Creating Entertainment that Serves Communities

Time Inc. merges with Warner Communications. Time Warner acquires Turner Broadcasting. AOL acquires Time Warner. NBC Television acquires Telemundo, Bravo and Universal Studios. Viacom splits into CBS Corporation and a second Viacom (liquidating the famed Desilu Productions). CBS does a spin-off REIT of CBS Outdoor. CBS spins off CBS Radio. Viacom and CBS merge to create Paramount Global.

Big names in the entertainment industry and big dollar deals. And Richard M. “Rich” Jones ’92, G’95, L’95 has been involved in all of them, and more, including successfully arguing a seminal tax case before the U.S. Court of Claims (CBS Corporation v. United States, No. 10-153T).

Jones majored in accounting, and received his master’s in accounting from Whitman School of Management and his law degree from the College of Law the same year. He also holds an LL.M. in corporate, international and tax law from Boston University School of Law. “Tax issues are prevalent in every single transaction,” says Jones, who is executive vice president, general tax counsel, and chief veteran officer for Paramount Global.

Attorney and CPA Jones says it’s critical to be able to translate the financial implications of every deal into terms that business leaders, boards, judges, policy makers and the general public can understand. He regularly testifies before Congressional committees on the economic benefits that the entertainment industry brings to communities. “We spend about $20 billion a year investing in content, and it’s critical that we recover some of those costs through tax benefits,” says Jones. “The fact is that television productions are the life blood in many cities, supporting countless workers who bring these productions to life. I love this industry because it’s about storytelling but it’s also about serving the hardworking people behind and in front of the cameras.”

The desire to serve others has always driven Jones. He was a non-commissioned officer in the U.S. Army, where he served honorably as a member of the 75th Ranger Regiment and 10th Mountain Division. After six years of service, he was medically retired from the Army after being critically injured when his parachute malfunctioned during an Airborne Assault Training Mission. But he never left his comrades behind, even after earning multiple academic degrees, a clerkship in the New York State Supreme Court, a decade at Ernst & Young in their media, entertainment and transaction advisory services practice, and positions at GE (NBC Universal) and Viacom. He founded the Paramount Veterans Network to support the hundreds of veterans who work at Paramount Global with education, training and employment opportunities.

Jones also serves on the board of the D’Aniello Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) Board, the Office of Veteran and Military Affairs (OVMA) Advisory Board, and the Syracuse University Board of Trustees.

Jones sees his work in the entertainment field as an opportunity to impact the way the entire nation views and supports veterans. “Not only do our shows provide employment and career opportunities for countless veterans and their families, but they bring authenticity to the stories we tell,” says Jones. He cites the example of the CBS hit series, Seal Team, now in its seventh season. One of Jones’ good friends pitched the original idea for the series to CBS leadership and the rest is history.

Jones hears regularly from a Gold Star Mother who loves to watch Seal Team, even as she still grieves for her son who was among the 30 U.S. service members, including 22 Navy Seals shot down in 2011 during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. “This mother texts me each time she watches the show and tells me how it helps her by keeping her son’s memory alive,” says Jones. “I brought her to meet the cast members which reinforced that what they do is more than just playing a character on television.”

“I love having a job where I can practice law at the highest level, driving great value for stakeholders and still serve veterans and entire communities with the kind of entertainment that informs and inspires,” says Jones. “It’s storytelling at its finest. Storytelling with a higher purpose.