I fondly recall the X-Men animated series that ran during the early 1990s, which had a compelling theme tune, a variety of characters and true-to-comic book storylines. It was one of Saban Entertainment’s final forays before the children’s programming company struck gold.
The rise of Power Rangers
Its founder and owner Haim Saban had been toting a cassette around with him wherever he went, showing to potential partners its footage of agile teenagers in spandex fighting jocular alien monsters. This pilot short entitled Bio-Man was an idea that Haim had lifted from Japan’s Super Sentai series, which he was adamant would be a huge hit in the United States. For his enthusiasm, Haim was often laughed at to his face. Tired of being shown the door, Haim forked out his own budget to produce the children’s television programme, which came to be known as Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.
In the slums of Egypt, Haim’s father sold pencils door to door on streets where vigilantes would shoot suspected Jews point blank. Haim, on his part, sold odd trinkets on these perilous dirt roads too and recalls even cleaning manure from barns to make ends meet. The Suez Crisis uprooted him and his Jewish Egyptian family and placed them in Palestine, during the formative days of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“He’s loyal and generous to his friends, but in business he is deadly. If you took all Haim’s money away and took him to a Casbah, gave him some rugs and said, ‘stay here’ — a year later he’d have a billion dollars,” former Chairman and CEO of DIC Entertainment Andy Heyward notably said of his associate.
Rich, powerful and settled down
Forbes-listed Haim had an undeniable knack for making money. He once convinced a businessman that he was part of a better band than his, offered the businessman twice the band’s wages, then offered the band only their regular wage, on condition that they let musically untrained Haim join. He eventually went into music production, but discovered while in Paris that he could make several lifetimes of royalties from the publishing rights of music for children’s programmes, as they licensed and re-licensed around the world. A self-made millionaire, Haim hardly had a hand in producing the innumerable tunes that he provided children’s television programmes, from the likes of M.A.S.K. to Inspector Gadget, for free – they were free so long as their music’s publishing rights were to his name.
He is now married to Cheryl Lyn Flor, a psychologist, former Playboy model and a former Senior Advisor to the United States Mission to the United Nations. She recalls how Haim was dating 39 women when they were courting. They live in an expansive French manor whose embellishments include Chagall and only Chagall paintings, and a garden manicured after the Gardens of Versailles. Saban Entertainment was sold in 2001 to the Walt Disney Company as part of a $5 billion deal, of which $1.7 billion went to Haim, which was about the same amount as Power Rangers’ annual merchandise sales alone.
Supporting his cause: Israel
Friends with the likes of Shimon Peres and Benjamin Netanyahu on affectionate pet name bases, Haim famously remarked in 2010: “I’m a one-issue guy, and my issue is Israel.”
He has donated millions upon millions not only to pro-Israel causes, but also to the Clintons’ political agendas. However, these donations were reportedly meant to yield tax benefits for Haim, who infamously enjoys circumventing taxes, via overseas tax havens, tax shelter companies and rounds upon rounds of audits. His vocal wishes for peace in the Middle East have been tainted by occasional less-Kosher blurts – this Democrat has called for tighter screening of Muslim migrants entering the United States and for the bombing of Iranian fundamentalists – some of which he chose to withdraw, others he still stands by.
In 2010, the ailing Power Rangers franchise was bought back by Saban Brands for a meagre $65 million, which set the wheels in motion for the production of a 25th anniversary blockbuster. The Power Rangers brand is back to being managed and produced by its creator, unfortunately, without the assistance of Haim’s partner in music and television production Shuky Levy. A familiar name in the credits of cartoons like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Levy did not have a written contract for all his work that he had done for his friend Haim, thus he has not seen any of the Saban empire’s copious royalties since Haim and him stopped seeing eye to eye and parted ways.
Future of Power Rangers?
72-year-old Haim has struck new deals with Nicktoons and Nickelodeon for new seasons of Power Rangers, as well as a video game series in the near future. The budget for the new Power Rangers film premiering around the world this week is estimated around $100 million, but with its faithful fan base now a quarter-century older and armed with much greater disposable income, Haim surely must not think that making a loss will be possible. After the hysteria surrounding the new movie dies down, you can be sure that Haim will make another donation and another trip to Israel, where his close friends and mother still reside.
While critics might accuse the revival of the Power Rangers and the Israeli agenda of being indissociable, the new movie, which will feature autistic and homosexual Rangers (sans a dark-skinned Black Ranger) among its multiracial troupe, is quite evidently just a story about heroes in spandex promoting good values, as is the agenda of all multinational entertainment corporations.