Power players and their children -- The children of Michael Eisner, Rupert Murdoch, and other Hollywood magnates follow in their footsteps

By Erin Richter
Updated October 25, 1996 at 04:00 AM EDT

Talent may breed talent, but does power beget power? Several of the 101 most powerful have children trying to make it in an industry that’s striped by their parents’ shadows. Here’s a bunch of coconuts who haven’t fallen far from the Hollywood palm trees:

Currently making the rounds with his 11-minute, F/X-heavy sci-fi directorial debut, Recon, is Breck Eisner, 26, son of Walt Disney chairman and CEO Michael. Starring Peter Gabriel and Elizabeth Pena, the short recently received raves at the Venice Film Festival and is designed as the prologue to a planned $25 million feature. ”I know what people will say,” Breck says. ”[But] the proof is up there on the screen.”

”I don’t know if [my father] is as famous as those other guys on the list,” says Rupert Murdoch’s son James, 23, who dropped out of Harvard in 1995 to start the New York-based record label Rawkus Entertainment with two friends. But he admits that celebrity has its privileges: ”I mean you’re talking to me, that’s one thing.” He plans to release 23 full-length albums next year from a roster that includes hip-hoppers the Rose Family and the electro-industrial Whorgasm. With two siblings already in the family business (Elisabeth, 27, is general manager of broadcasting for satellite firm B Sky B; Lachlan, 24, is an executive at News Limited), James says he was careful to make sure his parents understood what he planned to do. ”They were a little upset that I dropped out,” he says, ”as any parent would be, but that’s about it.”

”I always knew I wanted to write,” says Robert Redford’s screenwriter son, James, 34, whose passion for the American West (where the majority of his work is set) stems from his childhood in Utah. With his adaptation of novelist Tony Hillerman’s Navajo mystery Skinwalkers (with a reported $14 million budget) set to go before cameras next spring, Redford says that his career has been very much like that of other screenwriters — with one difference: ”I’ve had one of the best filmmakers in the business as my role model and mentor.”

No celebrity offspring could be as dogged by reports of favoritism as nighttime-soap magnate Aaron Spelling’s acting kids. Now in her seventh year as Beverly Hills, 90210‘s perky Donna, Tori, 23, has expanded into the realm of made-for-TV movies (including Mother, May I Sleep With Danger?). Her brother, Randy, 18, formerly of his father’s Malibu Shores, has been cast in Spelling’s first daytime drama, the upcoming Sunset Beach. And while the children from Clint Eastwood’s first marriage made early big-screen debuts alongside Dad (Kyle in 1982’s Honkytonk Man, and Alison in 1984’s Tightrope), they have carved out careers of their own. Alison, 23, has worked as a model, and Kyle, 26, plays bass in a jazz quartet set to record its first album for Columbia.

Since Lenny Waronker, cohead of DreamWorks Records, came from a musical family (one of the Chipmunks was named for his father, Simon, who was a Liberty Records executive), his kids have a tradition to keep alive. Joey is a drummer currently touring with Beck, while Anna, 24, is the singer for the Los Angeles power-pop quartet called — yes, it’s lowercase with a period — that dog., whose third album will be released (by DGC Records) in February. Anna is familiar with charges of nepotism. ”I think most people want to cut someone down immediately and they find whatever they can,” she says. ”But ultimately it’s about the music, not about who raised whom.”