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Ted Turner didn't always live on Easy Street.

On his way to his first billion dollars, the cable tycoon missed a payroll, nearly went bankrupt four times and took rash financial chances, he reminded lawyers Saturday.

"You've got to take some desperate chances," he said at a Montana Bar Association breakfast. "That's the only way to get from here to there."

Turner, the vice chairman of Time Warner Inc. and the man who started the 24-hour, all-news CNN television network, was ranked by Forbes magazine this year as No. 38 among the world's richest people, with assets of $7.8 billion.

"To me, business is like war," said Turner, 61. "You have to . . . strike in the middle of the night."

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