L.A. MAGAZINE: How Byron Allen Got the Last Laugh

Byron Allen is already torn. The night is young, the party just beginning to bounce to remixed classic funk and soul. In a shiny black tux and shaved head, the charismatic 61-year-old is in Washington, D.C., on the edge of the night’s red carpet (beige, in this case), intoning about “Black excellence” and “Black ownership” to the press scrum assembled before him. But every minute or so, another esteemed guest from media, entertainment, or politics arrives, and Allen, the host of this shindig, excuses himself and beelines for a fist bump and photo op with Pete Buttigieg, President Biden’s domestic policy advisor Susan Rice, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar . . . .

It’s the night of the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, the annual indulgence where D.C. politicians and the journalists who cover them drop all pretext of objectivity and openly revel in their codependence. For Allen, hosting this after-party at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture is a typically shrewd move in his relentless empire-building. He’s been a recognizable face for decades, first as a young comic and more recently as an increasingly prominent media tycoon. Allen owns the Weather Channel, local TV stations, multiple 24-hour cable channels and streaming networks, and is the producer and distributor of more than 60 syndicated TV shows. Entertainment Studios, the Century City-based company he founded to produce his content, is worth billions. Allen still doesn’t have the profile of a Michael Bloomberg or a Donald Newhouse, but people are finally paying attention. “I’m a 61-year-old overnight sensation,” he says with a laugh. “People just didn’t notice.”

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