Oedipus at the Garden

Photo: Platon

Late last year, James Dolan, the CEO of Cablevision and corporate overlord of the Knicks, Rangers, and Madison Square Garden, had his hands full battling Mayor Bloomberg’s plan for a football stadium when he was confronted with an even tougher task. It was probably the hardest thing he’d ever faced in his professional life. He had to personally tell his 78-year-old father, the estimable Charles Dolan, the company founder and chairman and a pioneer of the cable-television business, that as CEO, he could no longer support his beloved satellite offshoot and that it would have to be sold or terminated.

The idea behind the venture, called Voom, had been to catapult Cablevision, a regional firm with 3 million subscribers, into the futuristic world of satellites, where no customer is out of reach. To Chuck, it was to be the crowning achievement of a storied career, perhaps his last hurrah. No son would wish to stand in the way of such a thing, certainly not one who, at the age of 49, lives next door to his father and calls him Dad around the office.

On the 26th floor of 2 Penn Plaza, high above Madison Square Garden, Jim Dolan struggled to describe this strange and agonizing set of circumstances. Dolan does not, as a rule, speak to the press. He is excitable, prone to outbursts and tantrums, and he’s smart enough to know that doesn’t play well in the media. But he agreed to explain how he had entered into a predicament that may cost him his company. This is the first time he has spoken about his winter of discontent.

He is not in a personal war, he insists. It’s merely a difference of opinion among honorable businessmen who happen to be father and son. The satellite is not a bad idea, it’s just that there are already two other satellite-TV services, and competing with them is insanely expensive. “I was never a big fan, from day one, of the satellite project,” says Jim, “and Dad’s always known that. But I don’t have to be a fan of everything the company does. I just need to make sure we’re doing the best job we can, and he and I both relied on that up until this point, and we never had any problems with it until then.”

For years, Jim and the board indulged Chuck’s satellite dream; in 2003, father and son had even gone down to Cape Canaveral to watch the launch together. But in its first full year of operation, Voom had blown through $660 million, and an analysis showed no relief in sight. In the old days, that sort of bleeding might have been tolerable, but in the post-Enron/WorldCom era, board members have to be extra careful. They had received a legal opinion that they could be personally liable to shareholder lawsuits if they didn’t pull the plug.

“At some point in December,” says Jim, “I had to tell him, ‘Look, I can’t vote for this anymore.’ ” How did his father take the news? “He wasn’t happy,” says Jim flatly, as if trying to shake the memory of a bad dream.

In January, the board authorized the sale of the satellite, the Rainbow I, to EchoStar, and Chuck was later given until the end of February to come up with a plan to buy Voom’s remaining assets. It left him furious, and with few options. Chuck’s two other sons on the board, Patrick and Thomas (who runs Voom), sided with their father; Jim and several erstwhile loyalists on the board did not. According to Leo Hindery, a former Cablevision board member, Chuck was “devastated. He went down to Florida with his wife to think about things. He was either going to retire, or come back fighting tooth and nail.”

To the surprise of nobody who knows him well, Chuck Dolan came roaring back. He asked for more time to come up with a financing scheme, but the board stuck to its guns and the original deadline passed. Then he invoked his powers as a special shareholder to rid the board of key Voom opponents, like the financier Steve Rattner, and replace them with supporters, including his son-in-law. He hastily put up his own Website as counterpoint to the official Cablevision site. He was, in a sense, attempting a hostile takeover of his own company.

All of this has the ground moving beneath Jim Dolan’s feet. Who does he work for? His father or Cablevision? There never used to be a difference. Now there are periods when Jim and his father hardly speak. And Jim believes there’s nothing he can do about it. “As my father’s son, I want what my father wants,” he says. But as CEO, he has other obligations. “To be honest,” says Jim, “I don’t have a lot of options.”

In New York City, if you want to choose ‘What can I do to cause controversy every day?’ it’s No. 1, run a cable company; No. 2, own a sports franchise; No. 3, tangle with the mayor,” says Harvey Weinstein, a friend of Jim’s. “And in the middle of all this, the biggest battle is with his dad. It’s a defining moment for Jim. He isn’t in the shadow anymore. This is his coming-out party, although I don’t think he wants this party.”

