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Ten years ago, you couldn't open a magazine without finding a profile on

Bob Pittman, the wunderkind who ushered America, and ultimately the world,

into the music video era of MTV.

Mr. Pittman, the executive most universally credited with the creation of

MTV: Music Televsion, as well as sister channels Nickelodeon, Nick at Nite

and VH-1: Video Hits One, was one of the most high-profile media

executives of the mid-1980s.

Today, he's working behind the scenes at some fairly substantial, but

somewhat less glitzy, media enterprises.

Indeed, a search of Advertising Age's electronic database for the past

year produced only three citations for the name Pittman; two were for his

wife, mountain climber Sandy Hill Pittman. The one reference to Mr.

Pittman was as one of the "50 Who Made a Difference" in Ad Age's special

report on "50 Years of TV Advertising."

Mr. Pittman once again is trying to make a difference, this time via

entertainment theme parks. As president-CEO of Time Warner Enterprises,

Mr. Pittman engineered the acquisition of seven Six Flags parks and has

transformed them into the only potentially nationally branded rival to

Walt Disney Co.'s venues.

Part of Mr. Pittman's strategy was an aggressive ad campaign-including

spots featuring Mr. Pittman-that for the first time promoted the seven

parks as a single brand.

Simultaneously, Mr. Pittman negotiated major promotional partnerships

with companies like McDonald's Corp., MasterCard International and General

Mills, and began integrating the parks with some of parent Time Warner's

best known characters and brands.

The strategy transformed Six Flags from a moribund string of second-tier

theme parks into a valuable Time Warner asset.

So it came as some surprise last week when Mr. Pittman was reported to be

negotiating the sale of half of Time Warner's stake in Six Flags, possibly

to a leveraged buyout group in which Mr. Pittman might also be an equity

player. Mr. Pittman wouldn't be interviewed, but Time Warner executives

said the sale is one of many non-core assets the company is looking to

liquidate to raise cash and pay down debts that have been making investors


"He's really looking for his next MTV," said an executive close to Mr.

Pittman. "MTV is a tough act to follow, but so far Bob hasn't found it.

Maybe he thinks he's the next Mike Eisner."


Ten years ago, you couldn't open a magazine without finding a profile on

Bob Pittman, the wunderkind who ushered Ameri

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