Joanne Hammerman Alter
The start and expansion of a Dynasty
Joanne H Alter (nee Hammerman) 1927 – 2008 was born to a Jewish family in Chicago, Illinois. Her mother Celia K. Hammerman, was an immigrant who fled the riots in Czarist Russia. Her father, Sol Hammerman, worked for J.K. Industries in Chicago, a company that was founded by her grandfather. Sol and his brother, Meyer Hammerman, turned the company into one of the nation’s largest children’s clothing manufacturers.
In 1952, she married James Alter, owner of a refrigeration and air conditioning company who shared her interest in politics. The Alters were one of the most powerful political families in Chicago.
The couple lived in a sprawling Victorian home that hosted countless parties for the lake-front liberal set and visiting politicians, while she kept busy as a “professional volunteer” on local and national issues.
She was an active fundraiser for the Democratic Party. When Martin Luther King came to Chicago in 1966, he attended a fundraiser in Mrs. Alter’s home.
Mayor Harold Washington and Sen’s. Paul Simon and Richard Durbin also stopped in over the years.
Her nephew, Robert S. Rivkin was appointed by President Barack Obama as the 21st General Counsel of the United States Department of Transportation (DOT).
Another nephew, Charles Rivkin, was appointed by President Barack Obama as United States Ambassador to France and then Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs.
James Alter (1922-2014)
They had four children:
1. Influential political journalist and successful author Jonathan Alter. See: https://www.facebook.com/jonathanalter1/posts/626624414017175 , http://jonathanalter.com/ and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Alter
2. Jennifer Alter Warden is chief operating officer and executive vice president of Chicago based, Baird & Warner Real Estate. She oversees marketing, technology and human resources for the $160 million company, which includes 25 offices and 1800 broker associates, along with mortgage and title operations. The Company is the leading independent real estate services company in the Chicago area.
3. Jamie Alter Lynton was a journalist and television news producer and executive for 15 years, working at CNN, CBS and CNBC. She served as a Vice President and Los Angeles Bureau Chief of Court TV, as well as managing its educational division. Since leaving the workforce to devote time to raising her children, she has spearheaded a number of projects in the political and non-profit arena including serving as a regional panelist for the White House Fellows program. She is married to Michael Lynton, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Sony Pictures Entertainment. See : https://www.lafund.org/our-team/jamie-alter-lynton
4. Dr. Harrison Alter is chief executive of The Andrew Levitt Center for Social Emergency Medicine which was created to advance the knowledge base about the interaction of community welfare and the medical care system occurring in the modern emergency department, as well as to promote solutions for those moments when these forces conflict. See: http://levittcenter.org/mission/
Michael Mark Lynton Heritage
Lynton was born in London on January 1, 1960. His Jewish parents, Marion (Sonnenberg) and Mark Lynton, were executives at the Multi-National, Hunter Douglas. PLC (one of the largest companies in the world) based in the Netherlands.
Marion’s father owned the company and it is still in the family control.
Michael’s Jewish grandfather, Max-Otto Ludwig Loewenstein, was born in 1920 in Stuttgart, Germany. The family moved to Berlin two years later when his father was named head of a major German car manufacturing company. But relocated to Holland in 1936 before the start of WW2.
Michael’s father Mark was a student at Cambridge University at the outbreak of WW2. In common with other German nationals he was interned, in Canada for nearly a year. He later enlisted in the British military, where he served with distinction in a tank regiment.
After the war he transferred to work for the British Intelligence, interrogating German officers. The family, (name changed to Lynton) later moved to the United States and lived in Scarsdale, New York, for several years before returning to the Netherlands in 1969.
Michael attended the International School of The Hague and transferred to Phillips Exeter Academy for his senior year, graduating in 1978. He received his BA (history and literature) from Harvard College in 1982.
After several years in finance at Credit Suisse First Boston, he earned an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1987.
He is a citizen of the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom. Lynton speaks four languages: English, French, Dutch and German.
Michael Lynton’s business career
In 1987, Lynton joined The Walt Disney Company, where he started Disney Publishing. He subsequently served as president of Disney’s Hollywood Pictures from 1992 to 1996.
