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.
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.
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 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.