Deborah Barak, the longtime CBS business executive who helped guide the Eye network through a transitional era of television, died Saturday after a battle with cancer. She is 65 years old.
Barack was widely respected throughout the industry as a keen negotiator and astute dealmaker. Among the many groundbreaking deals she brokered for the network was the original licensing deal for Survivor in 2000. In the early days of the streaming content boom, she also helped reinvigorate the Star Trek franchise with Netflix through an innovative global deal. She spent 35 years at CBS, signing on in 1985 as the West Coast broadcast consultant.
“Debbie was a mentor to many of us at CBS,” said David Stapf, president of CBS studios. “She’s the person everyone turns to for advice and guidance, both professionally and personally. You always leave her office feeling a little wiser and emotionally stronger.” On CBS And in our entire business, there is no one who is more universally loved, admired and respected.”
Stapf remembers her as “the rare person who was both intimidating and brilliantly intelligent and compassionate, which made her a unicorn. She was my partner, my best friend, and made me a better person.” good person.”
Amy Reisenbach, another longtime CBS executive who was recently promoted to entertainment president, credits Barack with helping her rise to the top job in programming.
“Debbie haggled hard, but was always fair and compassionate. She was also a mentor to dozens of people at CBS, including me. I can honestly tell you that without her teaching, guidance, and her unwavering faith in me, I wouldn’t take this job,” Reisenbach wrote in a note to CBS staffers. “She was pure class and intelligence and kindness. A little less in today’s world.
Another longtime colleague recalls Barack as a man who was “smart, tough, and open to everyone.” Nina Tassler, the longtime president of CBS Entertainment, has worked with Barack for more than two decades.
“Her business acumen and sophisticated negotiating skills are complemented by her humanity and decency. Working together for more than 20 years has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life,” Tasler said. “Her mature intellect and deep appreciation of the artist make Debbie a world-class figure; few others share her myriad of unique talents. Her unassuming, media-averse personality is endearing to employees across the company and beyond and creative executive favorite. Throughout her illustrious career, Debbie has been a mentor and friend to many and the foundation of the network’s success. Most importantly, her moral compass has never wavered, treating everyone with grace and dignity. personal.”
After graduating from UCLA and Loyola Law School, Barack worked as an assistant at O’Melveny & Myers before joining CBS. In 2010, she was promoted to Executive Vice President, Business Operations, CBS Networks. Five years later, she was promoted to president of CBS Entertainment Business Operations. Barack retired from CBS in 2020.