the media recluse billionaire Philip Anschutz is subject of Bill Berkowitz's "Conservative Watch" column. Noted by Forbes in 2010 as the 34th richest person in the U.S.-- the richest person in all of Colorado --the mogul amasses his more than $7 billion dollars in wealth through a number of enterprises including Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG).

In "The Chronicles of Christian Billionaire Philip Anschutz," (unavailable online, except for an earlier blog version here) Berkowitz lists his important business ventures from owning conservative media outlets such as Weekly Standard and the Examiner to holding stakes in LA sports teams including the Lakers, Galaxy and Kings. Of course, AEG has a competing bid to lure an NFL team back to Los Angeles through its 1.2 billion proposal for the construction of Farmers Field in the city's downtown.

For local music lovers, "AEG's concert division...promotes tours for pop stars like Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber and Jon Bon Jovi," Berkowitz writes citing Anschutz's control through the company of 120 venues worldwide including the Staples Center and Nokia Theater situated in the LA Live complex.

So what does the billionaire do with his piles of cash? The article goes on to note that according to newsmeat.com, he has given over half-a-million dollars to political candidates and causes including $223,000 to Republican committees and candidates--including former Congressman and arch-Know Nothing Tom Tancredo alone. With a Christian conservative agenda, he has supported a Colorado ballot initiative seeking to roll back gay rights in the state and helped fund the Intelligent Design peddling Discovery Institute in Seattle, Washington among other activities.

Concluding with a forehead slap, Berkowitz writes that Anschutz also owns Regal Entertainment Group, the same major movie theater chain I unknowingly lauded for its "Value Days" promotion that offers easy ticket prices in these harsh economic times. D'oh!

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