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Posts Tagged ‘Marc Graboff’

David Zinczenko, Jack Kliger and The Man Most Unlikely to Wind Up at Michael’s

LunchAtMichaelsAs faithful readers know, we endeavor to give our rundown of the movers and shakers who show up at Michael’s every Wednesday a cheeky spin so as not to take ourselves too seriously about the whole power lunch thing. Today, aside from the obvious reason not to make light of an already featherweight subject, I’m too dumbstruck by a new acquaintance I made while making my rounds in the dining room to come up with a pithy opener.

When TV Guide‘s acting CEO Jack Kliger motioned me to come over and meet the handsome young man dressed in a T-shirt and jeans, I couldn’t imagine who he might be. An actor starring in a new crime procedural for CBS? A new reality star ready for his close-up? A family friend getting the full-court “Lunch at Michael’s” treatment? Well, I was half right. “This is Jonathan Alpeyrie,” said Jack. “He’s a combat photographer who was kidnapped in Syria and just released a few weeks ago.” The French-American photographer told me he was on his third trip to Syria when he was abducted at gunpoint by masked men at a checkpoint near Damascus and was held for 81 days. During his harrowing time spent in captivity, he was often chained to a bed and narrowly escaped execution after enraging a guard because he went to the bathroom without getting permission. The solider held a machine gun to Jonathan’s head before being called off by the other soldiers standing guard. Jonathan didn’t seem to want to talk much about his experience, so Jack, who is a close friend of Jonathan’s father, filled in the blanks.

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Lauren Berger Writes New Book for Young People Entering "Real World"

Lauren Berger Welcome to the Real WorldCareer Expert, Lauren Berger, releases her second book, Welcome to the Real World: Finding Your Place, Perfecting Your Work, and Turning Your Job Into Your Dream Career (Harper Business), on April 22nd. In this book, Berger shares everything she wishes someone told her after graduation. Her book is the essential guide to anyone starting their first, second, or third job. She encourages readers to be fearless, step outside of their comfort zones, and go after what they want.

Summer’s Social Swans, Kim Kardashian’s BFF and the Woman Behind Mad Men

1003_mockup.gifWhere else could you possibly find friends of reality stars (Come on, you can’t expect an A-lister sighting every week) and the last vestiges of Cafe Society all in one room? If it’s Wednesday, at Michael’s, of course. I couldn’t even begin to do justice to the head-spinning scene there today, so I’ll just let the roster of what passes for celebrity sightings these days speak for itself.

I was so excited about today’s lunch, because I was meeting the woman responsible for greenlighting one of my favorite shows, Mad MenChristina Wayne has had an amazing career  – she also is responsible for getting Breaking Bad on air — and I found her story fascinating. Had it not been for Christina’s spot-on instincts, Matt Weiner‘s script, which had been floating around for eights years at that point, might not ever have seen the light of day.  The former AMC senior vice-president of scripted series and mini-series is now president of Cineflix Studios and executive producer of the new BBC America series, Copper — but I’m getting ahead of myself.

A born and bred New Yorker who grew up on the Upper East Side, Christina decided to move back after 12 years in Los Angeles for personal reasons in 2005 (“There was no one left to date!”) and after receiving a call from a friend asking if she’d be interested in working with AMC. Up until that point, the network was pretty much airing nothing but old movies. “I had no idea what AMC was. I thought he was talking about the movie theater chain,” said Christina. Back then, the basic cabler was looking to develop scripted content; Christina signed on as a consultant as the net’s “creative voice,”  but didn’t want to tell her screenwriter friends since, at the time, working in television seemed like a step down and “an embarrassment.”

Diane Clehane and Christina Wayne
Diane Clehane and Christina Wayne

She started by calling everyone she knew in L.A. and wound up with the script for Broken Trail, a huge hit starring Robert Duvall that got the greenlight in eight days. When she read the script for Mad Men on a flight back from Los Angeles, she knew she had something special. AMC wasn’t able to get a studio to pick it up, so the pilot was self-financed for $3.3 million and the rest, as they say, is television history. Without a huge marketing budget, Christina attributes a lot of Mad Men‘s buzz to the nonstop coverage it received in The New York Times who covered the show from every angle possible. “The show was their lovechild,” she said. And still is, I’d say.

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Luck Jokes Do Not Thrill HBO’s Michael Lombardo

And the winner for PETA’s new least favorite television executive goes to former CKX president Marc Graboff, who, sitting on a Variety TV Summit panel discussion on the “state of the global TV industry,” suddenly went all Friar’s Club on the room. Asked for his favorite show on television, Graboff began his answer: “Not to beat a dead horse… Sorry Michael…”

“Michael” would be HBO’s president of programming Michael Lombardo, who did not look pleased. Plenty of groans all around the room in solidarity. Too soon, for Luck jokes, Graboff. Too soon.

We caught up with Lombardo after the panel asked him about the hit his network took on Luck’s cancellation. After expressing remorse at the deaths of three horses that ultimately precipitated Luck‘s demise, Lombardo noted that, emotional tragedy aside, the network is in position to absorb the financial hit the show’s cancellation inflicted.

“We’re not dependent on any one show. That’s the place we are and we need to be to be successful.

“We don’t monetize each of our shows the same way. Shows like Game of Thrones and True Blood are quite successful financially, and that allows us to experiment and takes risks.”

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Vivi Zigler Promoted to President of NBC Universal Digital Entertainment

5649.gifVivi Zigler, the woman who brought you (the marketing for) Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and Celebrity Poker, has been promoted yet again within NBC Universal, where she has worked for more than 10 years.

Congratulations, Vivi!

Press release:

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LAT in 90 Seconds

sorkmist.jpgSorkin Finds Losing Is A Bitch: In a sit-down with Aaron Sorkin, Patrick Goldstein (an avowed Sorkin fan, like ourselves) writes that Studio 60 failed on the weight of its own bad premise more than anything else. Sorkin, though, seems to blame a number of factors — not the least of which is the fact that everyone in town wanted it to fail: “TV has a very measurable effect on our national mood. When TV gets bitchy and pissy, you find Americans getting bitchy and pissy too.”

benstf.jpgCarrying A Joke Too Far: Ben Silverman and Marc Graboff, new co-chairmen of NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios got bloggers, like, um, us to announce that Rosie O’Donnell will appear on Donald Trump’s The Apprentice. But it’s not happening.

becksankle.jpgBecks Ankle Rankles Some: Vaunted soccer star/metrosexual-about-town David Beckham will have to delay his debut. Why are you looking at us blankly? He was supposed to start playing soccer for the Galaxy, don’t you remember? Soccer. That’s why he’s here. Never mind. Just keep looking at his pretty pictures.

Barnum Awards Move back to LA/Silverman, Tisch, Blackley Honored ,

ptbarnum.jpg

The annual P.T. Barnum Awards, which honor Tufts
University alumni
in the arts & entertainment industries, are going to producer Steve Tisch, CAA’s video game guru Seamus Blackley and man of the hour, Ben Silverman. At next week’s ceremony at CAA, they’ll receive bronze statues of P.T. Barnum’s famous Jumbo the Elephant.

Silverman gets Jumbo all to himself, but he has to share his new NBC co-chair title with Marc Graboff. Grab-on, more likely.