It has been a decade since Jim Dolan was installed by his father as the CEO of Cablevision. Though the stock is publicly traded, the Dolan family exerts control through a special class of shares, and until recently tended to do as it pleased. The Dolan family holds $1.5 billion of Cablevision stock; according to a recent Securities and Exchange Commission filing, over the past fourteen months, Jim has taken home a salary and bonus totaling $9.5 million, while his father has made $6.8 million.

The Dolans, son Jim the CEO and father Chuck the chairman, in 2004.Photo: Zachary Zavislak/Courtesy of Cablevision

Throughout Jim’s tenure as CEO, there has been rampant speculation about who was really running the show. Especially early on, few believed that Jim, who had a history of substance abuse, a hair-trigger temper, and a taste for leisure-class pursuits like competitive yachting, was anything more than his father’s compliant proxy. In early January, when I asked Wall Street analysts who was really in day-to-day control of the company, the father or the son, few could answer with any certainty. “The problem is, we don’t really know,” said Richard Greenfield of Fulcrum Global Partners.

According to a source close to the board, Jim and Chuck had reached a kind of understanding over the years: “Chuck was perfectly happy having Jim run all the company, with the exception of the satellite—and Jim was perfectly happy for the father to dabble in the satellite.”

At Madison Square Garden, which Cablevision took full control of in 1997, along with its two resident teams, the Knicks and the Rangers, Jim has always been out in front. Cablevision has spent lavishly on both teams, but often in quick-fix ways that have failed to produce winning records; this year, the Knicks are floundering again, while the hapless Rangers aren’t even playing because of the NHL lockout. Dolan, as a consequence, has become a favored whipping boy of the sports press, alternately savaged and ridiculed, sometimes both at the same time.

That seemingly weak public stature did not, however, deter him from taking on Mayor Bloomberg and his football stadium. The project galls Jim. He can’t fathom the audacity of the mayor and his deputy Dan Doctoroff in proposing to build a publicly subsidized stadium for the Jets just a few blocks west of the Garden. It’s competition, Dolan believes, and if it were a private project, he would have no choice but to live with it. But how can he be expected, as he puts it, “to compete with your own government”?

On the Jets stadium, Bloomberg “smoked me,” says Dolan. “He basically rolled me up and smoked me. He said, ‘This thing is happening whether you like it or not.’”

As Bloomberg prepared to maneuver the stadium through a series of political loopholes, Cablevision responded with a barrage of hectoring ads and then crashed the party with its own plan for developing the site, throwing the project into doubt and turning the mayor into a sworn and possibly vengeful adversary.

When Jim Dolan was a young man, the last thing he wanted to do was follow his father into the family business. In fact, he didn’t want to be in any business at all, maybe because he sensed that it would prevent him from ever escaping his father’s shadow. His dream then was to be a rock star. Now, this dream deferred (though not dead—more on that below), he is on a very different kind of stage, sharing it with two powerful men, Michael Bloomberg and Chuck Dolan, who see him as an impediment to things they want very badly.

The Hollywood Reporter once described Cablevision as “the North Korea of the cable business. No one understands what they are doing, but everybody is concerned.” The House of Dolan is content to keep it that way. They make certain their senior managers who quit or are fired—and there have been plenty—are bound by severance packages from talking publicly about the company or the family.

In person, Jim Dolan is very direct; subtlety is not his art. He is five foot six, built like a fireplug, and has a well-groomed goatee. On the day I met him at his office, he was wearing dark slacks, a black polo sweater, and loafers with metal buckles. His voice is raspy, part Charles Rangel, part Sunrise Mall, and he speaks in an animated fashion, constantly shifting in his chair, smiling broadly one second, frowning deeply the next. Every now and then, a slight temper flashes in his eyes.

On the subject of his split with his father over Voom, Dolan chooses his words with extreme care. But about Bloomberg and the football stadium, he can hardly keep himself reined in. In a theatrical tone of sarcasm and disbelief, Dolan describes Cablevision as an innocent bystander, drawn into a fight it wanted no part of. “Even if your teams are doing lousy and you don’t have a good concert, you are still going to be Madison Square Garden, you are still going to be the ‘showplace of America,’ ” says Dolan. “The stadium threatens that in a way that nothing else does. And if we had not started shouting about it, I’m telling you, that thing would be being built right now.”

