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Posts Tagged ‘David Zaslav’

Barbara Walters, Joe Kernen and One Republican’s Response to the Debate

1003_mockup.gifAfter last week’s head-spinning scene where real-life democrats took campaign advice from fictional politicians (Chris Noth, you’ve got my vote), I thought I’d pretty much covered the landscape of presidential politics among the Wednesday Michael’s crowd. Nothing doing. Before I could settle in for my lunch with PR maven Leslie Stevens and cosmetics entrepreneur Patti Pao, CNBC’s Joe Kernen called me over to meet Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin who was on the air with Joe earlier today deconstructing last night’s debates (We suggest a whip and a chair for the moderator of next week’s match-up) and is scheduled to appear on Sean Hannity‘s broadcast on Fox this evening.

The guys told me they were looking for “equal time,” since last week’s column was all about the democratic point of view. I’m always happy to chat with Joe whose fabulously smart 12-year-old daughter, Blake Kernen is one of my favorite young writers.  Not surprisingly, Senator Johnson told me he thought Mitt Romney won the debate hands down. “He shattered the caricature (the Obama campaign) has been pushing. It’s hard to paint that picture when (Romney) came out so strong and showed such a command of the issues. He  offered the specifics that Obama did not. Last night did nothing to stop the momentum (Romney) has been gathering.” He also called out the president for being “purposely misleading” on Libya.  While the senator admitted the president was “a little more energetic” he concluded, “He’s got nothing.”

Senator Johnson, who predicts it’s going to be a ”close election,” says Vice President Joe Biden‘s “rude” performance during his debate with Representative Paul Ryan had a lingering negative effect on the president’s favorable ratings and pointed to CNN’s recent poll which showed most viewers gave last night’s segment on the economy to Romney as an indication that the republican challenger is winning on the issue voters care most about. “In both debates, Romney showed that he can work with the other side. Americans have to ask themselves, ‘Do we want four more years of gridlock and a president who doesn’t know how to lead?”

Leslie Stevens, David Patrick Columbia, Patti Pao and Diane Clehane

Things lightened up considerably when I joined Leslie and Patti at our table to talk about the launch of Patti’s new skincare line Restorsea, which debuted at Bergdorf Goodman on Monday. Smart, savvy and absolutely passionate about skincare, Patti has built an impressive track record in the beauty business with stints at Avon and Elizabeth Arden. The Harvard Business School graduate introduced glycolic acid to the beauty industry and made Avon’s Anew the industry standard that is today.

She has continued to search out the latest innovations for the luxury market in her own consulting firm Pao Principle which she launched in 2005. Utilizing her deep ties to China, Patti created a survey asking 353 billionaires in the country (yes, you read that right) questions relating to handbags and fine jewelry. Doing so created a much sought after database when the survey findings made The New York Times, Women’s Wear Daily, Forbes and Fortune. That stroke of marketing genius branded her LVMH’s luxury expert, and she picked up three clients in Norway which turned out to be a fateful turn of events.

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Oprah, Morgan Freeman and Mythbusters: Discovery Woos Advertisers and Media Buyers at Upfront Soiree

Yesterday evening Discovery Communications held its annual upfront presentation, wooing advertisers and media buyers, while previewing upcoming programming and networks.

With a suite of channels that includes Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet and OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, there was plenty of ground to cover.

Luckily, they had Oprah there to sell it.

Yes, talk show queen turned media mogul Oprah Winfrey herself was in attendance at Jazz at Lincoln Center, and revealed the 2011/2012 OWN programming slate on stage.

She was joined by Rosie O’Donnell, who will be making her return to daytime with a talk show on OWN later this year. O’Donnell performed a song and dance routine with a troupe of male dancers.

Discovery had other big names in attendance, inducing actor Morgan Freeman, who hosts and produces the program “Through the Wormhole” on Science, and magicians Penn & Teller, who have a new show “Penn & teller’s Secrets of the Universe” on Discovery later this year. Billy Ray Cyrus also unveiled his new show for TLC, “Homecoming,” which reunites military men and women with their families, while SNL’s Andy Samberg told some jokes in advance of his gig as “Chief Shark Officer” during 2011′s Shark Week.

FishbowlNY also spotted:

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Joel Klein, Diana Taylor and the December Diehards

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— DIANE CLEHANE

It was good to be back on the Michael’s beat after a two week absence (Word to the wise: Get that flu shot!). I’m happy to report the monsoon-like rains didn’t keep those dining room diehards away, although the mood was a bit more subdued than usual. The place was festively decked out with holiday finery though, and we particularly liked the Christmas carols being piped in. God knows you don’t hear those enough around town.

