Archive for the ‘Lifetime Television’ Category

The Homeshoppingista Gets A Peek At HSN’s New Manhattan Penthouse Offices, And We Meet Mindy

June 17, 2010

Artist Michael Vollbracht, who created a clothing line for HSN, did four paintings for its New York offices that feature a flower motif from one of his scarves for the home shopping network

We got to visit HSN’s spanking new offices in Manhattan, and they are some pretty stylish, should we say swank, digs.

HSN had off-the-record meetings with the press Thursday, us included. HSN EVP of programming, marketing and business development Bill Brand invited us in.

Brand is a broadcast/cable veteran who got his programming chops at local TV stations, as well as both VH1 — working for Jeff Gaspin, who is now chairman of NBC Universal Television Entertainment — and at Lifetime Television.

Brand was hired by HSN CEO Mindy Grossman shortly after she arrived at the home shopping channel to shake it up.

We can’t tell you the content of what Brand told us about HSN’s plans (as we said, it was off the record, and if anyone else writes it, we’re coming after Bill). We’d love to relate what Brand had to say about the second network that HSN is launching, the just-announced HSN2. But we can’t. But Brand said we could blog about the new offices.

Bill Brand

Just a few weeks ago the No. 2 home shopping network moved its Big Apple staff from the quarters of the channel’s former owner, Barry Diller’s IAC, to a building on 55th Street, right off Madison Avenue. The building, across the street from the legendary Friar’s Club, is being renovated. The construction permits were in the lobby window.

Brand got programming experience under now-NBC honcho Jeff Gaspin

HSN’s corporate headquarters and TV studios remain in steamy St. Petersburg, Fla., land of the large flying water bugs and hair-frizzing humidity. That’s why we no likey Florida.

But HSN has always had some staff in New York City, and the airy new space with the Madison Avenue address (even though the entrance is on 55th) will serve as a fine venue for the network to host product previews for the press and to meet with its growing list of Manhattan designers and vendors, people like the red-carpet Badgley Mischka team and Iman.

HSN’s got the building’s penthouse duplex, with a great view of the city and a huge terrace.

The space is wide open, and everything is white. There is some artwork on the walls. Four paintings by artist Michael Vollbacht, who has done a clothing collection for HSN, hang near the entrance of the penthouse. But furniture and other decorations are still being brought in.

As we chatted with Brand, HSN CEO Mindy Grossman stopped by. It’s the first time we met her, and she was very gracious, not mentioning the times we’ve poked fun at her (describing her as “cleavage-baring” and all that) in this blog. She’s obviously a pro who knows how the game is played. Any press is good press.

We finally met HSN CEO Mindy Grossman

We know we shouldn’t comment on an executive’s appearance (it’s sexist, some would say) but Grossman is striking looking. She has great style and was dressed all in black, the Manhattan uniform. She was wearing great jewelry, including two huge cuffs from Iman’s Global Chic HSN line.

Brand also introduced us to HSN chief financial officer Judy Schmeling, who is always on the network’s earnings calls. Most of the top executives at HSN are women, not middle-aged white men, as is typical in most of corporate America.

After a lot of chatter and a very quick, but delicious lunch, we were ushered out as the next group of reporters was coming in for their HSN meet-and-greet.

Our only regret is that we didn’t grab a few blondies to eat on the DeCamp bus back to Montclair.

HSN Vendor Iman To Join QVC’s Isaac Mizrahi As Co-Host Of ‘The Fashion Show’

May 13, 2010

We hope they don’t share secrets of each other’s home shopping channels, but HSN fashion vendor Iman is going to be a co-host and judge along with QVC’s Isaac Mizrahi on “The Fashion Show,” which airs on Bravo.

Iman, the supermodel/entrepreneur who is married to space oddity David Bowie, is replacing former Destiny’s Child member Kelly Rowland on the reality show.

