‘Whatever happened to Ted Turner?’

He drives around in a Toyota Prius and admits he’s become a little bit religious. He no longer drinks, hasn’t bought anything from a store in five years and sees a psychiatrist friend for conversation.

At age 73, CNN founder and former cable TV mogul Ted Turner is a lot mellower than the reputation that once gave him the titles “Captain Outrageous” and Mouth of the South”, according to a wide-ranging interview the Hollywood Reporter snagged with the reclusive billionaire.

So out of the spotlight is he, the Reporter headlined its piece, “Whatever happened to Ted Turner?”

The conclusion is that after years of fast living, wheeling and dealing and three marriages, Turner has been leading a very contemplative life since his departure from Time Warner Inc., which purchased Turner Broadcasting Corp. and CNN in 2000 then pushed Turner out after merging with AOL.

Turner, worth about $2 billion according to Forbes, opens up a lot in the interview, even showing reporter Stephen Galloway what’s in his wallet: a driver’s license, two credit cards, a few phone numbers and $1,000 in cash.

In addition to TBS and CNN, the former Atlanta billboard king founded Turner Network Television, the Cartoon Network and Turner Entertainment. He owned the Atlanta Braves and was the man behind World Championship Wrestling and the Goodwill Games.

He still has a lot to show for his wealth: 28 properties – nearly 2 million acres of land – including 14 ranches with 55,000 bison, enough to keep his Ted’s Montana Grill chain sizzling for years. He’s also teamed up with Atlanta-based Southern Co. on a solar-energy project in New Mexico, according to the Reporter.

He gets up a 4 a.m. to take medicine and then again at 6 a.m. for a light workout, according to the Reporter. He has a “mild to moderate case of anxiety” but says he doesn’t suffer from depression. He also says he’s not in therapy but he does see a psychiatrist friend once a month. “It’s just somebody to talk to,” he told the Reporter. The onetime alcoholic now doesn’t drink at all. “I quit completely a year ago,” he told the Reporter.

He spends his days focused on the nonprofits he supports: The U.N. Foundation, the Nuclear Threat Initiative and the Turner Foundation. Turner gave a $1 billion gift to the U.N. in 1997.

It’s apparent his split with Time Warner still stings. Turner said he took an $8 billion hit after his shares in Time Warner plunged following its merger with AOL in 2000.

His daughter, Laura Turner Seydel, chairman of Captain Planet Foundation, told the Reporter her father had “totally gotten screwed” when Time Warner pushed him out, and that he “really misses” being in the business.

When it comes to television, once Ted Turner’s bread and butter, he only watches CNN and hasn’t watched its sister station HLN “in years. I want serious news,”  he told the Reporter.

Turner doesn’t talk much about politics in the interview but says of President Barack Obama, “I don’t know who could do a better job.” He adds, “He’s alienated a lot of people — not deliberately or anything.” The environmental activist calls the Tea Party “mean-spirited” because he said members believe global warming “is a hoax.”

When it comes to friendships, Turner tells the Reporter, “I have several good friends but not one [in particular].”

When it comes to love, the Reporter says Turner has been alternating among four girlfriends since his 2001 breakup with actress Jane Fonda after 10 years of marriage.

He says he cried “for six months” after his divorce from Fonda. “And after that, you gotta go on.” At the time there were media reports that he paid Fonda $40 million.

On tying the knot, Turner says, “I regret that I wasn’t more successful with my marriages, but it is what it is.”

101 comments Add your comment

KnightInATL

March 1st, 2012
12:30 pm

Buy back the Braves, Ted. We miss ya.

GIVE ME A BREAK

March 1st, 2012
12:32 pm

Would be a great guy to have lunch with, to pick his brain.

blazerdawg

March 1st, 2012
12:55 pm

One of the greatest of all time! Miss his vision and Atlanta participation.

59bulldawg

March 1st, 2012
1:04 pm

Amen KnightInATL! Ted please buy the Braves again!

Justine

March 1st, 2012
1:05 pm

I always like Ted Turner and know not only the Braves but Atlanta is not the city it was when he was “out there”. What hurts the most is the way CNN has gone down hill. What I used to like about it was CNN provided news 24/7 and never repeated. Now it is a joke. I believe is a true renessance man and was wll ahead of the pack. I remember him telling a group of college students in DC the ways he made himself. He appears to always have been a man of integrity and courage. Let us never forget when one of his workers family was trapped inside HAITI after the earthquake he sent his personal plane to get them. That is the kind of person he is. Too bad there arent more people like him.

Gene

March 1st, 2012
1:08 pm

Not a great guy, but a great owner of the Braves in the 1990’s. Things haven’t been the same without him.

