4 May 2007

Where Is Wendi Deng Murdoch's Wolf?

Somebody at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory wants to know more about Rupert Murdoch's wife, Wendi Deng, and her old affair with a guy named David Wolf.

A man by that name is listed as a former lover in Wendi Deng's wikipedia entry:
Within months of this marriage, Jake kicked Deng out after finding out she had been seeing a man in his 20's, David Wolf (who later went on to become a PR executive at Burston-Marsteller).
Wolf is now President and CEO of Wolf Group Asia, Ltd. He even has his own blog! It's called Silicon Hutong. Here's a taste:
China Can Live Without Hollywood...

First of all, as Mr. Glickman himself noted, any sort of organized, multilateral action on the part of the major studios would likely be viewed by U.S. regulators as a violation of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. So coordinated unified action is out.

And any non-coordinated unity of action is highly unlikely. Apart from the fact that Iger, Parsons, Stringer, Redstone, Murdoch, and Zucker don't like each other any more than Disney, Warner, Zukor, Mayer, Cohn, Fox, and Laemmle did at the height of the studio system, each company knows that the departure of one would be to the advantage of another. If there are only so many slots each year, one guy walking away means more slots for someone else.
How could Wendi ever have walked away from hot talk like that??? Heh.

Here's David Wolf's corporate profile:
David Wolf is President and Chief Executive Officer of Wolf Group Asia (WGA), a Beijing-based corporate advisory firm. David has a broad range of government relations, strategic counsel, and market-entry management experience throughout Greater China and Asia, in both advisory and enterprise management capacities. His advisory work has focused on government relations, market entry, issues management, scenario planning, market assessment, and strategic advice on business in China at the CEO and Regional MD level. In addition, David is regularly called upon by regional and global media as a commentator on the technology industry and on business in China, and he serves on the Editorial Advisory Board of China Economic Quarterly, and the advisory board of mobile media company 21Communications of Shanghai.

David's clients reflect WGA's systemic approach to the technology, media and telecommunications industries, one which sees the continuity of interests among firms engaged in technology development, equipment manufacturing, content, software, and services. David serves as an advisor to Motorola, Hewlett-Packard, Young & Rubicam Brands, and Foxconn, among others.

Before starting WGA in 2005, David led Burson-Marsteller's Asia-Pacific Technology Practice, B-M's largest practice area in the region and leading a team of nearly 50 professionals in offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Seoul, Tokyo, Singapore, and Sydney. David took the Asia-Pacific post after having founded B-M's Technology Practice in China in 2000, growing it into China's largest technology, media, and telecommunications public relations organization and winning a dozen major industry awards for client work.

Prior to joining Burson-Marsteller, David was Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer of Claydon Gescher Associates (CGA), a boutique strategy and public affairs consultancy based in Beijing with a focus on media, entertainment, and telecommunications. He was responsible for daily operations and long-term growth planning. Clients served include Intel, HBO Asia, Reuters, DeBeers/Stockdale, PanAmSat, Turner International, and Irdeto Access.

David's position prior to CGA was Managing Director in China for TV Shopping Network Ltd. of Australia. Originally hired as a consultant to design a market entry strategy and operations plan, the company appointed David soon after to undertake the effort. Within 90 days of plan approval David had launched the 24-hour satellite service in China, with cable-TV affiliates, a telephone center, and the necessary payment and delivery infrastructure to deliver orders within 72 hours to any major city in China. By the time of his departure from TVSN, David had arranged distribution to 11 million cable TV homes in 12 provinces, built a state-of-the-art fulfillment facility in Guangdong with a call center, warehouse, and 60 full-time staff processing thousands of orders each week.

David has lived in China since 1995 and currently resides in Beijing with his family. David holds a Masters degree in International Management from Thunderbird, the Garvin School of International Management, and a Bachelor's degree in International Relations from the University of California, Davis. In addition to English, he is fluent in Mandarin and Spanish. David is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) (Computer Society, Standards Association, and Professional Communications Society), and is a PADI-certified Rescue Scuba Diver. He maintains a weblog at www.siliconhutong.com.
Sounds like the sort of person an up-and-coming Chinese media magnate might want to spend some time with, doesn't he?

Interestingly, given my opening para, the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab is operated by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energy. Deng originally came from China to the U.S.A. with the aid of a California couple, Jake and Joyce Cherry. In fact, she broke up their marriage, and then married Mr Cherry in 1990. I wonder where Mr Cherry is working now?

Here's some other less cutting-edge stuff, for anyone interested in this story. First, a photo of Wendi with George W. Bush and the rest of the gang, from a White House dinner for Australian PM John Howard (May 16, 2006).