“We are happy to welcome Iman to the Bravo family,” Frances Berwick, Bravo’s general manager and executive vice president, said in a statement. “Breaking barriers in the fashion industry, Iman is a true pioneer and her unparalleled credibility will inspire the contestants and be a perfect match to the always exciting, Isaac Mizrahi.”

Iman does the Iman Global Chic line for HSN, and also serves as host of “Project Runway Canada.”

“The Fashion Show” became Bravo’s fashion competition show last year when “Project Runway” moved to Lifeteime Television.

Mizrahi, in turn, is doing a broad line of merchandise for QVC ranging from clothing to handbags to housewares.

Former Lifetime Network CEO Andrea Wong Joins Board Of QVC’s Parent, Liberty Media

April 29, 2010

The cable industry is a small, tight-knit world, and you never know who is going to end up where. But we learned Thursday that Andrea Wong, former president and CEO of Lifetime Entertainment Services, was named to Liberty Media’s board.

Liberty is QVC’s parent company.

“Andrea’s extensive experience in media and expertise in programming will be valuable in helping guide Liberty,” Liberty CEO Greg Maffei said in a canned statement. “We look forward to her contributions as our newest board member.”

Wong had joined Lifetime from The Walt Disney Co.’s ABC, where during her 14-year tenure she served in a variety of roles, most notably as an executive vice president where her responsibilities included reality programming.

We interviewed Wong several times when she was at Lifetime, and she had a bumpy tenure at the women’s channel. She brought over Bravo’s hit “Project Runway,” but only after a prolonged legal battle. The ratings for the network were good.

Then last year Lifetime’s joint ownership, Disney and A&E Networks, was unraveled. Wong left this week, and her vacancy was filled Tuesday with an A&E Nets veteran, History Channel’s GM Nancy Dubuc.

Dubuc is a talented, ambitious executive that we once profiled.

We wonder how active a voice Wong will have regarding QVC.

Before Lifetime, Wong worked in the areas of corporate planning and high-yield finance. Wong obtained her bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an M.B.A. from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business.

QVC, HSN and ShopNBC Should Give Thanks For Home Shopping’s Sea Change: They’ve Attracted Luxury Brands Like Gucci, Badgley Mischka And Stephen Dweck

November 26, 2009

QVC CEO Mike George

We thought we were seeing things a few days ago when we checked ShopNBC’s Web site and saw that it was selling dozens of Gucci watches. What happened, did they fall off a truck? Why was Gucci, a premier luxury brand, being sold on a home shopping network?

Then back in October, we couldn’t believe it when a sharp-eyed poster on QVC’s jewelry forum said that upscale jewelry designer Stephen Dweck, whose chunky gemstone masterpieces are featured in Neiman Marcus, was on the No. 1 home shopping network’s schedule. THE Stephen Dweck?

We checked QVC’s program guide ourselves, and there it was: Dweck was doing a lower-priced jewelry line for QVC called Dweck’s Diamonds. His Neiman Marcus pieces didn’t even have diamonds. The high-end stuff is made with semi-precious stones.

Also in October, we were checking the press releases on HSN’s Web site when we saw the network had struck a deal with one of the most famous and elite fashion houses: Badgley Mischka, designers of bejeweled gowns for the red carpet and celebrities.

We’ve written bits and pieces of this during the past two months, but we thought we’d tie it all up in a tidy package for Thanksgiving: There has been a sea change in the home shopping world, prompted by the disastrous economy and the crash of the luxury market.

Yes, home shopping networks have seen their sales hurt by the economy, like everyone else. But they claim they are still managing to steal market share from brick-and-mortar retailers. In fact, QVC is making a full-frontal assault on them this Black Friday, with 28 hours of special products and programming stunts starting Thanksgiving night.

The consumer press will continue to mention “cubic zirconia” in every story it writes about QVC or HSN, oblivious to the fact that some of the most esteemed names in fashion, jewelry and cosmetics — brands you find in Saks, Bloomingdale’s and Neiman Marcus — are plying their wares on the aforementioned home shopping channels.