OldFan

March 1st, 2012
1:09 pm

Just a really decent man. Flawed as we all are, but in his own way, humble, and seemingly has a good heart. Refreshing that he has his ego under control.

NeNe404Army

March 1st, 2012
1:11 pm

So is he boning that crazy housewives chick or not?

Proud American

March 1st, 2012
1:13 pm

I agree, buy back the Braves and tell Jane Fonda that you’re sorry and ask her to marry you again. She was and is a wonderful woman. You and Jane made a good couple. She was really good for you, she kept you grounded. Go after Jane and get her back Ted.

Jim S.

March 1st, 2012
1:15 pm

It really is striking how contemplative he has become, but he’s entitled to it. Like others, I wish he had the energy and desire to buy back the Braves and the Hawks for that matter. On the brighter side, it sounds as if he stays somewhat active with his charity work. He certainly made a profound mark on this city and I am thankful for that.

Bubba Grump

March 1st, 2012
1:15 pm

They didnt mention that he also won the Americas Cup yacht race. Few people have accomplished so much in their lives.

Buy the Brave back Ted and I will eat at your restaurant more often!!

jtaylor27

March 1st, 2012
1:19 pm

He gave a great interview on the OWN network. I watched on Comcast OnDemand…I highly recommend it if you get the chance. It was excellent. He’s a really interesting guy, and I, too, miss that he no longer owns the Braves.

Richard Alpert

March 1st, 2012
1:19 pm

I saw him at a Ted’s Montana Grill in Buckhead a few months back. He had a 20 something blonde with him and was dressed like a captain.

D. Kindig

March 1st, 2012
1:22 pm

Hanoi Jane is a wonderful woman?!?!?! Puleeeeze!!!!!!!!!!

Ron Burgundy

March 1st, 2012
1:29 pm

Selling to Time Warner screwed the Braves to no end!

UGASlobberknocker

March 1st, 2012
1:36 pm

I love Ted and he was a great owner, but did he think anything to do with Jane Fonda was going to turn out well?

Captain Planet

March 1st, 2012
1:38 pm

The word around town is that he and Marlo from Real Housewives of Atlanta has/had a thing going on.

beebee

March 1st, 2012
1:49 pm

Bob, the man won’t be walking in front of the Marta Station at Five Points by himself watching the Peach Drop. Sheeesh man. Get out of your scared little world!

Oblama

March 1st, 2012
1:50 pm

He’s a space cadet.

Jane

March 1st, 2012
2:01 pm

Jane Fonda discovered God and Ted Turner realized it wasn’t him.

Jane

March 1st, 2012
2:02 pm

I thought Jane Fonda was a lesbian?

Jane

March 1st, 2012
2:02 pm

I thought Jane Fonda was a lesbian?

Kashi

March 1st, 2012
2:03 pm

Buy back BRAVES. Please give us another championship!

Boondoggled

March 1st, 2012
2:06 pm

Still spinning a yarn. He has you all fooled. He is nobody’s fool…but neither is he what he used to be. A rich old shell of his former self.

rlm

March 1st, 2012
2:08 pm

Hanoi Jane was good for Ted. She is just not a very educated or thoughtful person and goes off trying to do good before she knows what she is talking about. Means well but not always with it. Ted should not have sold to Time Warner. These people always are not fair to put it mildly to Southerners. Look what happened to James Robinson at Amex. Buck up Ted if you don’t make mistakes you are playing too safe. I wonder if the UN will actually waste your bucks however.

Beta

March 1st, 2012
2:09 pm

Mr. Turner sounds a little depressed. I remember how Skip Carey’s personality changed (on air personality, I didn’t know him personally) when he stopped drinking. Wonder if it had the same affect on Mr. Turner. Atlanta was a lot more fun and interesting when he was involved here. Live long and prosper Mr. Turner.

mark a. brown

March 1st, 2012
2:09 pm

Wonder if he mentioned Marlo as one of his Girlfriends?

The Truth

March 1st, 2012
2:18 pm

Anyone that donates money to the UN is a enemy of all that is right in this world. Just because you have money, doesn’t mean you have any dang sense.

Come back...

March 1st, 2012
2:18 pm

…to TBS, Inc. The company has NO entrepreneurial spirit. It’s been long gone.

kimmer

March 1st, 2012
2:26 pm

Ted has stated that he couldn’t buy back the braves even if he wanted to because he doesn’t have enough money.

Michelle

March 1st, 2012
2:28 pm

Enough with the “Hanoi Jane” crap! It was 40 years ago. Ronald Reagan rolled over on fellow actors for being accused communists during the Red Scare so they would be out of work and he would get better roles. How come no one ever wants to talk about that?