I was joined today by my good friend Dr. Robi Ludwig who managed to squeeze in our lunch between her appearance this morning on Today discussing options in caring for one’s aging parents and a spot this evening on Jane Velez Mitchell’s chatfest on HLN. Between weighing in on the issues that keep us all up at night on every show you could possibly name, Robi still manages to see a full slate of patients in her own private practice as a psychologist. Funny coincidence: none other than fame addict Kate Gosselin, who, I’m sure, will be discussed in plenty of therapy sessions for the next several decades, shared Today’s green room with Robi this morning. The deluded mother hen appeared to talk about the reports that her children are having anger issues and defend her decision to keep them in front of the cameras. Nope, no issues there. Robi reports that Kate brought along hunky bodyguard Steve Neild for protection. We all know how dangerous those hallways at 30 Rock can be!

After Robi and I finished dishing about Kate, she told me all about her new line of jewelry set to debut next month on ShopNBC.  She’s calling her collection, Vice Mari (Romanian for ‘big dreams’). The pieces will be sterling silver and gold vermeil with genuine stones, and the designs will all have “symbolic meaning.” Why do a jewelry line? “I wanted to do something to make people feel good without therapy,” says Robi. Makes sense to me.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. The “Imber Gang”: Dr. Gerald Imber, Jeff Greenfield, Jerry Della Femina, Michael Kramer and Andy Bergman.

2. PMK/HBH managing director Cindi Berger

3. Producer Terry Allen Kramer, looking chic as ever.

4. Discovery’s main man David Zaslav

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Oprah, Pushed Out of Broadcast TV by Discovery Execs, Tells Fortune She ‘Wasn’t Pleased’

Oprah Winfrey, who started the historic 25th and final season of her eponymous show, begins the next phase of the career on January 1, 2011.

With Discovery Communications at the helm, Winfrey goes from her own show to own network—OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network.

The channel is taking over for Discovery Health.

Winfrey tells Fortune magazine that the courting by Discovery wasn’t easy. She recalls CEO David Zaslav saying ‘I need more of you’ in order to make the deal happen.

Not only was Zaslav demanding more hours from Winfrey on OWN, but he insisted she walk away from broadcast TV entirely.

‘…If you’re going to be in, you need to be all in.’ Zaslav told Winfrey.

“I wasn’t pleased.” Winfrey tells Fortune. “I wasn’t pleased at all.”

Behind-the-scenes details of the show the media mogul Winfrey, 56, eventually agreed to double her on-air presence on OWN to 70 hours annually.

Part of her workload includes hosting Oprah’s Next Chapter, a globetrotting interview show. “So that’s my all-in commitment,” Winfrey says.

New Year, New Technology: 3D TV

3d glasses.jpgCould 3D TV be the hot new thing for the New Year?

Hot on the heels of news of ESPN‘s announcement of plans to launch a 3D sports channel in June, Discovery Communications, Sony and IMAX announced a joint venture that would produce the first 24/7 3D television network in 2011.

Discovery, which owns the Discovery Channel and TLC, will provide the network services for the venture, which will offer programming including “natural history, space, exploration, adventure, engineering, science and technology, motion pictures and children’s programming,” the companies said. Both Sony’s CEO Sir Howard Stringer and Discovery’s CEO David Zaslav called the project “groundbreaking.”

It looks like 3D channels are shaping up to become the TV revolution that HD has been for the past few years. More networks are likely to follow. We’ll keep our fingers crossed for Food Network 3D.

Press release after the jump

ESPN to launch 3D network in JuneUSA Today

Related: Former Fox Entertainment Prez Liguori Named COO At Discovery

(Photo via flickr)

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Mirror Awards Take Heat For Honoring Huffington

mirror.pngAdvertising Age‘s Simon Dumenco is outraged that Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications is awarding Arianna Huffington its Fred Dressler Lifetime Achievement Award at next week’s Mirror Awards, and not just because AdAge has never won a Mirror prize. Dumenco is upset because, to him, Huffington represents all that is wrong in the world of journalism right now.

Dubbing Huffington’s Mirror Award the “Most Bitterly Ironic Media Award” in his column today, Dumenco said that the Newhouse school, which trains journalists, “should know better than to honor a woman who thinks journalists should work for free!”