ShopNBC CEO Keith Stewart

Male journalists are blind to this. You still have the nerds at Gawker, a snide Web Site for the navel-gazing media, chiding HSN for selling “useless crap.”

If you have ever seen how male journalists dress or their fashion and style sensibilities, you will realize that you can’t expect them to know names like Badgley Mischka, Judith Ripka, Robert Lee Morris, our fellow Montclair, N.J., resident Bobbi Brown, Yves Saint Laurent, Smashbox, Lancome and Dweck. And these brands and artists don’t represent “useless crap.”

Luxury-good makers are hurting, and they need to make up their loss in sales. So they are turning to outlets like QVC, as CEO Mike George explained at a recent Liberty Media conference, as outlets to distribute new lower-priced lines to the masses. George cited fashion designer Vivienne Tam’s QVC alliance at the meeting held in Manhattan by his parent company, Liberty.

“This complete implosion of luxury retailing in America has caused all these folks to rethink their business model,” George said.

And that means partnering with QVC, HSN or ShopNBC.

As we said, it will take the consumer press years to figure out that home shopping channels are distribution powerhouses that have undergone a transformation, in part because of the infllux of talent like a Morris, who does couture jewelry for designers like Donna Karan and RLM Studio sterling silver jewelry for QVC.

The Big Three — QVC, HSN and ShopNBC — are aggressively trying to broaden their audience and potential customer base, those who don’t normally watch any of these three networks. That means the three are actually “programming” the channels, doing “shows” that have entertainment value, not just product shilling, so they will attract non-QVC or non-HSN watchers.

We remember once interviewing a QVC exec years ago and asking what the network’s ratings were. He said ratings were irrelevant: QVC was only concerned about how many products were sold in an hour.

HSN CEO Mindy Grossman

That’s a totally different tune from what we heard recently from QVC’s George, and from the strategies that HSN CEO Mindy Grossman and ShopNBC CEO Keith Stewart have initiated.

Like traditional TV networks, the home shopping players want viewers to “sample” a QVC or an HSN. These new audience members, hopefully, will then see products that they want to buy.

For example, singer Natalie Cole recently did a live concert on HSN to promote a new Holiday CD set she is selling on the channel. If you’re a fan, you might tune in to HSN to see her, and then actually decide to purchase her CD. Artists such
as Jose Feliciano have also performed live on QVC.

QVC alum Stewart on a recent third-quarter conference call pointed out that actress-entrepreneur Suzanne Somers, who came to ShopNBC from HSN, had succeeded in attracting new viewers to Minneapolis-based ShopNBC because she was “entertaining.” And these networks want new eyeballs.

And home shopping networks’ capacity to reach millions of consumers and do fulfillment of orders has not been lost on magazine publishers, celebrities or cable’s reality TV stars. With circulation falling, women’s magazines such as Lucky, Allure, Glamour and Self are partnering with HSN to sell subscriptions.

And stars have seen the light. In a recent interview in Oprah Winfey’s O magazine, Joan Rivers, who’s had a jewelry line on QVC for almost 20 years, told O she was on home shopping when “nobody except dead celebrities was doing merchandise on TV.”

Nowadays, it’s hard to find a celebrity or TV star who doesn’t have a home shopping line. Even Madonna was interviewed on HSN when she was selling her children’s book.