Notice how Bush is leaning away from Howard and close to Wendi? What's THAT all about???

And here's a reprint of an old UK Telegraph story, which in turn is reporting on an old Wendi Deng story from - can you believe it? - the Wall Street Journal (see below) which Murdoch just happens to be trying to buy now! So much for good friends in the media industry! This story provides more background on what I have already said above, plus more:
How Murdoch's wife won her ticket to America

By Tom Leonard
Last Updated: 2:11pm BST 19/06/2001

THE media tycoon Rupert Murdoch got a taste of his newspapers' own medicine yesterday when the Wall Street Journal published an investigation into the tangled romantic history of his wife, Wendi Deng.

The world's driest and least sensational newspaper published what appeared to be an expose of the private history of Miss Deng, 31, who married Mr Murdoch last year. It was the work of a team of its reporters working in Los Angeles, Beijing and Singapore, and was worthy of the News of the World.

The newspaper, which tracked down former boyfriends and a jilted wife in the course of its inquiries, said she "has come a long way since leaving China a dozen years ago". An authoritative spokesman for News Corp told The Telegraph last night that the Journal's story was "malicious nonsense".

The newspaper claimed that she had rewarded an American woman who helped her to get out of China by running off with her 53-year-old husband. Miss Deng, then 21, subsequently married the man but four months later he allegedly told her to leave on the grounds that she was seeing another man less than half his age.

Although the marriage officially lasted more than two years - long enough, the newspaper said, for Miss Deng to get a "green card" allowing her to stay permanently in America - her former husband claimed that they only lived together for four or five months.

Miss Deng began appearing at Mr Murdoch's side two years ago, having earned an MBA from Yale and joined the Murdoch-owned Star TV as an intern in 1996. She has never spoken in the press about her background.

The newspaper reported that she was born Deng Wen Di in the eastern Chinese city of Xuzhou, the daughter of the director of a machinery factory. She was a "good student" and "champion volley ball player" who enrolled at Guangzhou medical college at the age of 16.

In 1987 she gained her "ticket out of China" when she met an American couple from Los Angeles, Jake and Joyce Cherry. Mrs Cherry, whose husband was building a factory in China, agreed to teach Miss Deng English. When Mrs Cherry went back to the United States her husband stayed in China and soon after, he told her that Miss Deng wanted to go to America to study there.

The couple sponsored her application for a student visa and agreed to put her up until she had established herself. Miss Deng, then 19, went to live at the Cherry's home in 1988 and shared a bunk bed with their five-year-old daughter.

Mrs Cherry grew increasingly suspicious about her husband's relationship with Miss Deng. The report added: "Mrs Cherry recalls discovering a cache of photographs her husband had taken of Miss Deng in coquettish poses in his hotel room in Guanzhou."

Mr Cherry admitted that he had become infatuated with her and that once they were in Los Angeles, Miss Deng started "making recommendations" about his diet and wardrobe. When her husband and Miss Deng did not come home some evenings, Mrs Cherry concluded that they were having an affair, said the newspaper.

She told Miss Deng to leave and her husband left soon afterwards, moving into a nearby apartment with Miss Deng, who was by then a student at California State University. The Cherrys divorced and Mr Cherry married Miss Deng in 1990.

However, the romance came to an abrupt end after Mr Cherry discovered that Miss Deng "had started spending time" with a man named David Wolf. Mr Cherry said: "She told me I was a father concept to her but it would never be anything else. I loved that girl."

Mr Wolf, who now works in public relations in Beijing - and whose mother was a guest at the Murdoch-Deng wedding, according to the Wall Street Journal - refused to talk to its journalists.
That Telegraph article is actually a rip off a Wall Street Journal article, which is reprinted below. What I find strange is how few and far between such articles are, given Wendi Deng's apparent prominence in the business world (not to mention News Ltd's high profile in politics, and succession issues related to Rupert's age). Doesn't the public have a right to know more about this woman?

Rupert Murdoch was a 19-year-old trainee reporter at the long-gone Sydney Daily Mirror in 1965, when I was born. That's where and when he met his first wife, Anna. They were married from 1967 till 1999. Somehow I don't think it's HER fault that the marriage didn't work.

Now here's a link an an excerpt from that 2001 Wall Street Journal story:
She may have "no official role," says Star TV's president, Bruce Churchill, but Ms. Deng "is married to the chairman and chief executive of the company, so it seems natural that she has some voice in the business."

Ms. Deng declined repeatedly through a representative to be interviewed or to answer most of a list of written questions. Mr. Murdoch also declined repeated interview requests.