From 1996 to 2000, Lynton was chairman and chief executive officer of Pearson plc’s Penguin Group, extending the Penguin brand to music and the Internet.
In 2000, he joined Time Warner as CEO of AOL Europe, president of AOL International, and president of Time Warner International.
In 2004, Lynton became chairman and chief executive officer of Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE).
He leads SPE’s global operations, including motion pictures, television and digital content production and distribution, as well as home entertainment acquisition and distribution, operation of studio facilities, and the development of new entertainment products, services and technologies.
In April 2012, Sony Corporation announced that Lynton would additionally hold the position of chief executive of Sony Entertainment Inc., along with co-chair Amy Pascal, overseeing all of Sony’s global entertainment businesses, including Sony Music Entertainment, Sony/ATV Music Publishing, and Sony Pictures Entertainment.
He earns in excess of £3milllion annually.
Michael Lynton’s Other Interests
He is a member of the influential “think tank” The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). Founded in 1921, it is a United States 4900-member organization, specializing in U.S. foreign policy and international affairs.
It is headquartered in New York City, with an additional office in Washington, D.C.. Its membership has included senior politicians, more than a dozen secretaries of state, CIA directors, bankers, lawyers, professors, and senior media figures.
It’s mission is to promote globalization, free trade, reducing financial regulations on transnational corporations, and economic consolidation into regional blocs such as NAFTA or the European Union, and developing policy recommendations that reflect these goals. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Council_on_Foreign_Relations
Invited by the Tory government, he undertook a major role in the U.K. Film Policy Review Group, (chaired by former culture secretary Lord Chris Smith) which took exhaustive submissions from all sectors of the industry.
The subsequent report recommended a hike in Lottery money for British film productions “with potential,” as well as developing an export strategy for home grown talent. So, having closed the U.K. Film Council transferring much of its duties to the British Film Institute and Film London, the Tory government is now looking for a positive business spin to buoy the U.K. industry at large.
Chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment Michael Lynton (R) and his wife Jamie Lynton
Jamie Alter and Michael Lynton Back Obama’s Presidential bid expanding the influence of the dynasty
Jamie’s mom, the late Joanne Alter was the first female Democrat elected in Cook County, Illinois. She spotted Obama in 2003 and convinced her daughter to support him.
As a result, Lynton co-hosted an early fundraiser for Obama’s Senate bid in 2004 in addition to hosting a presidential campaign event, when most showbiz types were still supporting Hillary Rodham Clinton.
It’s no surprise therefore that Barack Obama’s closest friends, making up his tightly knit circle, are in the in the entertainment biz but aren’t celebs.
Rather the less glittery financial movers and shakers, (including a number of Obama’s beloved Harvard Law Mafia).
See: http://deadline.com/2008/11/who-are-obamas-real-hollywood-pals-7533/ and http://www.politico.com/story/2008/12/school-buds-20-harvard-classmates-advising-obama-016224 and https://newrepublic.com/article/46839/obamas-harvard-law-mafia
Michael Lynton with Amy Pascal and Jay Sanderson
November 2014: Sony Hacked by Guardians of Peace (GOP)
“Guardians of Peace” hackers using Shamoon malware led to the theft of an estimated 100 terabytes of information, including internal company documents, private e-mail correspondence of around 437,000 people employed by or associated with Sony.
E-mail correspondence (between Sony Pictures co-chair Amy Pascal and producer Scott Rudin) was made public to the embarrassment of both senior executives who subsequently issued formal apologies over their childish email exchanges.
Pascal and colleague Rudin were noted to have had an email exchange about Pascal’s upcoming encounter with Michael Lynton’s friend, President Barack Obama that included characterizations such as use of the word n***** that could be seen as racist.
Pascal later apologized but her employment contract was not renewed.
Jamie Lynton and Michael Lynton
A judge later ruled that Sony must provide protection for anyone adversely affected by the unauthorised release of information..