Jim Dolan, at the end of his daily commute from Long Island to the Garden. (Photo credit: Platon)

More than a year ago, the Dolans went down to City Hall to make their case personally to Bloomberg. “We went to visit the mayor, my father and I, we brought with us a deck”—a presentation—“about why we were concerned about a West Side stadium, etc., in the idea that we would talk to him about it and maybe work out something that would be okay for our shareholders,” says Dolan. “The mayor was very nice to us and said, ‘You need to talk to Dan Doctoroff, he has my proxy on this.’ We met with Dan Doctoroff, and Dan Doctoroff basically didn’t look at our deck either. He just simply said to us, ‘If you give us any trouble, I’m going to take away all your tax abatements.’”

That sent the Dolans home in a fierce mood. Later, under the stands at a Knicks game last spring, Jim tried to have another conversation with the mayor about it. “I told him, look, there’s EPA environmental studies to do on this; we don’t know the impact,” says Dolan. “And he smoked me. He basically rolled me up and smoked me. He said, ‘I’m not going to do any of those things. That’s not going to stop me. That’s all red tape and we’re going to cut through all that red tape and this thing is happening whether you like it or not.’”

Was the tone confrontational? “That’s almost word for word,” says Dolan. “And he said, and this is one of his favorite sayings, ‘And you better get onboard.’ I know Mike for a long time. And I’m very surprised at this. I’ve never been able to understand why the mayor is the way he is about it. I think it goes back to his deputy mayor, and it seems like a rather blind loyalty.”

By the fall, Cablevision was bankrolling a flurry of ads, tying the $600 million of public investment in the project to subway-fare hikes and shortfalls in education spending. These ads attacked Bloomberg where he is most vulnerable politically, using the examples of hardworking waitresses and firefighters to underscore the message that the billionaire mayor is trampling over the concerns of ordinary people.

It was all-out war; the mayor responded with shots at the Dolans’ basketball team and their stewardship of the Garden. Cablevision’s ads drew blood, but it wasn’t until February, when the company jumped in with its impromptu counteroffer for the stadium site, which is owned by the cash-strapped MTA, that the mayor’s plan looked genuinely vulnerable. It was a brilliant tactical maneuver. The offer was for $600 million, a cool half-billion more than the Jets were planning to pay, and rather than a stadium, Cablevision envisioned a vast complex of apartments and offices. Final development proposals were due March 21. Responding to Dolan’s recounting of his conversations with the mayor and the deputy mayor, Ed Skyler, the City Hall spokesman, questioned Dolan’s version and reacted in harsh terms. “It would be a shame,” Skyler says, “if New Yorkers let the person who destroyed the Knicks and Rangers, let Madison Square Garden fall apart, [and] failed at every business venture he has pursued … make crucial decisions about this city’s economic future.”

“As my father’s son, I want what my father wants,” Jim says. But as a CEO, he has other considerations. “To be honest, I don’t have a lot of options.”

Meanwhile, there have been whispers that Chuck Dolan is disappointed by his son’s behavior and wishes he hadn’t gotten so wrapped up in a distracting fight that has little to do with Cablevision’s core businesses.But Jim, who has been hearing such talk for most of his career, swiftly counters it. “People would like to think that, but no,” he says, adding that on this issue there is actually something of a role reversal. “My father is more outraged by the behavior of the city than I am. He really feels it’s very wrong, whereas I’m sort of dealing with it from the more practical point of view.”

A major theme of Jim Dolan’s life is his recovery from alcoholism and substance abuse. Sober now for twelve years, he candidly describes his mid-thirties as “a festival. It was not a festival of love, it was a festival of self-abuse. Like any other alcoholic and chemically dependent person, every binge, every event, is a little more than the one before.”

“To be honest,” he adds, “there are stories that I’ve heard that may be true, but I don’t remember them.”

With his father’s support, Jim went to the Hazelden clinic in 1993. But his former life won’t completely go away. Robert Astarita, who headed Cablevision security for eighteen years until 2002, contends in a 415-page sworn deposition that in the early nineties, before Jim was CEO, he was ordered by Chuck Dolan and John Tatta, a now-deceased co-founder of Cablevision, to search Jim’s office and home for drugs. He claims in the deposition that he found some, and it was not long afterward that Jim entered Hazelden.

From the statements in the deposition—if true, and given Jim’s subsequent recovery—it is possible to view the search order as the act of a concerned father. But Astarita’s deposition also paints a grim picture of life as a Jim Dolan subordinate. “He can treat people like shit,” Astarita testified, under questioning from a Cablevision attorney. “All of us, every single one of us, and he gets away with it. And why he gets away with it is because he paid us all a lot of money and we all made a great deal of money at Cablevision … All I can think of is him yelling and screaming all the time, all the time not listening to people’s opinions, not letting the facts get in the way of his opinions.”