A spokesman for News Corp., Gary Ginsberg, says, "As the wife of the chairman and a private citizen, Wendi is entitled to her privacy." Ms. Deng's role at the company, the spokesman adds, is "minimal and confined to facilitating a few meetings in China and interpreting nuances of the Chinese market, which she is uniquely qualified to do." (News Corp. officially refers to the chairman's wife as "Mrs. Murdoch," but in media and Internet business circles, most people still call her Wendi Deng.)

Mr. Murdoch has long been fascinated by the potential of the China market and his Fox studio was a pioneer in doing business in the country. But at times, he has seemed to lack the feel for subtleties his wife is said to have.
Hmmn, sounds like maybe Rupert married Wendi because she could get him access to the big, lucrative Chinese market. So who is marrying whom for money, eh?

Hey, Rupert, wanna pay me to shut up now??? Every man has his price, you know!

No? OK, here's more:
Mr. Murdoch gradually repaired relations with the Chinese. He pulled the British Broadcasting Corp. from Star TV, making the channel more palatable to the Beijing government. He sold the South China Morning Post newspaper to a pro-Beijing businessman. And at his behest, News Corp.'s HarperCollins publishing unit killed a book contract with the last governor of Hong Kong, Chris Patten, an antagonist of the communist regime.
Seems Wendi has paved the path to Murdoch's business success in Asia, something arrogant Western billionaires do tend to struggle with. And Murdoch now gives her considerable latitude in the business real. 'Twas not always thus, however:
Shortly after they were married in June 1999, Mr. Murdoch told Vanity Fair magazine that his relationship with his new wife precluded her from working for News Corp. Instead, Mr. Murdoch said, Ms. Deng was "busy working on decorating the new apartment" in Manhattan. He said his bride, a graduate of the Yale School of Management, was "a bit frustrated" by the narrow scope of her activities, adding, "we'll just have to resolve that somehow."
Tsk, tsk, Rupert! Glad to hear you have moved on to health shakes and 6 am workouts! Wendi has obviously moved on too:
Ms. Deng has become deeply involved in the company's analysis and negotiation of business transactions in China, according to people who have dealt extensively with News Corp. Entrepreneurs trying to interest the company in their ideas often go first to Ms. Deng, according to a person close to News Corp. She has told this person that she sometimes receives more than 100 e-mails a day from Chinese with business proposals. She sometimes meets entrepreneurs at News Corp.'s offices in Beijing or at one of the city's well-known business-gathering spots, such as the tony St. Regis bar.
Hmmnn... Maybe I should be talking directly to Wendi?
Mr. Cherry says that about four months after the wedding, he told Ms. Deng to leave because she had started spending time with a man named David Wolf. Mr. Cherry was 53 at the time. Mr. Wolf was in his mid-20s, only a few years older than Ms. Deng.

Mr. Wolf, who declined repeated interview requests, worked in the early 1990s for an import-export company. He spoke some Chinese and was interested in a career in China, according to a person who knew him at the time.

Mr. Cherry says he and Ms. Deng briefly reconciled at one point, but they split for good when it became clear she was continuing to see Mr. Wolf. "She told me I was a father concept to her, but it would never be anything else," Mr. Cherry recalls. "I loved that girl."

Divorce records filed with the Los Angeles County Superior Court show that the Cherry-Deng marriage lasted two years and seven months. That was seven months longer than what was required for Ms. Deng to obtain a "green card," allowing her permanently to live and work in the U.S. as a resident alien. Mr. Cherry says he and Ms. Deng actually lived together for "four to five months, at the most." They haven't spoken since 1996, he adds.

During the period in the early 1990s when she was married to Mr. Cherry, and for a time after that, Ms. Deng at least on some occasions introduced the tall, well-dressed Mr. Wolf as her husband, according to people who knew Ms. Deng. Ken Chapman, a California State economics professor, recalls that the last time he saw his former student, in 1995, she handed him Mr. Wolf's business card and said she could be reached through her "husband."

At 5'10" herself, Ms. Deng and Mr. Wolf made a striking couple, according to people who knew them. They shared several addresses during the 1990s and told friends they had met in China, when Mr. Wolf had been there on business. For a time in the early 1990s, the couple worked at a suburban Los Angeles gymnastics academy operated by Li Ning, a three-time Chinese Olympics gold medallist. Ms. Deng served as a liaison between the gym's Chinese coaching staff and parents of the school-age clientele; Mr. Wolf, as the gym's general manager. Today, Mr. Wolf works as a director in the Beijing office of Burson-Marsteller, a large public-relations firm.
Well, it is late here in Australia, so I'll just re-post the rest of the old WSJ piece without further comment. I might come back to this post tomorrow... or the next day...
While a student at California State in the early 1990s, Ms. Deng and three other undergraduates formed a quartet that is recalled on the Northridge campus as the most talented group ever to pass through the school's economics department, according to Prof. Daniel Blake. The four students, who often ate and studied together, collaborated on a major written project analyzing the effect of fiscal policy on the U.S. economy.