30 December 2014: New Research Blames Insiders, Not North Korea, for Sony Hack
A leading cyber security firm says it has evidence that contradicts the government’s allegation that North Korea was behind the debilitating cyber attacks against Sony Pictures.
Researchers from the firm Norse told Security Ledger, an independent security news website, that they believe that a group of six individuals orchestrated the hack, including at least one former employee who was laid off in company-wide restructuring in May.
The latest allegations add to growing scepticism over the FBI’s assertion — reiterated by President Barack Obama — that linked North Korea to the attack, which the country has denied. A recent linguistic analysis cited in the New York Times found that the hackers’ language in threats against Sony was written by a native Russian speaker and not a native Korean speaker.
2 January 2015: U.S. Sanctions North Korea Over Sony Hack
The United States is imposing sanctions on North Korea following last year’s devastating hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment, the White House said Friday, calling them the “first aspect of our response” to the cyberattack.
President Barack Obama signed an executive order Friday authorizing additional actions against the North Korean government following the November cyberattack, which U.S. government agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, have pinned on the isolated country’s government.
15 January 2015: John McAfee: ‘I know who hacked Sony Pictures – and it wasn’t North Korea’
Anti-virus pioneer John McAfee claims to have been in contact with the group of hackers behind the devastating cyber-attack against Sony Pictures and guarantees they are not from North Korea.
Speaking to IBTimes UK about his current roster of security start-ups under his Future Tense brand – including secure messaging app Chadder – McAfee spoke about working with the FBI previously but said that, in this case, the agency was “wrong”. “I can guarantee they are wrong.
It has to do with a group of hackers – I will not name them – who are civil libertarians and who hate the confinement the restrictions the music industry and the movie industry has placed on art and so they are behind it.”
David Macmillan (L) and Bella Pollen
Bella Pollen and David Macmillan (The Sir Harold Macmillan “Supermac” Dynasty)
David’s father, Maurice Victor Macmillan, (Viscount Macmillan of Ovenden PC) 1921–1984 was a British Conservative Party politician, Member of Parliament and like his father Earl (Harold) Macmillan, (Prime Minister and leader of the Tory party) he was Chairman of Macmillan Publishers.
David is not in politics. He is a Director of Macmillan Press, (part of the largest multi national publishing company in the world).
Arabella is the daughter of Peregrine Michael Hungerford Pollen, a peer and former chairman of Sotherby’s, New York (the largest multi national auction house in the world). Born in Oxford, she was raised in Manhattan.
In 1981, Pollen founded the eponymous design company Arabella Pollen, described by The Independent as: “designer of crisp, colourful clothes for the young social set”. Among her private clients were Diana, Princess of Wales, Margaux Hemingway and Marianne Faithfull. Between 1981 and 1994, the company was nominated for eleven major fashion awards.
In 1984, Arabella Pollen won the contract to design staff uniforms for the newly launched Virgin Atlantic Airways and created suits in the ‘Virgin Red’ that is still the airline’s signature colour.
In 1990, Courtaulds acquired a minority share in the company, later increasing this to a majority stake. Arabella Pollen closed in 1994, following Courtaulds’ purchase of the company. Pollen continued to advise the textile giant as a design consultant.
In 1995, Pollen became a writer, working as Bella Pollen. Her third book, Hunting Unicorns, became a best seller in 2004. Midnight Cactus (2007) was sold to Paramount Pictures. Summer of the Bear (2011) was an Oprah summer pick and a Richard and Judy best summer read. Pollen has contributed to numerous magazines and newspapers including The Times, Daily Telegraph, The Spectator, The Observer and Vogue.
Pollen’s first marriage was to art dealer Giacomo Dante Algranti in 1985, with whom she had two children, Jesse and Samuel.
In 1995, she married David Macmillan, the grandson of former Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, and director of the book publisher, Macmillan Publishers.
The couple have two children, Finn and Mabel. They voted one of the top 50 power couples in 2013.
18 April 2015: Who runs this world? Sony Pictures CEO Michael Lynton jokes suggests getting UK culture minister fired and replacing him with a former PM’s grandson
Lynton mulled pulling strings to get UK culture minister Ed Vaizey fired to replace him with the grandson of former prime minister Harold MacMillan.