Astarita is suing Cablevision to recover $1.5 million in severance he says was unfairly withheld. According to Cablevision, the severance wasn’t paid for a very simple reason—Astarita took two television sets and put them in his garage. Astarita acknowledges taking the sets but says he brought them home for safekeeping after layoffs left his department in turmoil.

Chuck Dolan rejected Astarita’s testimony about the drug search. “That never happened,” he said through a Cablevision spokesperson. “It’s absolutely wrong.” The spokesperson added that “the source of that story … is suing the company, and no one should believe anything he says.”

Sitting in the office of his attorney, Jim Batson, Astarita also said about Jim Dolan: “He could be very generous. He allowed me and my family to go on three Caribbean vacations. He allowed us to use his yacht. Those were the best vacations of our life.”

When Chuck Dolan’s nascent cable company won the rights to wire all of southern Manhattan in 1965, most people scoffed at the idea that anyone would pay for television. Chuck saw it quite differently. He sensed that there was an appetite and a market out there for far more than a few measly TV channels, and he had prescient ideas about how to feed that market. With the 1972 airing of a polka party from Pennsylvania, he gave birth to the channel that would one day introduce us to Carrie Bradshaw and Tony Soprano: HBO.

For all his foresight, though, Chuck Dolan was not always able to realize the long-term gains of his innovations. Years before HBO became the cultural juggernaut (and cash cow) it is today, Dolan lost control of it. He and Time Inc. had been partners in his original cable company, called Sterling Manhattan Communications, but Time Inc. didn’t have the nerve to keep investing in such a costly, speculative enterprise. So it gutted the company, jettisoning everything except the Manhattan cable franchise and HBO.

It was a punishing setback, but Dolan recovered. He organized a new company, which would become Cablevision, and used a big chunk of his own savings to buy back as many of the cable franchises as he could. But HBO, and its fabulous potential, had slipped out of his hands for good.

As Chuck made his way in the cable business, he and his family lived on Long Island, modestly at first in Massapequa Park, then more lavishly on the North Shore. Jim is one of six Dolan children, and he did not take after his father. He was a combustible kid who loved rock music and did everything he could to be around it, even if it meant working as a roadie for a garage band. This was a refuge from his demanding father, a world apart. “My dad is deaf in his left ear,” says Jim. “And one of his most famous quotes about music is, ‘You know, I really can’t tell the difference between Elton John and Frank Sinatra.’ He actually said that. And I’m like, Well, that’s pretty hopeless.”

Jim drifted through two colleges before landing at SUNY–New Paltz. It was there that he had an epiphany of sorts. He was taking guitar lessons from a gifted musician who had played for years but was still teaching college kids for $5 an hour. That did not look like much of a future to Jim, certainly not compared with Dad’s growing business. So Jim switched majors to communications, and a few days after graduation, went to work for the family company.

It was a ground-floor-up education. Jim peddled cable subscriptions, sold advertising time, knocked on the doors of delinquent customers. His father dispatched him to Cleveland, to launch an all-sports radio station. “He was very hands-on,” says Jim Glass, then the station’s general manager. Dolan would even quiz the station’s hosts “to make sure they knew what they were talking about.” It was clear Dolan would one day be CEO, says Glass. “There was no question he had the moxie and the understanding to do it.”

Jim was made CEO in 1995, while his father kept the chairman title. Chuck always stood by Jim, but he had a way of reminding people that he was the father and Jim the son. Asked why Jim was the son elevated to CEO, Chuck once said, “Mostly, it was because no one else wanted it.”

With Jim as CEO, the core of Cablevision, its cable service, has prospered. The company was ahead of the curve in providing high-speed Internet, telephone, and digital-TV service; Cablevision now collects more money from its subscribers than does any other major cable operator in America. It does not hurt that Cablevision’s service area covers some of America’s richest Zip Codes (Greenwich, Scarsdale, Great Neck), where premium packages are an easy sell. The cable service “is firing on all cylinders,” says Craig Moffett, an analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. According to Rattner, the former board member, “Jim deserves a lot of the credit for that.”

Jim Dolan also distinguished himself after 9/11, taking a leading role in organizing the “Concert for New York City” at the Garden and in ensuring that the money raised was properly accounted for.