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Lunch: Barry Diller (on a Vespa!), Harvey Weinstein & Judge Judy

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— DIANE CLEHANE

Maybe it was because it finally stopped raining for five minutes, but the power-lunchers were out in force today at Michael’s. There was a crowd gathering in the lounge before noon waiting for tables. Of course, most of the regulars breezed in at their appointed hours, making sure they had plenty of time for glad-handing before settling in for some serious dish. Harvey Weinstein and Barry Diller did their fair share of hand shaking before getting down to business at separate tables.

I was lunching today with public relations powerhouse Lisa Linden and Tom O’Brien, president and general manager of WNBC. Tom had plenty to talk about, since these days it seems you can’t go anywhere without an NBC star beaming out from a TV set in a growing number of spots. Look for that to continue, says Tom. With the newscasts on WNBC-TV, the fledgling lifestyle channel New York Nonstop (now in 5 million homes), NBCNewYork.com and Taxi TV (in 5,500 cabs and growing), “We have the ability to get our content out across multiple platforms and reach people at any time of the day,” says Tom. Now the network has gone underground with their latest digital out-of-home effort, NBC in Transit, with video of news and NBC Universal entertainment programming broadcast on PATH trains between NYC and New Jersey. “We’re excited about this new way to reach an audience who isn’t waiting for news. It’s another great way for keeping people informed.” Coming soon: more televisions on the platform in Newark. Stay tuned…

I told Tom I have a particular soft spot for those adorable spots with Jimmy Fallon and that cuddly bear cub that seem to be playing in every taxi I’m in. “He’s doing very well,” reports Tom, who says Conan O’Brien‘s new show is set to debut June 1 and there will be an announcement about Jay Leno‘s new primetime show in two weeks. We’re all ears…

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. The ‘Imber Gang’: Dr. Gerald Imber, Jerry Della Femina, Michael Kramer and Andy Bergman

2. My new pal Susan Silver, Abby Ellin of The New York Times and Judy Twersky

3. Andrew Stein and a mystery gent…

4. Barry Diller and an unidentified young fellow. Here’s a fun fact: Barry is a mogul on the move. I happened to catch him suiting up for a quick getaway after lunch as he slipped into a windbreaker and donned a helmet and sunglasses before revving up his Vespa and disappearing into midtown traffic.

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It’s Oprah’s World, We Just Live In It

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Discovery Communications and Oprah Winfrey announced that the Discovery Health network will be turned over to Winfrey next year, becoming OWN–the Oprah Winfrey Network. From AP:

The cash-free transaction involved Winfrey turning over her Web site to Discovery, while the communications company makes her chairman of the network, which is currently seen in 68 million homes, said David Zaslav, Discovery Communications chief.

Angela Shapiro-Mathes To Head TLC

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Discovery Communications has hired Angela Shapiro-Mathes to head TLC. She was President of Fox Television Studios.

TLC has been rudderless since David Abraham left in February, and the new head of Discovery, David Zaslav, wants an LA presence for TLC. The network’s mandate used to be “lifelong learning for viewers who want to grow up, not old”, which makes it sound like a bran cereal.
Now, TLC is supposed to get more appealing to women. How the addition of American Chopper to the line-up helps accomplish that isn’t clear.

TLC has been known for re-treads of BBC shows, as well as a mish-mash of programming with Miami Ink, Big World, Little People, and Fake Baboon Ass and House Demolition Challenge.

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In The Trades

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With the exit of a number of top executives, Discovery Channel might end the trifecta of sharks, motorcycles and tattoos that have been the network’s mainstays in recent years. David Zaslav, the recently appointed CEO of Discovery Communications, announced that Jane Root will oversee the Science Channel and Discovery Channel and Marjorie Kaplan will run Animal Planet Media and Discovery Kids Media.

South by Southwest announced the film line up for Austin-based festival. Docs showing include Doubletime, an exploration of the culture of competitive jump-roping and the anti-consumerism film What Would Jesus Buy?, produced by Morgan Spurlock. Scott Frank’s bank-robbery thriller The Lookout will open the event; Miramax is releasing the movie later in the month.

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Wal-Mart launches a movie-down load service, with the full blessing of the studios. This film probably won’t be available.

MGM jumps into the direct-to-video pool, with Jason Weiss overseeing the new division. Weiss has experience with bad movies, having been at MTV Films where he worked on The Dirt, The Suffering, and so on.

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