Vaizey, a democratically elected Tory moderniser, oversaw “digital industries” for Britain’s Coalition government – from broadband to copyright shake ups. He was comfortably re-elected in 2010, and slotted into the Ministry of Fun by Prime Minister David Cameron.
The revelation that Sony’s powerful Lynton wanted shot of Vaizey emerged fresh from the mountain of emails and documents leaked from Sony Pictures by hackers, all of which were bunged into a searchable online database by WikiLeaks this week.
Lynton was sharing breakfast with Bella Pollen – a UK socialite, journalist, and novelist – in Los Angeles in August last year when he fired off an email to her husband David MacMillan, publisher and grandson of former Prime Minister Harold MacMillan, that read:
“I am sitting here with Bella and conspiring as to how to make you Minister of Culture and Sport. You are perfectly qualified. First step is to get Ed Vaizey fired. I will do this with George Osborne. Next step is to get you appointed. This requires you meeting Charles Dunstone, (chairman of Carphone Warehouse and a big contributor to the Conservative Party) and having him recommend you. I will make the introduction in September. The games afoot !!!
Two hours later, MacMillan, in the UK at the time, responded:
Need to be elected to parliament or raised to the peerage to proceed further with your plan, but love the idea. Like all being in Charles Dunston’s gift, think Osborne will be fearful of Vaizey as he wishes to avoid the publication of various school time photos … or maybe he feels comfortable with his past. Lynton shot back: “Your MP is 70. Time for him to move on. Photos are in the cloud. They will be gone soon.”
The photographic evidence MacMillan mentioned was quite possibly a reference to an infamous snap taken in 1994 of a 22-year-old George Osborne with his arm around his pal Natalie Rowe.
In 2013, she published an autobiography describing her time as a dominatrix, and had her home raided by the UK plod after tweeting tatty photos, dating back to the 1990s, of Osborne at a party.
26 July 2013: Scottish cash to back US sci-fi series Outlander
The arts body Creative Scotland is to help fund a major US science fiction series to be filmed in Scotland.
Outlander tells the story of Claire and James Fraser, using time travel to slip between 18th and 20th Century Scotland.
The US cable network Starz and Sony Pictures Television will begin shooting Outlander later this year. Part of their plans include building a new television studio and production base at Cumbernauld, North Lanarkshire.
Creative Scotland will provide the production companies with financial support towards their shooting and studio costs. The arts body is also helping the producers to identify locations and studio space for the series.
It is believed a UK distribution deal is being negotiated with Sony for showing in the summer of 2014.
The level of support they will receive is still subject to negotiation but First Minister Alex Salmond said: “This announcement… is a wonderful endorsement of the scenery, talent and facilities on offer to film crews in this country. We have huge potential to make Scotland a major centre for film production, but competition is fierce and bodies such as Creative Scotland are doing all they can to ensure that some of the most high-profile screen productions are attracted to Scotland, bringing industry jobs and securing incredible, money-can’t-buy exposure for our breathtaking scenery.”
As well as employing a local crew of about 200, an estimated 2,400 supporting roles are expected to be cast from within Scotland and the rest of the UK during the filming of the series.
Mr Salmond added: “This announcement, which could see a crew of around 200 assembled and an estimated spend of £20m in Scotland, is a wonderful endorsement of the scenery, talent and facilities on offer to film crews in this country, and I can’t wait to see some distinctly Scottish locations on screen.”
December 2014: Outlander TV Series Cancelled After Just One Season – The spoiler source Sony?
Outlander, a new Starz network TV series based on the New York Times bestselling Outlander novels by Diana Gabaldon, is set to cancel after only its first season. The show aired for the first time on August 9th, 2014 but, due to budgeting issues, was forced to to take a six month long mid-season break. This, among other issues, spelled the untimely end for this ill- fated program.
Gabaldon’s Outlander is a dramatic historical love story about WWII combat nurse, Claire Randall.