But Jim Dolan has had his share of misadventures. Pursuing a goal of Cablevision as an integrated entertainment giant, he purchased the bankrupt Wiz stores and the Clearview Cinemas chain. The Wiz was a flop, posting losses of more than $250 million before it was liquidated, and Clearview has added little to Cablevision’s bottom line.

Then there are the Rangers, the Knicks, and the Garden. When Cablevision assumed full control of all three in 1997, it was considered a triumph for the company, a shiny Manhattan trophy that fortified the company’s sports programming, a critical component of cable television. And the teams would be fun for Jim, who grew up a passionate Rangers fan. Owning them was the realization of a dream.

The intervening years have been closer to a nightmare. The Rangers and Knicks have been afflicted with oddly similar pathologies; salaries are gigantic, but talent is thin and management scattershot. The Rangers haven’t made the playoffs since 1997; the Knicks have fared better, but are light-years away from serious contention. The sports world, not to mention the team’s hard-luck fans, has become bitterly critical of the Dolans. “Over the last six to eight years, they have been among the worst-run franchises in all of professional sports,” says Marc Ganis, a Chicago-based sports-industry consultant.

Isiah Thomas, whom Jim Dolan hired in late 2003 as president of the Knicks, counters that Jim deserves fans’ gratitude for his willingness to spend. “He can run the Garden in such a way that he can make a lot of money, but he has chosen to put the resources into the team,” Thomas says. “There are owners around the league who are not like that.”

There are not many owners, however, who have also gotten mixed up in as many team-related spats as Jim. At practically every step, he has been feuding with somebody. The company has battled the Yankees and Mets, arguably costing Cablevision opportunities to be partners in the teams’ new regional sports channels. He also dumped the Garden’s signature voice, Marv Albert, opening the door for the Nets to scoop up the legendary play-by-play man. (When they move to Brooklyn, having Marv onboard will be an enormous aid in competing for New York fans.) And he is once again warring with Time Warner Cable, which has resulted in Knicks telecasts being unavailable in much of the New York market.

“You have to sit back and wonder: Do these fights make sense?” Ganis says.

In the Garden executive suites, Jim is known for blowing up at subordinates, and there has been a steady exodus of senior managers who have quit or been pushed out the door. Just last October, Jim erupted when presented with the estimates for the hockey broadcast costs on the MSG Network in 2005, which projected a fairly dramatic increase. What his managers tried to explain, as he bellowed at them, was that the 2004 figures had been artificially low because of the NHL lockout (no hockey games to show), and the expectation was that games would resume in 2005.

Soon after the meeting, Mike McCarthy, the president of MSG Network, resigned.

Dolan does not deny his volatile temper, but insists that his behavior at the Garden be viewed in context. When he took over, he says, it was a sclerotic organization with recalcitrant employees who considered themselves lifetime appointees. “Going through a reorganization of this place, I compare it to giving your 5-year-old a fishing rod and reel,” says Dolan. “You turn away for ten minutes and then you turn back and there’s a rat’s nest that used to be the fishing reel. Now it’s your job to unravel it. Trying to reorganize this place was like that. We struggled with it for eighteen months. We had McKinsey in here; they couldn’t figure it out.”

In Dolan’s view, the situation called for “a ton of change,” and that “when you have change, there’s always going to be people who are unhappy.” The run-in with Mike McCarthy was partially about that. “Mike and I didn’t always agree on everything,” he says. “And there was a meeting in here that got loud. Mike and I met right afterward. And I apologized to Mike for getting loud, and I apologized to everybody in the room. It just so happened that it came at one of those times where I had spent an insane amount of effort trying to get people to change. And they just came back to me with the same-old same-olds.”

McCarthy, who now works for Cablevision as a consultant, downplays the significance of the incident. “I made my decisions for a lot of reasons,” he says. “I had a great run. It was just time for a change.”

Dolan felt decidedly less terrible for letting Marv Albert walk, which stung longtime Knicks fans. To them, Albert represented the continuity of the team, the precious link between past and present. He was the fan’s advocate, not a company man, and he held the team to a high standard. To Dolan, Albert was an overpaid ingrate who loved trashing the team. “His basic attitude toward the entire company was ‘Screw you,’ ” says Dolan. And that’s how Marv Albert became history.

