Art After Commerce

Oct 11, 2004  •  Post A Comment

What do “Monday Night Football” and “Malibu Morning” have in common? They were both produced by Don Ohlmeyer, the colorful and oft-honored producer of everything from the Olympics, golf and TV movies to must-see lineups on NBC. “Malibu Morning” is the name of a painting that may end up hanging in the first exhibit of Mr. Ohlmeyer’s contemporary paintings, Oct. 23-Nov. 28 at BGH Gallery at the Bergamot Station Arts Center in Santa Monica, Calif.

Since Mr. Ohlmeyer ended his tenure as NBC West Coast president in 1999, he has-with the notable exception of his return to the helm of “MNF’s” 2000 season-increasingly focused on his teaching and lecturing and mentoring at Pepperdine University and on the study and execution of art.

“All my life I would do 25 to 30 things at the same time. Now if I’m doing two or three things, I go into overload,” said Mr. Ohlmeyer, who told The Insider: “It’s fascinating to watch the business and not have a dog in the fight. I had a dog in the fight for 35 years.”

He has accepted a handful of commissions but has “never really tried to sell” his paintings, which number nearly 100 and cannot be accommodated in his storage-challenged home in Malibu, Calif., where he spends four or five hours a day in his studio. (“Sometimes I’ve got CNN or a news channel on. Sometimes I’ve got `Access Hollywood’ on.”) He’s gotten “less shy” about showing pieces he likes to folks.

The Insider doesn’t know diddly about art, but after studying Mr. Ohlmeyer’s catalog she knows she likes the pieces in which Mr. Ohlmeyer works with blues and greens and yellows. And she likes the sense that even the most peaceful and expansive of his pieces feel as intense as the bustling pieces, which The Insider would describe as Pollock-esque-then hunker down and wait for corrections to pour in.

“Zuma,” the big blue work on the catalog cover, will not make the trip to the gallery. It’s hanging over the Ohlmeyers’ fireplace at the direction of his wife, Linda, and because, said Mr. Ohlmeyer, “That’s kind of one of my favorites now.”


Regis Philbin’s new album, “When You’re Smiling,” debuted last week at No. 54 on Billboard’s Hot 200 chart thanks to first-week sales of 20,500. “It’s a whole new ballgame for me. I’m so used to overnight ratings, it’s hard to get used to a weekly scan. Yeah, everybody’s very happy with our opening week because it was a short week. It was like 51/2 days,” Mr. Philbin said during a call from his car after leaving a cross-demo appearance on MTV’s “Total Request Live” to plug his second album in 36 years.

“I was kind of scared, because I feel like our audience isn’t those kids, but they sure treated me nicely,” the eternally hip Mr. Philbin said after having been shown much love from placard-waving women on the sidewalk at MTV’s corner of Times Square and from the much younger crowd in the studio.

It was certainly a warmer experience than he’d had earlier that morning, when The Insider heard Don Imus pan the album before interviewing Mr. Philbin on “Imus in the Morning.”

“It was the biggest thing that’s ever happened to Times Square,” joked Mr. Philbin.


N.S. Bienstock’s Richard Leibner and his agent-wife, Carole Cooper, last weekend went back to the University of Rochester, where he received The Meliora Citation for Career Achievement, his alma mater’s most prestigious alumni honor for professional achievement. Mr. Leibner, whose powerful agency’s stable of clients includes Dan Rather, also was to speak about what he sees as key turning points in the evolution of television news. But The Insider looks forward to hearing what questions the audience asked.

Receiving The Meliora puts Mr. Leibner in company with previous honorees John Levey, VP of casting at Warner Bros. Television; Cathy Minehan, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston; Susan Hockfield, who is about to become president of MIT; and Michael Kanfer, who won an Oscar for visual effects in “Titanic.”