Previously separated by the war, Claire and her husband Frank decide to reconnect on a second honeymoon in the Scottish Highlands. While there, Claire stumbles upon a mysterious circle of standing stones… And suddenly finds herself in the middle of the eighteenth century where she falls madly in love with Jamie Fraser, a young clansman.
For over two decades, this book has been a favourite with readers of science fiction, adventure, historical fiction, and romance. Over this twenty year time period, Gabaldon rejected numerous offers to bring her famous books to the big screen. An offer from Starz to produce a television series was eventually accepted by the author, and production began shortly thereafter.
Only two months into the six month long mid season break, a lengthy list of problems related to the show and its production began to surface. One major issue was that the actors bore little to no resemblance to the cherished characters portrayed in the novels. The MacKenzie brothers were much too old, Claire had the wrong eye color and Jamie, the book’s hero, didn’t have hair that was red enough to please fans.
Although the series was originally offered a second season, the network came to the realization that the show was much too costly to produce. Season two, which would have been based on the second book in the series, would have forced the show to film in Scotland, France and the United States. The third season would have taken them even farther afield.
“There are nine novels in this series,” said one production assistant. “At the rate we’re going, the entire series will take over a decade to produce. TV watchers just don’t have that kind of attention span. Plus, with all the special effects, period wardrobes, makeup and travel, the cost of production is simply unsupportable.”
Although many fans will be disappointed to see this short- lived series come to an end, there are plenty of fans who are almost relieved that it’s over. This change makes room for more exciting programs in the Starz lineup, and gives director Ronald D. Moore the time to work on other, more important projects. It is hoped that author Diana Gabaldon will be offered another chance to bring Outlander to the silver screen.
See: http://nationalreport.net/outlander-tv-series-canceled-one-season/#comments and https://twitter.com/Writer_DG/status/545492293244170240
9 December 2014: The Best New TV Shows of 2014 – Outlander
Starz’s adaptation of a popular book series, about a headstrong nurse who is transported back in time from the post-war 1940s to 18th-century Scotland, was a dicey proposition.
Not only did the show have to satisfy the books’ more than passionate fan base, but it had to appeal to a larger audience with a multi-genre show that could finally put Starz on the scripted-programming map alongside some of its premium-cable brethren.
The first season technically isn’t over—the second half begins its run in April, (a strange, possibly hobbling decision made for mysterious reasons.) But from what I’ve seen, Outlander is Starz’s biggest creative success yet, a sharply acted, thoughtfully written series that is a political drama and a super-sexy romance, a mystical mystery and an empowerment tale.
It’s an odd mix of tones and styles, but it all fuses together rather well. Points especially to the fabulously named Caitriona Balfe, who plays our heroine with depth and wit, and to Sam Heughan for, y’know, that whole business.
4 April 2015: Outlander star Heughan speaks about his disappointment at ‘No’ vote in Indyref
The star of the Outlander TV series, Sam Heughan, has spoken of his support for Scottish independence and his disappointment at the result of the recent referendum.
Heughan, who plays the key role of Jamie Fraser in the US series, which has recently become available to viewers in Scotland on the Amazon Prime streaming service, said that initially he was not a supporter of Scotland leaving the UK. However, he soon became “very much for Yes”, he has told the Wall Street Journal.
In an online video interview he said: “When I first heard about the arguments I very much thought it wasn’t a great idea but just having spent some time there and discussing it more, I thought it was a chance for more democracy in Scotland.” The actor, from Dumfries and Galloway, added: “It just seemed that the people of Scotland would have more control over what happened to them, unfortunately the vote went the other way, it was pretty close. “But it has got people involved in politics again.”
His co-star, Tobias Menzies, who is English, was also asked about the independence referendum. Menzies, who plays both Frank Randall and Black Jack Randall, said he was conflicted about the vote as he felt Britain would be “lesser without Scotland”.
However he said spending many weeks in Scotland last year “it was hard not the feel the excitement and by the end I could really feel the disappointment…I am sure it will be a decision that will be revisited in the future.”
20 April 2015: UK Government delayed TV show Outlander due to independence referendum
Television drama Outlander was delayed due to pressure from the UK Government prior to Scotland’s independence referendum.
