Program Description: "Rebels"
A shift in government attitude in the 1980s led to the deregulation of markets and a favorable environment for American entrepreneurs. While the era witnessed a challenge to the country's dominance in aerospace and microelectronics, it coincided with an escalating demand for American entertainment and information, today the country's leading export.
Lone individuals, risking much, emerged at the heart of these enterprises. They Made America's "Rebels" program tells the stories of two entrepreneurs who founded landmark information and entertainment companies.
Every network news executive was sure in 1982 that CNN's 24-hour news service was a folly that no one would watch. The brainchild of its colorful founder, Ted Turner, the network exploited the latest satellite and miniature broadcast technology and moved the world one step closer to a global village.
During the 1990s, Turner's broadcast news model was copied by even his most vociferous critics, and a considerable part of his fortune was redirected to the work of the United Nations.
Russell Simmons took rap music from the inner city and transformed it into an international cultural movement crossing boundaries of race, class and geography.
Simmons began in the 1970s as a fledgling promoter of what was then a new breed of street music. By the turn of the 21st century, he directed a multimillion-dollar entertainment and lifestyle company. Co-owner and founder of the rap label Def Jam Records, the Simmons empire includes a film and television division, talent management and clothing design.
Simmons has also given back to the community that gave him his start, with a broad range of initiatives that range from nurturing young poets to promoting voter registration.