Cover image for The billion dollar BET : Robert Johnson and the inside story of Black Entertainment Television
The billion dollar BET : Robert Johnson and the inside story of Black Entertainment Television
Pulley, Brett.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Hoboken, N.J. : John Wiley & Sons, [2004]

Physical Description:
viii, 248 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
General Note:
"Published simultaneously in Canada."
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HE8700.8 .P85 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Praise for The Billion Dollar BET

"In a gripping narrative that is both inspirational and cautionary, Brett Pulley tells us how Robert Johnson built Black Entertainment Television into a billion-dollar media empire. In a remarkable feat of reporting, without Johnson's cooperation, Pulley shows what it really takes to get ahead in America today, and in doing so provides as valuable a cultural as business history."
--James B. Stewart Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and bestselling author of DisneyWar, Den of Thieves, and Heart of a Soldier

"Like or dislike? Agree or disagree? Bob Johnson's richly varied and fascinating life presses you against the window that Brett Pulley opens widely."
--Bernard Shaw retired CNN anchor

"Through his BET network, Bob Johnson reached the pinnacle of capitalism, the billionaire boys club, in the spirit of legions of driven, American moguls . . . Veteran business journalist Brett Pulley peels back the layers of this fascinating and complex entrepreneur."
--Teri Agins Senior Special Writer, the Wall Street Journal, and author of The End of Fashion: How Marketing Changed the Clothing Business Forever

Author Notes

Brett Pulley is a senior editor at Forbes magazine, where he writes primarily about the media and entertainment industries

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Against overwhelming odds, BET founder Robert Johnson blasted through social and economic barriers using his intelligence and charm, first establishing himself in the realm of Washington politics and later in the media business. One might think his rags-to-riches story would be incredibly uplifting. But in this unauthorized biography, Pulley (a senior editor at Forbes and well-known expert on the business of entertainment) reports that Johnson's methods were anything but noble. Though he created the first black-owned and -operated cable company, Pulley says, Johnson had little interest in raising the quality of the programming that BET offered to the black community, despite that community's loyalty to his channel. (In Canada, blacks even lobbied to have BET carried on their cable systems.) From the very start, Pulley argues, Johnson's goal was to become a billionaire, period. And he realized his dream when he sold his company to Viacom in 1999. Along the way he shed friends, associates and even family members who ceased to be useful in carrying out his business plans, Pulley says, and he also refused to compensate (or even to thank) many of those who helped him in moving forward, including the man who gave him the business plan that he used to find his original investors. Pulley's research in this volume is quite impressive; he interviewed all of Johnson's most important BET colleagues. And though his prose occasionally leans towards the purple, overall the book is written in a clean, easy-to-follow style. His eye-opening biography will make many readers view Johnson in a new way, and may leave some hoping that there is another side to this cynical story. (Apr.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Table of Contents

Prologue: "Bootylicious"p. 1
1 The Other Side of the Tracksp. 9
2 Access to Powerp. 24
3 "White Man, Can You Spare Half a Million?"p. 38
4 Reverend Eldoradop. 51
5 Country Boy Charm, Predator's Heartp. 64
6 The Familyp. 80
7 "BET in the House"p. 92
8 Shakin' It ... Smackin' Itp. 106
9 "Tired Ol'Reruns"p. 116
10 Wealth and Powerp. 137
11 The Black Disneyp. 155
12 Costly Affairsp. 169
13 "Sellout!"p. 186
14 He Got Gamep. 206
Epilogue: One Nation Under a Groovep. 220
Acknowledgmentsp. 226
Notesp. 229
Bibliographyp. 237
Indexp. 241