Deborah Barrack, the longtime CBS business executive who helped lead the Eye Network’s transition to television, died Saturday after a battle with cancer. She was 65 years old.
Barak was widely respected in the industry as a sharp negotiator and shrewd businessman. Among the many fundamental agreements she led for the network was the In 2000, “Survivor” had its first licensing deal. She also helped the company revive the “Star Trek” franchise in the early years of streaming content development through an innovative global deal with Netflix. . She spent 35 years with CBS, beginning in 1985 as a broadcast consultant for the West Coast.
“Debbie was a mentor and dear friend to many of us at CBS,” said CBS Studios president David Stapf. “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.
“It made her a rare human unicorn who was equal parts intimidating, smart as hell, and incredibly compassionate,” Stapf recalled. She was my partner, my best friend and someone who made me a better person.
Another longtime CBS executive, Amy Reisenbach, who was recently promoted to president of entertainment, said Barrack helped guide her to the top programming post.
“Debbie was always fair and compassionate, even when he negotiated hard. She was a mentor to dozens of people at CBS, including me. I can truly tell you that I would not be in this job without her mentorship, guidance and unwavering faith in me,” Reisenbach wrote in a memo to CBS staff. She was of pure class, intelligence and goodness. Everything is small in the world today.
His long-time colleague Barak said he was “wise, fierce and considerate to all.” Longtime CBS Entertainment president Nina Tassler has worked with Barack for more than two decades.
“Her business acumen and sophisticated negotiating skills are matched by her humanity and courtesy. Working together for more than 20 years has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life,” said Tassler. “Her sophisticated intellect and deep appreciation for artists make Debbie world class. A few had countless special abilities. Unassuming and press-shy, she was loved by her employees and creative executives in the company and the industry as a whole. A mentor and friend to many during her stellar career, Debbie was a cornerstone of the network’s success. Above all, her moral compass treats everyone with grace and dignity.
After graduating from UCLA and Loyola Law School, Barak worked as an associate for O’Melveny & Myers before joining CBS. In the year In 2010, she was promoted to executive VP of business operations for the CBS network. Five years later, she was promoted to president of commercial operations for CBS Entertainment. Barack is retiring from CBS in 2020.