Jim has always taken pains to construct a vigorous life outside the office. He seems driven to rack up accomplishments that might distinguish him from his father. He became, for example, a sailing fanatic, entering serious competitions, including one where he spent fourteen days skipping across the Atlantic in a stripped-down craft that had no windows, beds, toilets, or running water. He poured millions of dollars into the effort, hiring the best boat designer and builder, assembling a crew of about twenty sailors, and flying them on the Cablevision jet to regattas around the world. (He says the company was reimbursed.) Unlike many of the tycoons who assemble racing teams, Dolan “liked to steer his own boat,” says Chris Kam, a crew member. But not long after a frustrating regatta in Sardinia, in which he dropped out in the middle of the last race, Dolan disbanded his crew, got rid of the yacht, and quit the sport.

He switched back to his first love and eventually formed JD & the Straight Shot, a blues-rock band filled out with a bunch of employees from the Garden and Radio City, which Cablevision also owns.This he has pursued with the boundless zeal of a teenager, albeit one with spectacular resources at his disposal. He bought a house adjacent to his own in Oyster Bay, converting it to a studio and arranging for band members to fly in on the Cablevision helicopter for practice. In January, just as the fight with his father was reaching full throttle, they opened for the Marshall Tucker Band in New Jersey, and Jim reports, with giddy delight, that he has just signed a distribution deal with Warner Bros., which happens to be owned by his good friend Edgar Bronfman Jr. “They’re not, like, showering me with money,” he admits, proudly handing me a shrink-wrapped CD. “But you know what, it doesn’t matter to me. You have to listen to the CD. Then you will make a decision how real the music is. That’s what a musician wants. So you listen. If you like, we’ll put it on for you now.”

For Dolan, the music has also been a useful distraction from the chaos of his business life. Not that all the news has been bad. His battle with the mayor is going pretty well, proving that in politics, unlike in, say, basketball, money really can buy results. Cablevision has spent more than $22 million on advertising and lobbyists fighting the stadium, plunging Bloomberg’s and Doctoroff’s neatly conceived plans into disarray. While the Knicks stumble and the Rangers sit idle, Jim seems to have found a game he’s good at.

But in other crucial respects, he lives in a state of uncertainty that did not exist only a few months ago. When Chuck remade the Cablevision board, Greenfield, the Wall Street analyst, laid out the implications in a research note to clients. “Jim Dolan in limbo,” he wrote. “With his father essentially overruling him via board member changes, Jim Dolan’s power has been minimalized.”

Jim won’t reveal much about the family dynamics now. Contrary to some reports, he says that it’s not true that his father and he aren’t talking. “When we got angry with each other, we had little cooling-off periods,” he says. “Never anything that lasted more than a day or two.”

His brother Tom, who runs Voom, is, he admits, “a little difficult to deal with.” And his other brother, Patrick, though he voted to keep Voom going, is “trying to stay on the sidelines.” If tomorrow were Thanksgiving, would he be able to join them? “Tomorrow would be awkward,” he says, “but maybe by Thanksgiving we’ll be able to.”

Jim and his father are trying to work through this. Even with the friendlier makeup of the board, Chuck needs to find an alternative means to finance Voom, and Wall Street is practically clamoring for him to sell the cable system. In late January, the analyst Craig Moffett wrote a note that analyzed the situation this way: “Cablevision’s stock has been buoyed by speculation that the disagreements around the Dolan dinner table will lead to Chuck deciding to wash his hands of the whole business, selling Cablevision off in pieces to the highest bidders.”

In a brief phone interview, this is how Chuck characterized his son’s performance as CEO: “He has done a good job for shareholders, and anybody around here who does that, his job is secure.” He also acknowledges the differences they’ve had, saying, “People become impatient with each other. [But] I think that is how a company our size ought to work.”

As for the status of Voom and whether he might break up Cablevision, he did not rule it out. “I think the company has really made up its mind, and I don’t foresee Voom as being a distribution activity of Cablevision in the future … Could there be changes? Could the whole company be sold? Could parts of it be sold? Of course.”

If Chuck is really mad, he could strip Jim of his CEO duties, but still leave him with the Garden. Or he could strip Jim of everything. Nobody really expects that to happen, but then nobody has ever really understood what goes on inside Cablevision.

I asked Jim what he thought of the possibility that his father will dissolve the company.

“It’s completely up to him,” he said. “It won’t change what I do.”

You have no insight into what he might be planning?

“I can tell you my father really likes the satellites. I don’t have much more insight than that.”

Oedipus at the Garden