Sam

March 1st, 2012
2:35 pm

Michelle, agree 1000%. What’s that catchy bible phrase, “let he who is without………”.

MHS

March 1st, 2012
2:57 pm

They don’t agree with me so they are mean-spirited. That about says it all.

Debbie

March 1st, 2012
2:57 pm

Love this guy – always have. He tells it like it is, stands up for what he believes in, has a practical world view and is a friend to the environment. He’s open, honest, hardworking & brilliant. He loves his country and the world. He has always fascinated me – always will. All the best to you, Ted!

kDog

March 1st, 2012
3:02 pm

If you read Ted Turners biography he has plenty of skeletons and flaws. He is a good businessman and difficult personality to work for. He was great for his leadership with the CNN, TBS, the Braves and other business ventures.

Silverdogg

March 1st, 2012
3:06 pm

How can a person who calls themselves Proud American say Jane was and is a wonderful woman after all the damage she did to the troops in vietnam?

Dirty Dawg

March 1st, 2012
3:11 pm

I can’t believe that Ted still actually watches CNN. After TimeWarner/AOL took over the network turned to crap and has remained lame ever since.

JB

March 1st, 2012
3:11 pm

Lot’s of lessons in this article. He’s got 2 billion dollars….and he’s miserable. Family, friends, God, inner peace and comfortable in your own skin are all treasures. Happiness for the common person is becoming more successful and improving your lot in life, until a point you go back to friends ,family and inner peace. Bigger house, nicer car, clothes, vacations etc. is all things that make life exciting, but in the end, not so much. The real winners are the people who realize that, deal and cope with it, and enjoy life.

brock

March 1st, 2012
3:11 pm

It’s good to hear from Mr Turner. Thanks for all you’ve done for Atlanta and the world.

Bob in Sandy Springs

March 1st, 2012
3:11 pm

Ok beebee , where do you live, and how much do you carry around in your wallet if it’s not a big deal??? Please post a picture of yourself too…

gunga din

March 1st, 2012
3:14 pm

if I had his money, I would retire to Montana and spend all my time hunting and fishing with the occasional trip to Vegas for some gambling and female companionship

P Rose

March 1st, 2012
3:18 pm

The 90s were the days in Atlanta. The Braves were the class of the major leagues, and were run by a reckless, daring young maverick, an America’s Cup champion, an entrepreneur who single-handedly reinvented the way we watch the news, who galavanted around town with one of the all-time Hollywood beauties as his wife (disagree? watch Barbarella). Yes, he and his city were riding high. Alas, his very ambition was his Achilles heel. He had long wanted to be the head of a major media company, as evidenced by his long-ago failure to merge with CBS. Merging with Time Warner was the great mistake of his career. They couldn’t wait to push the maverick out the door, and to demote the Braves to the back of the bus in the process. A proud city whose team was once featured in every living room from coast to coast is now seen only in fuzzy-vision on a local Podunk network, while the country guffaws at The Big Band Theory. TBS – very funny.

JB

March 1st, 2012
3:18 pm

Booty

March 1st, 2012
3:18 pm

Atlanta will never be able to repay Ted for what he has done for the city. Without Turner there be no Braves, Hawks, and CNN. No Atlanta, Thanks Ted

P Rose

March 1st, 2012
3:19 pm

Big Bang Theory, not Big Band Theory

mecq

March 1st, 2012
3:20 pm

He is obviously an extremelly brilliant man; He is a visionaryand a national treasure. An accomplished man who still has much life to live and give. Back Off Jane Fonda you hypocrites. What exactly did we accomplish in VietNam….??? Do you know..??? Why were we there..????? I bet you don’t know that either…!!!

Michelle

March 1st, 2012
3:28 pm

What “damage” did she inflict exactly, posing for a photo that was at worst in poor taste? Half the damn country opposed the Vietnam War, including many returning soldiers. Let it go.

Hall of Fame

March 1st, 2012
3:36 pm

P. Rose you are a 100% correct. As a child living in ATL in the 90s it was a great time for the city and the Braves. I have since left and from what I can tell it was a good move. Atlanta doesn’t have much going for it these days.

P.S. You are forgiven and welcomed into the HOF.

Who Me?

March 1st, 2012
3:37 pm

Ted will always be the lightning rod this town needed at the time. Too bad we don’t have his leadership around anymore. Tough luck that he took stock in the Time Warner transaction, shoulda cashed out and would have never lost the $8B to begin with….

Would be nice to have him running TBS again, they suck without him….

redtampon

March 1st, 2012
3:39 pm

Remind me…I don’t remember how Ted got the shaft from Time Warner. How was he so blindsided?