Peter Chernin spoke as part of the English department’s series, “Conversations with Distinguished Alumni” here at UC Berkeley today about his adventures after graduating from this department with a BA back in 1972. At present he is the COO of News Corporation and chairman and CEO of the Fox Group. He spoke with enthusiasm about having the opportunity to bring so much media to the public in so very many different ways. The lecture was being taped and will probably be online so hopefully there will be a link here in a few weeks when it is posted by webcast.berkeley > events.
I have been going to many of these English Department lectures, but this one was a bit special to me because this is a media person who could make the Lifehaven, Earth Ark project take off. I was hesitant to talk to him, and was standing in a small crowd around him in the reception area listening to him talk to some very attractive coeds, and being a gentleman I didn’t want to intrude. This reminded me of what happened a couple of weeks ago with Tim White, and I didn’t get to talk to him because of my reticence. Then suddenly, and totally unexpected by me, he turned to me and held out his hand, and said, my name is Peter Chernin. I said, hello and thanked him for making humanity’s existence better with his work on eliminating malaria and for making my personal life better in so many ways, and that The Simpsons was my favorite show, believing that he is one of the key figures behind that show. I then said something totally outrageous, “The next thing I am going to say is the most important thing you will ever hear!” Whereupon I launched into my two minute Earth Ark lecture, and he and a group of about six students listened, but grew increasingly disturbed. Especially the bit about the possibility of the world having a major war being about fifty percent in the next ten years, and ninety five percent in the next seventy years, which I emphasized was about their life expectancy. That they would probably have to face these problems. This pretty much bummed everyone out because they were not prepared by anything in their lives to think about such things. Let alone have them dropped upon them unexpectedly while having a good time talking, and schmoozing with a handsome, and very successful older man. Mr. Chernin seemed to be willing to listen, but then realizing this was not the proper venue moved on to his other chores, charming the English Majors and possibly finding new talent.
A minute later I said that perhaps a way to garner massive public support would be to have a Simpsons episode based on the Doomsday scenario, and asked him how I would go about submitting an episode. He suggested I contact the Executive producers and gave me a name. Being totally outrageous I asked him to autograph a poster photograph of himself which I had picked up in the hall. He did, and I am going to frame it and hang it on my wall. I forgot to ask him who Homer Simpson was based upon, and will have to ask for Jean Magrone’s forgiveness for that oversight. As I have mentioned before I believe Jean, his daughter and his old girlfriend were the models for the Simpson family.