Here’s a partial list:

Paula Abdul, HSN, formerly “American Idol,” Fox

Rachel Zoe, QVC, “The Rachel Zoe Project,” Bravo

Isaac Mizrahi, QVC, “The Fashion Show,” Bravo

Padma Lakshmi, HSN, “Top Chef,” Bravo

Ramona Singer, HSN, “The Real Housewives of New York City,” Bravo

Susan Lucci, HSN, “All My Children,” ABC

Carson Kressley, QVC, “How to Look Good Naked,” Lifetime Television

Dr. Robert Rey, ShopNBC, “Dr. 90210,” E! Entertainment Television

Tori Spelling, HSN, “Tori & Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood,” Oxygen

Paula Deen, QVC, Food Network

Rachael Ray, QVC, “The Rachael Ray Show,” syndication

Ingrid Hoffmann, HSN, Food Network and Univision

Home shopping is a big business. ShopNBC is the also-ran in the group, but in the third quarter Stewart made some nice progress cutting its losses. Sales for the Big Three were all down, but down less than previous quarters.

And we are not talking chump change for these networks. The three home shopping channels generated $8.3 billion in net revenue in 2008. QVC domestic posted $4.9 billion, HSN netted $2.8 billion and ShopNBC had $568 million.

Even with revenue still slipping this year, for the first nine months QVC had revenue of $3.308 billion; HSN had net sales of $1.4 billion; and ShopNBC had $372.6 million in net sales.

Happy Thanksgiving!

ShopNBC May Partner With Bravo, Whose Reality TV Stars Like Rachel Zoe And Isaac Mizrahi Already Have Deals With QVC And HSN

November 18, 2009

ShopNBC apparently has something cooking with the cable network Bravo, but we couldn’t find out many details Wednesday.

During a third-quarter conference call ShopNBC CEO Keith Stewart said that the network is looking to partner with Bravo to sell some of Bravo’s “content” also have a presence on the channel.

“I can’t speak for NBC, but I do talk to them quite frequently, and we are in active conversations to work with some of their properties, like Bravo,” Stewart said. “To the extent that we can sell some of the Bravo content and also be on some of their channels, that will be a cost-effective way to do it.”

Bravo is a unit of NBC Universal, which is expected to be purchased by cable giant Comcast. NBC has a minority stake in ShopNBC.

A raft of the stars of Bravo’s many reality TV stars have lines on home shopping networks. Celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe of “The Rachel Zoe Project” sells clothes and accessories on QVC, and Heidi Klum of Bravo’s former hit, now Lifetime’s “Project Runway,” had a jewelry line on QVC until a suit agains her by Van Cleef & Arpel put the kibosh on that.

Fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi, of Bravo’s “The Fashion Show,” is doing a line of apparel, accessories and home goods that will debut next month on QVC.

On HSN, Ramona Singer of Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of New York City” has a fine jewelry line, while Padman Lakshmi of Bravo’s “Top Chef” is hawking teas and herbs.

On the conference call, Stewart only made one more comment about the potential Bravo arrangement, and ShopNBC wasn’t “adding any color,” as Wall Street analysts say, after the call.

“Now all that said, NBC is a stand-alone unit and they need to make money,” Stewart said. “And we unquestionably need to make money. So to the extent it compromises our margins to you, it would not be a good business decision. But to the extent it does work for both of us, we’ll launch some of the content that NBC will offer.”

General Electric and NBC currently own about 32.5 percent of ShopNBC on a fully diluted basis of 37.6 million shares. NBC’s 6.4 million shares represent 16.8 percent ownership and GE’s 6 million common stock purchase warrants represent 15.7 percent.

Steamy ‘Top Chef’ Host Padma Lakshmi Premieres On HSN, The Latest Bravo TV Star To Do the Home Shopping Thang

November 6, 2009

Another Bravo reality-show star has made the move to home shopping. Gorgeous Padma Lakshmi, a “Top Chef” host and cookbook author, premiered on HSN Friday.

She was selling several of her signed cookbooks, as well as exotic teas, spices and a cute clear teapot.

Ramona Singer, from Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of New York City,” has a jewelry line on HSN.

And model Heidi Klum, whose show “Project Runway” moved from Bravo to Lifetime Television this year, used to have a clover-motif jewelry line on QVC. But then Van Cleef & Arpel sued Klum over the design, and that was the end of the QVC line.