When offered the position of executive in charge for the Frontline film that would explore the polarizing figure Jeff Bezos and his business practices, Stuart Fero jumped at the opportunity. The resulting Frontline: Amazon Empire: The Rise and Reign of Jeff Bezos garnered an Emmy win in 2021 and was nominated for a duPont-Columbia award the same year. Fero brought with him a history of exceptionalism recognized with Emmy nominations (Frontline: War on the EPA, Frontline: A Subprime Education/The Education of Omarina), Peabody Award nominations and wins (Frontline: Policing the Police, Frontline: The Facebook Dilemma), and more. Known for an unflinching commitment to detailed inspection and collaborating with equally committed professionals, Stuart was a great match for this production as with several other Frontline films. This two-hour long documentary film delves into the tactics Bezos used to transform his small company into the present day boundless entity that is Amazon.
Frontline: Amazon Empire: The Rise and Reign of Jeff Bezos was produced by Fero and a small team over the course of an entire year. As the world’s richest man in 2021, Bezos was no stranger to public scrutiny but there were so many ways to interpret his story and that of his company that it demanded the Frontline team become deeply immersed in the variations to unearth a clear perspective. The bar for editorial standards is understandably high on Frontline films and research is a long meticulous process. With a company such as Amazon, which has its fingers in so many different pies, there are a lot of vastly different topics which require in-depth attention. As the EIC, Stuart was responsible for budgeting and finance, legality and compliance, as well as running teams to actually shoot, edit, and deliver. Essentially, he created and maintained a culture that enabled the staff to work at their highest level. Fero’s commitment to productions like this is deeply rooted in his own personal attachment to investigative news programs. He relates, “Being brought up in the UK on legacy documentary brands like the BBC’s Panorama (the world’s longest-running news television program) and Channel 4’s Dispatches gave me a passion for hard-hitting docs and investigative journalism, not only to produce them but also to consume them in my own time. The plethora of streaming services has produced a never-ending slew of documentaries of varying quality and success, so to be able to work on a premium doc series like Frontline is a dream come true.”
The attention given to Frontline: Amazon Empire: The Rise and Reign of Jeff Bezos propelled it to new heights and audiences as America entered the COVID lockdown and Amazon stock skyrocketed. As it became integrated into the daily lives of most Americans, the question of how Amazon arrived at this powerful position became more relevant than ever. Does the benevolent effect of the service come as a Faustian cost of business practices and employee welfare? The industry and the public perceived all these questions and their presentation as immensely valuable, as confirmed by Frontline: Amazon Empire: The Rise and Reign of Jeff Bezos Emmy win against such competitors as CNN Films, The Wall Street Journal and National Geographic. James Jacoby (Director/Writer/Producer of Frontline: Amazon Empire: The Rise and Reign of Jeff Bezos) directs credit for the film’s success towards Stuart Fero declaring, “I’ve worked in this business for a long time and can safely say Stuart is in a league of his own. He has an uncanny ability to make the impossible possible. He always finds creative solutions to seemingly intractable problems. When we’re in a pinch, which happens often, Stuart is always calm, cool and collected; that’s exactly what you need from an executive in charge of production when the stress is high.”
Writer: Arlen Gann