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Murdoch's Substitute Son

3:00 PM -- Just when you thought the Murdoch family saga couldn't get more like Turgenev's Fathers and Sons, Jeremy Philips, 33, has been promoted to head Internet acquisition strategy for News Corp., making him its youngest senior executive and the newest member of Rupert Murdoch's inner circle.

Philips' ascension comes less than half-a-year after the unexpected resignation of son Lachlan Murdoch, the older of the two Murdoch brothers and, before his abrupt departure last summer, the presumptive heir to Rupert as chief executive of the sprawling media empire built by his father.

Not only is Philips almost exactly Lachlan's age, he shares a similar background: Australian by birth, he was educated at the University of New South Wales before emigrating to America to graduate from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, which Lachlan's brother James attended as an undergrad. (Unlike Philips, James never graduated, dropping out to found his record label, Rawkus Entertainment, which he later sold to News Corp.). Reared in the tonier precincts of Manhattan, Lachlan attended the Aspen Country Day School in Colorado before graduating from Princeton and essentially went to work for his father after college. Philips was a McKinsey consultant and directed strategic investments at Citigroup before joining News Corp.

What's more, Philips is stepping into the role in which James, now the CEO of U.K. satellite TV company BSkyB and the odds-on favorite to take over when his father finally dies (Rupert seems unlikely ever to retire), lost the company $300 million in failed dotcom investments in the late 1990s.

Unlike either Murdoch brother, Jeremy Philips has never been known to produce hip-hop albums, get tattoos and earrings, or date models and actresses. If I were James Murdoch, I'd be watching my back about now.

Just to keep things interesting in the Murdoch family, which sounds more and more like the Borgias as the years go by, Lachlan and James are said to be waging a behind-the-arras effort to keep stepmother Wendi Deng, who is barely older than the boys, from taking over a controlling interest in News Corp. upon Dad's demise.

Bet it was a fun holiday around the Christmas tree at the Murdoch household!

— Richard Martin, Senior Editor, Unstrung

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