A leaked email detailing a meeting between UK Prime Minister David Cameron and top Sony officials has fuelled further claims that the show was delayed due to political fears surrounding the independence referendum.
Lots of ugly things crawled out of Sony Pictures Entertainment’s e-mails leaked by hackers in the autumn of 2014. Keith Weaver, executive vice president of Sony Pictures, contacted Michael Lynton, chief executive of Sony, and Andrea Wong, Sony’s president of international production, on 28 June 2014.
Weaver wrote that their meeting with Cameron would have “special emphasis” on “the importance of Outlander (i.e., particularly vis-a-vis the political issues in the U.K. as Scotland contemplates detachment this Fall)”.
The email was part of a leak of over 173,000 private Sony emails by the transparency group Wikileaks.
20 April 2015: Leaked Sony emails show TV chiefs discussing political “importance” of Outlander to indyref
The “importance” of the US television drama Outlander to the political atmosphere of last year’s Independence Referendum was highlighted by key TV executives before a meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron.
In a cache of leaked memos from the Sony organisation obtained by Wikileaks, an email written by Keith E. Weaver, executive vice president at Sony Pictures Entertainment, which produces Outlander, discusses a meeting with the Prime Minister last summer.
The Sony email mentions the “importance” of the TV series to the political situation last year, and how it would likely be a “focus” of the meeting with Cameron.
Publication of the leaked email has further fuelled social media speculation that the UK Government did not want the show broadcast before the independence vote in September.
An Outlander insider, with intimate knowledge of the show, said: “It makes complete sense as to why Sony took their foot off the pedal with UK sales. “It was all systems go and they had the BBC up to see the set, etc, then there was a definite sense of trying to back pedal.”
In the background briefing document for a “PM Cameron event” last summer, Mr Weaver wrote to other Sony executives: “Your meeting with Prime Minister Cameron on Monday will likely focus on our overall investment in the U.K. – with special emphasis on the importance of Outlander (i.e., particularly vis-a-vis the political issues in the U.K. as Scotland contemplates detachment this Fall), and the growth of our channels business…”
Outlander, based on the best selling books by Diana Gabaldon and shot in Scotland, was finally broadcast in the UK this year, well after other countries, some who saw the show last August. It is now viewable on the Amazon Prime streaming system.
At last year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival, the author Diana Gabaldon speculated on why the UK broadcast of the series had apparently been delayed and she mentioned the rumours linked to the independence referendum.
She said: “They are in fact negotiating with one or more UK TV suppliers. Why that deal has not come to a conclusion, I don’t know, they have been at it for three months at least. There has been talk and rumour and speculation, even though there is no evidence on which to speculate, but the most common rumour is they are waiting until after the Scottish referendum – but there is no evidence to suggest that is true. You can take that for what it’s worth.”
4 May 2015: Which brings us to the matter of STARZ’ cable series, Outlander, and UK Prime Minister David Cameron‘s government.
In 2013, STARZ network ordered the 16-episode adaptation of bestselling historical fiction novel, Outlander by author Diana Gabaldon, from production companies Tall Ship Productions, Story Mining & Supply Co., and Left Bank Productions, in association with the copyright holder, Sony Pictures Television.
While STARZ was the U.S. distributor, offering the series on its own cable network, SPE’s TV arm handled overseas distribution to broadcast, cable, and video streaming services.
Outlander’s cross-genre narrative is set mainly in 1740s Scotland; the story is sympathetic to a Scottish protagonist and his time-travelling English wife who are caught between the British and Jacobites in the ramp up to the 1746 Battle at Culloden. The Scottish people and countryside are treated favourably in the series’ production.
The program debuted on STARZ in the U.S. on 9 August 9 2014 — a little less than six weeks before Scotland’s independence referendum (“IndyRef”).
Outlander began airing in Canada and Australia in August 2014 also, and in October 2014 in Ireland, after the IndyRef vote.
Distribution deals in other countries including Germany, Hungary, Japan, and the Netherlands led to wider release overseas in 2014.