"I had been fired from Fox about the same
time he left Fox, so it was only natural for us to keep in touch through that period."
Q: How are you being financed?
A: It's actually private and complex, but I have a negative pickup
arrangement with Fox. That's the nature of the deal.
Q: How does a negative pickup work?
A: Just because it's a confidential business issue, I won't go into it any more
Q: What can you tell me about your television project?
A: I'm doing two things right now. One is I have the movie production deal
and the second thing that I'm doing is helping start up and produce shows
for Q2, which is another cable channel for QVC. It will start airing on what is
currently a fashion shopping channel, and, if all goes well, Q2 will become its
own second channel.
Q: Will Q2 integrate many of the home-shopping attributes of QVC?
A: It will be fundamentally shopping. The point of departure is that it
appeals to people who are not QVC shoppers, which is obviously a huge
universe. It'll be aimed at a more active audience. Initially it will target
people who buy from catalogs, but don't buy from Home Shopping Network
or QVC. That's a pretty large stroke of people.
Q: What kind of programming will that be?
A: The innovation of this will be more in the type of merchandise that will
be chosen. From a broadcasting and production point of view, we'll try to
make it as interesting as possible, but I wouldn't mislead the audience
because at its most minimalist, it will be a person trying to sell goods in
real-time on television. It will resemble Home Shopping Network and QVC
unequivocally. It will be differentiated by its merchandise.
Q: I've heard that Qs will feature segments like "How to Create a Bachelor's
Kitchen" and "Finding a Computer That's Meant for You." Is that the type of
stuff you're working on ?
A: Those are indicative. I haven't outlined specifically which categories of
things I'll do. Hopefully, the categories that I do will have a signature to
them that would be typical of the sensibility I hope to bring. But it's too
early to tell. We're really talking about an air date in the second quarter of
next year. That's really quite a bit of time between now and broadcast.
Q: How did the Q2 project come about?
A: I've been very much in touch with Barry Diller (the CEO and chairman of
QVC) since he departed from Fox. I had been fired from Fox about the same
time he left Fox, so it was only natural for us to keep in touch through that
period. The thing I'm doing with Barry is starting up a satellite Los Angeles
operation for Q2.
Q: Were you surprised that Diller chose QVC as his next project?
A: I had discussions with him and I knew which way he was going. From
that point of view it wasn't a surprise. I thought it was a great choice.
Q: Do you think it's a great choice because he stands to make billions from
A: No, I don't think that's why it's a great choice. If you view business and
commerce as merely to make money, I think you're destined for
unhappiness or failure. I doubt that money is really a factor for him. It's
certainly part of the game, but it's only one element. I think it's a great
choice because it's an opportunity to change the viewing and buying habits
of America. That's a really fun challenge. There aren't many situations in
life where you can take a company and have the potential for really
changing the way people do things.
Q: What about these rumors we've been hearing that you and Diller and
planning to mastermind a fifth television network called Best TV?
A: They're inaccurate. Honestly, I don't know what Best TV is. I have no
idea where that rumor comes from, so I can't speak to it because it's a
mystery to me. It's like savying I'm going to marry Princess Di. It's an
invention of somebody's, not mine.
Q: Michael Linder, the creator of America's Most Wanted, said you have
a way of looking at television like you had just arrived from Mars. Why is it
necessary to view TV like a being from another planet?
A: It's very simple. It's a burden to have too much knowledge of the way
television is made or film is made. You can't think about it too much. It has
to come naturally and organically, and hopefully, from an original point of
view. When that happens you have a tremendous probability of success.
You also have a tremendous probability of failure, but at least you have
raised the odds of success by trying to break convention. Frankly, in all
stages of business, you should try to counter-program, to do something that
is different. If you try to do something the same, you're up against
somebody who's doing the same thing -- and better and bigger. There's no
point in that.
Q: Recent surveys indicate that people are getting tired of reality-based
television. Do you sense that reality programming, which you helped
pioneer at Fox TV, is starting to wear thin?
A: I should hope so. The shows that I developed and put on the air at Fox
are now literally four or five years old, namely America's Most
Wanted in 1988 and Cops in 1989. At that point in time, there
wasn't the tag "reality television". There wasn't any category -- there were
just interesting programs. I would agree completely. I would have agreed
in 1990 that these categories are getting tired. That's why when I was at
Fox I didn't seek to produce any more reality programs after America's
Most Wanted and Cops.