The former senior CBS business executive was 65 – the last day


Deborah Barrack, one of the most popular, influential and beloved television business executives of the past three decades, died today, January 21, after a long battle with cancer. She was 65 years old.

It will be two years since Barrack left CBS at the end of 2020. During her 35 years at the company, as president of business operations, she created negotiation templates and introduced business models that have since become industry standards. A skilled negotiator highly respected by her peers, Barrack — known to all as Debbie — has led the network’s and studio’s high-profile negotiations. She brokers many mega talent and shows deals while she is always cool under pressure in the most chaotic situations.

Behind the steely exterior, the unassuming and press-shy Barack had a great sense of humor. She was also a wonderful mentor to many industry professionals who now carry on her legacy.

“Debbie was a mentor and dear friend to many of us at CBS,” said David Stapf, president of CBS Studios and a longtime colleague and friend of Bark’s. “She was the person everyone turned to for advice and guidance, both professionally and personally. You always leave her office feeling a little smarter and emotionally stronger. There was no one more universally loved, admired and respected at CBS and in our business.

“Debbie was that rare person who was equal parts intimidating, smart as hell, and incredibly compassionate,” Stepf added. She was my partner, my best friend and the person who made me a better person.

During her tenure at CBS, Barrack helped develop the network’s business framework, establish an in-house production arm, and oversee the studio’s operations, including original series and seasoned CBS production docs. Rescue 911 and drama Touched by an angel, On-the-go to CBS Studios’ extensive, 75-series slate.

In addition to her key role in introducing program ownership to CBS for the first time, Barak helped develop the business plan and led negotiations to transition CBS’ late night real estate from lease to full ownership. She negotiated talent and production deals. The Late Show with Stephen Colbert And The Late Late Show with James Cordenthe original CBS’ late night show produced by CBS Studios.

Barak helped create a business model for CBS’s model for summer original scripted series through low network licensing fees and the timely SVOD window. Used for such series Under Dome, Extent, Zoo And BrainDead. In addition, she established licensing fee structures for CBS All Access original series. Star Trek: Discovery.

Barack handled license renewals for the network’s series, including high-profile renegotiations. The Big Bang Theory, Two and a Half Men And The latter show with David LettermanAlso special long-term renewal for key franchises including Grammy Awards, Kennedy Center Honors and Academy of Country Music Awards. In 2000, she prepared the original Survived Take the model contract for real talent deals. Most recently, Barack negotiated CBS’ purchase of an interest in Capital Entertainment and a long-term distribution and co-production deal with Imagine Entertainment. She also represented CBS on the CW board and oversaw the deal for Paramount+’s predecessor, CBS All Access.

“She was respected and admired across the media spectrum. She was wise, strong and fair-minded to all. Her business acumen and sophisticated negotiating skills were matched by her humanity and grace,” said producer Nina Tassler, former longtime CBS programming executive and former entertainment chairman during her tenure. Working with her for more than 20 years has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Her sophisticated intellect combined with her deep appreciation for artists has earned Debbie a world-class reputation.

“A mentor and friend to many, DB was fundamental to the network’s success,” he continued. Above all, her moral compass treats everyone with grace and dignity.

Barak joined CBS in 1985 as Broadcast Counsel in the network’s West Coast Legal Department. She rose through the ranks to SVP, Business Planning and Special Projects, playing a key role in the negotiation of new media deals and collaboration agreements. SVP, Business Affairs, CBS Entertainment; EVP, Business Affairs, CBS Network Television Entertainment Group; EVP, Business Operations, CBS Network Television Entertainment Group; And finally, in 2015, the position of President of Business Operations was named.

When Barack announced her retirement at the end of January 2020, she was looking to start a new chapter in her career focusing on nonprofits, an area she has been deeply involved with. Services, including as Chair, and Adt Ariel School, she has also been active with Unistream and the Israel Policy Forum, among others. Barack is also open to pursuing other opportunities, including serving on boards, and plans to spend time with her grandchildren.

The epidemic cut short her final year at CBS, and her illness derailed many of her future plans.





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