La Cañada's Gordon Crawford leaving Capital Group to focus on improving journalism

It was Crawford who basically forced the resignation of Steve Case from the top spot at AOL Time Warner. Malone, Turner and Crawford huddled in Malone's office to pick a triggerman, and the investor drew the short straw.

"Ted said he couldn't do it because he was a board member and John said he couldn't do it because he had too many commercial relationships with Time Warner," Crawford said. "It fell on me to talk with Steve."

With Crawford, however, his investment choices alone usually did the talking and he was often ahead of the curve. In 2001 he dumped almost 66 million shares of Disney after he soured on then-CEO Michael Eisner, who was eventually forced out in 2005.

Although Crawford has become social friends with many of the CEOs he has bet on, he's never let that stop him from telling them when he thinks they're messing up, albeit very politely.

"He can basically tell you to go to hell and you'll ask for directions," cracked his close pal and business associate Michael Burns, vice chairman of Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. (Capital owns 12% of Lions Gate).

For all the hobnobbing Crawford does with Hollywood's movers and shakers, he's steered clear of the public spotlight, rarely granting interviews. When Crawford has something to say, "he tells you at lunch, not in a blog," Warner Bros. Chairman Barry Meyer said.

Crawford is also given high marks for being prescient. Meyer said it was Crawford who warned Hollywood executives that piracy was a serious threat to their business.

"He was the first one who really flagged it for me as something other than a fringe behavior you live with," Meyer said.

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-- Joe Flint, Los Angeles Times

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