Mr. Blake recalls that in a recommendation he wrote for Ms. Deng's application to Yale's business school, he called her a "super student, very focused on her studies." He predicted that Ms. Deng "would play a role in the opening up of China" to Western businesses.

During her four years at California State, her friends and professors say, Ms. Deng's command of spoken English improved dramatically. She chose to go to business school at Yale, says Mr. Blake, because of the international emphasis of its M.B.A. program.

In 1996, Ms. Deng graduated from Yale and began looking for a job. Through a mutual friend, she met Bruce Churchill, who then oversaw finance and corporate development at News Corp.'s Fox TV unit in Los Angeles. She lacked experience in the entertainment industry, but her credentials otherwise were impressive. She had an Ivy League business degree and was fluent in English and Mandarin, attributes of particular value to an outfit like News Corp.'s struggling Asian satellite service, Star TV. Mr. Churchill, who was on his way to Star TV as deputy chief executive, offered Ms. Deng an internship in Hong Kong. That grew into a full-time job.

Even though Ms. Deng was a relatively junior employee, she took an active role in planning Star TV's activities in Hong Kong and China, according to former News Corp. colleagues. She helped build distribution in China for Star's Channel V music channel, for example, and explored interactive TV opportunities for the company's News Digital Systems unit.

Former colleagues describe Ms. Deng as having been adept at juggling the interests of News Corp.'s various units, which like to operate independently. She is depicted as having been well prepared for meetings and anything but shy. She is said to have shown no hesitation about walking unannounced into a senior executive's office to discuss the latest Chinese entrepreneur she had met or government official she had contacted.

Rupert Murdoch frequently talks with News Corp.'s business-development executives around the globe, so it isn't surprising that one day he would cross paths with Ms. Deng. In early 1998, she first appeared at his side, acting as his interpreter when he traveled to Shanghai and Beijing.

By the summer of 1998, the Star TV staff was buzzing about romance between the pair. After dinner meetings in Hong Kong, they were observed holding hands. In May, Mr. Murdoch had separated from his wife of 31 years, Anna. The split surprised even his closest aides, who say they hadn't seen any sign of a rupture.

Mr. Murdoch told senior Star TV executives in the fall of 1998 that his relationship with Ms. Deng was "serious." Star TV's then-chairman, Gareth Chang, told Mr. Murdoch at the time that it was a bad idea for Ms. Deng to remain on staff, given her personal relationship with the parent company's chairman. That wouldn't be a problem, Mr. Murdoch replied, because Ms. Deng would be resigning and moving with him to New York.

Today, Rupert and Wendi Murdoch spend time not only in SoHo, but also at their home in Bel Air and a ranch near Carmel, Calif. Mr. Murdoch controls about 30% of News Corp., a stake worth roughly $8.7 billion. He has said the stock is owned by trusts that name his three children as beneficiaries.

Rupert and Anna Murdoch's divorce became final in June 1999, about a year after their official separation date. Negotiations over a divorce settlement dragged on for nearly 12 months, as Anna Murdoch's lawyers tried to determine the extent of News Corp.'s global assets. Financial terms of the settlement weren't made public, but the Murdochs have said they were in agreement on one crucial point: that their children eventually would gain control of the company. Anna Murdoch five months later married widower William Mann, chairman of Henry Mann Securities Corp. in New York.

Rupert Murdoch and Wendi Deng were married on June 25, 1999, 17 days after his divorce became final. The twilight ceremony took place on Mr. Murdoch's garland-bedecked yacht, the Morning Glory, in New York Harbor. Welsh singing star Charlotte Church serenaded the couple with a trio of ballads. Among the 82 guests were Mr. Murdoch's three children and friends such as financier Michael Milken and Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky. Also on board was Valeria Wolf, the mother of David Wolf. News Corp. later posted a photograph of the newlyweds on the company Web site.
The writers of this old WSJ piece were John Lippman at john.lippman@wsj.com , Leslie Chang at leslie.chang@wsj.com and Robert Frank at robert.frank@wsj.com. I wonder if any of them still work at WSJ?

UPDATE: Much, much more at my new blog, THE WENDI DENG WATCHERS CLUB!