LOS ANGELES, March 23 — Entertainment mogul Haim Saban, creator of the Power Rangers empire, was honoured yesterday for services to television, and used the occasion to berate President Donald Trump for his immigration policies.
The 62-year-old Israeli-American billionaire, who turned the teen superhero franchise into one of the longest-running children’s shows of all time, was receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame when his thoughts turned to Trump.
“I’m heartbroken (at) the breaking up of families, the way it’s happening right now,” he told AFP of the president’s crackdown on undocumented migrants and court-challenged 90-day ban on entry to the United States by people from six Muslim-majority countries.
“It’s a very saddening thing, it’s not who we are as Americans. We are not that.”
Saban, a father of four children and native of Alexandria, Egypt, moved to Israel when he was 12, attending agricultural school, serving in the Israeli Defense Forces and building a tour promotion business.
He moved to France in 1975 where he began his media career, before relocating to Los Angeles in the late 1980s and creating Saban Entertainment, a producer and distributor of television programs.
“From playing bass guitar in a covers band in Israel... to my various partnerships with media companies, investment companies, governments et cetera all over the world, I’ve been extremely lucky,” Saban told fans on Hollywood Boulevard.
“None of it is — was — ever taken for granted. Au contraire, I count my blessings every day for a great America.”
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers — a television series first shown in 1993 and now airing on Nickelodeon — spawned one of the top-selling action toy lines in the United States and a US$105 million (RM464.89 million) Power Rangers movie is due to be released today.
In 1995 Saban merged his company with the “Fox Kids” unit of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., giving his programs more global distribution.
When the Fox Family channel was sold to Disney in 2001, Saban pocketed some US$1.7 billion and began his Saban Capital Group, a private equity firm specializing in media and entertainment.
Forbes Magazine ranked Saban as the 660th richest person in the world on Monday, with a net worth of some US$3 billion.
Multi-millionaire music producer and American Idol judge Simon Cowell, who has worked with Saban on various projects over the years, described how he felt honoured to have the mogul as a friend and business colleague.
“He’s scary — he taught me how to be scary — but he is the most loyal person,” 57-year-old Cowell said. — AFP