On The Diller-Malone Contretemps

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And you thought that choleric media mogul and longtime bachelor Barry Diller was married to the glamourous Austro-Italian princess and CFDA head Diane von Furstenberg alone. Diller is also married — media businesswise — to Liberty Media’s equally-feisty mogul John Malone. That marriage is having a rough patch.

Diller is a billionaire Hollywood royal who rolled, once upon a time in the 1970s, with the Studio 54 crowd (Cue: “Don’t Leave Me This Way).” Malone, by contrast, is a ”brainy engineer,” with a doctorate who brawls with federal regulators and lives on the telecommunications side of FishbowlNY. Never the twain shall meet. Jessica E. Vascellaro of The Wall Street Journal writes:

”Messrs. Diller and Malone met more than two decades ago when Mr. Diller was running Paramount. Mr. Diller recalls being impressed by Mr. Malone’s Ph.D. in operations research from Johns Hopkins University and his reputation for shrewd and complex investments.

”When Mr. Diller left Fox in 1992, Mr. Malone, along with Brian Roberts, president of Comcast Corp., lured him to QVC Inc., a large home-shopping network. Mr. Malone’s Liberty Media and Comcast were part owners of QVC, and the two cable executives hoped Mr. Diller would add luster to the network, which they worried was a bit fusty.”

Fusty, indeed. Diller’s IAC, you’ll remember, was one of the first media organizations to get zapped by the debt market crisis. The ”complex business ties” that bind the two media moguls are fleshed out in the article.