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TelevisionWeek's new blog by World Poker Tour boss Steven Lipscomb marks this publication's second blog by a member of the television industry. As the founder of WPT, Steve often is credited with starting the televised poker boom. He's also known to say a controversial thing or two.

Just as Rich Goldfarb, senior VP of sales for National Geographic Channel, offered candid insight into the upfront advertising selling period, Steve plans to pull no punches in discussing the people, practices and pitfalls of the television business.

And remember: TVWeek.com encourages you to respond to what you read here. So feel free to post comments on Steve's blog.

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World Poker Tour



The Big Pitch . . .

July 21, 2006 2:44 PM

Pitch meetings are such a bizarre part of our business. When I was new to the television world, I remember talking at a cocktail party to a production company development executive. She told me her day was always stacked with pitches — not to mention the breakfast meeting, the power lunch, drinks at the hottest new spot in town and, of course, dinner. Quite a lot of activity . . .

Then, when I asked what they had most recently produced — the answer was . . . nothing. In the two years they had been funded and in business, they had not made a single show.

I remember being dumbfounded at the thought of all those people pitching to this woman — thinking that it could transform their life — bring them fortune, fame and success. But, really, if you dared to deconstruct it, they were doing some sort of bizarre performance art. It existed just to exist. In the room . . . in that moment . . .

And, I wondered how many of them would have shown up if they knew the dance they were really doing . . .

All these thoughts come from a pitch meeting I had this week in New York. Admittedly, it is a very different experience when people know who you are and what you have done. But, I was reminded how much I like the dance. As my friend (and TV genius) Al Burton always said, “It’s great to be in show business.” And, indeed, I believe it is.

To have a chance to sit in the room with the innovative programming minds of our day is a great exercise in mental and creative gymnastics. I’ve spent the last five years growing this international sports franchise thing — and haven’t had much time in the pitch room lately.

And, I do love it . . .

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Comments (2)

Melissa:

Hey Steve-
Your most recent entry speaks so much to the answer I planned to post to your first blog, regarding the question why people in TV do what they do.
Certainly, TV, it's a business. And the first order of business of course is generally making a living. There's also something to be said for being in a creative business and the payoff you get from creating something great, lasting and impactful.
But then I was thinking of so many folks who have been doing this "dance" as you call it for so many years to such incredible degrees of success. They've created great programs and great fortunes. They've done it. Made it. ... Roger King is one of those people who came to mind for me when you asked the question.
Mr. King has long been beyond wealthy and already has played such a huge part in putting great television on the air. And still he plugs away at it.
I can't imagine it doesn't have something to do with the love of the "dance," the "game" and being great at the whole thing.
Whenever I've interviewewd Roger King over the years one thing was always so apparent: his love of this business.
The enthusiasm of people like you and him make it such fun to continue covering the business of television....
Melissa Grego, TelevisionWeek

Steve:

Ah, the extraordinary Ms. Melissa Grego.

Outing you . . . it was the article Ms Grego wrote in Daily Variety (picked up on the Reuters) about this crazy TV guy and a Billionaire who were going to put poker on television as a sport that lead to the three calls that eventually led to poker ending up on prime time television.

The industry press has an extraordinary impact on the eqasion. And, it is people who care about what that means like you who make a difference.

Now, I do have a follow-up thought. How do you avoid becoming one of those people who stay in the game -- because it's all they know. I have never met Roger King -- or maybe I did once pitching with Norman Lear. Certainly he and his brother are an example of two of the most successful and creative producers in television history.

And, then what? Isn't that the question you ask? And, then what. Do you have to make a bigger hit because you had a hit and that's what people do who do this. And, then how scary is it to be in a place where no one remembers who you are or what you've done.

Al Burton used to call it Keeping in the Conversation . . .

And, he always seemed to know.

I wonder how often we do what we do because we feel like we have no choice . . . what else would we do?

I think that is why Bill Clinton's suggestion of social entrepreneurship (see my first blog) is a blessing to people like us. There is some place to go. Something else to do . . .

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