Posts Tagged ‘Multichannel News’

Van Totaled, Chatting Up ‘Jerseylicious’ Tracy DiMarco, Robert Lee Morris Meet-And-Greet, Back At The Spotted Donkey, Max Gone, Fall In Sheboygan: The Second Anniversary Of Our Layoff

January 27, 2011

Recently we’ve had dealings with some of the folk we knew when we covered the cable TV industry — before we were laid off exactly two years ago today.

We have to chuckle to ourselves when they say, “Oh, Linda Moss. Where have you been?”

We want to answer back, in our best Jersey accent, “Yo, where have you been?”

This summer our lovely BFF Ann McGettigan (left) and The Homeshoppingista visited QVC and rubbed shoulders with famed jewelry designer Robert Lee Morris (did we run this photo large enough?)

Here’s where we’ve been since Jan. 26, 2009:

• Writing 850 blogs for this site, The Homeshoppingista, which some say has become a must-read for the home shopping industry — and sometimes a thorn in the side of QVC, HSN and ShopNBC.

• Writing about New Jersey-related TV programming, such as “Jerseylicious,” and cable-vs.-programmers spats in the Garden State for NewJerseyNewsroom.com.

The Homeshoppingista interviewing Tracy DiMarco of Jerseylicious

• Writing about health care and telecommunications for a fantastic website on public policy, NJSpotlight.com, run by two of our former colleagues at The Herald-News, Lee Keough and Tom Johnson.

• Writing blogs on dementia for a website.

• Writing and breaking stories for TVNewsCheck.com, which is run by a great newspaperman and gent, Harry Jessell.

• Writing market profiles for Harry’s NetNewsCheck.com, which is run by my former colleague Eric Smith, another smart and talented – and blessedly un-anal — editor.

• Crafting blogs for nearly a dozen websites, with most of those pertaining to traumatic brain injury, for a chap, Gordon Johnson, we went to Medill (as in J-school) with. But he was smart, he became a lawyer. “American Idol” candidate Chris Medina got across the heartbreak of TBI lasr night when he told the story of his now-wheelchair bound fiancee.

• Doing a bit of volunteer work for the corporate public relations department of the Saint Barnabas Health Care System, New Jersey’s largest hospital chain, as well as its affiliate, Clara Maass Medical Center.

• Going on dates, with more men in the past two years than we had in the prior 10, when we were working 10 to 12 hours a day, and some weekends and vacations.

• Learning how to use a Mac.

• Traveling to Chicago for a TBI conference for lawyers.

• Going to Wisconsin to see a brain injury survivor, Lethan Candlish, perform a remarkable one-man show about his recovery. Lethan is a master storyteller.

TBI storyteller Lethan Candlish

We must say, it’s a breath of fresh air to in many cases be interviewing and writing for people who don’t have a clue who John Malone or Brian Roberts is. Malone, oh non-cable people, is head of Liberty Media, which owns QVC.

You see, the cable TV industry is a close-knit cabal. That has its pluses and negatives. Some cable folk – and we adore many of them — only see the world through the prism of that industry, as if nothing exists outside it. Maybe it’s just natural for people in an industry to have such tunnel vision.

A year ago we blogged about the first anniversary of our layoff today. The past year has had a lot of ups and downs, personally.

Pet lovers will get this, but it was traumatic when our parents had to put down their dog of more than a dozen years, the min pin Max. Our father many a time threatened to kill that mutt, when he would jump on the table and run off with food, etc. But we were all in the vet’s office, and all cried, when Max was put to sleep.

Our nephew Evan (who told us to buckle up), our dad and niece Sydney at the Tropicana in Atlantic City, seven months before our Columbus Day accident

Just weeks later our dad tried to cheer everyone up by taking us to Atlantic City for Columbus Day weekend. On the way back on the Garden State Parkway my sister’s van – with my parents, sister, brother-in-law, niece, nephew and us in it – was T-boned by a car that came out of nowhere and flew across several lanes of traffic to crash into us.

We can still remember the shock when we were hit, and had no idea what was happening.

Luckily, we all had our seatbelts on (after our 6-year-old nephew Evan had reminded us to buckle up). But the other car hit the side of the van right next to our dad. The jaws of life got him out, but he fractured several vertebrae. He was in and out of the hospital so many times than we lost count, for both his back and his rotator cuff. He was taken by ambulance to the ER many times.

It truly is a miracle that we weren’t killed. Unfortunately our dad was hurt, but no one else was.

At Thanksgiving dinner, our dad always would say grace. This year, he said something like, “Thank you, oh Lord, for our health. Sort of.”

And we all laughed. Our father is nothing if not honest.

But there was plenty of good during the past year. After more than two years away from our beloved Arizona, we finally returned in December, with a guy. Thanks BJ!

It’s much better watching the sunset in Cave Creek, sucking down a prickly pear margarita at the Spotted Donkey Cantina, when you are sharing it with someone. We also enjoyed huckleberry margaritas, and the famous “Big Ass Burger,” at the Roaring Fork.

Watching the sunset from the patio of the Spotted Donkey Cantina, while sipping a prickly pear margarita, is glorious

We and our bud Ann McGettigan got to meet famed jewelry designer Robert Lee Morris when we visited QVC this summer.

And we’ve enjoyed the writing we’ve done during the past year, as we’ve become mini-experts on topics such as TBI, concussions, Obama’s health reform, Alzheimer’s, heparin, malpractice, nursing and plane crashes.

Our clips are now links to dozens of stories that we’ve written since being shoved out the door at Multichannel News. And there is a light at the end of the tunnel for us. More on that later.

And we still have this quote from Louis L’Amour on our bulletin board: “There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. Yet that will be the beginning.”

You were right, Louie.

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Actress Fran Drescher, Part Of The HSN Family, Launches Her ‘Tawk’ Show Friday

November 26, 2010

Actress Fran Drescher is not only a skincare vendor on HSN, she is now the host of her own daytime program, “The Fran Drescher Tawk Show.”

The show debuts tomorrow, Friday, in a test run on six Fox-owned TV stations, including WNYW in New York City at noon. The other stations are KTTV in Los Angeles, WTXF in Philadelphia, KMSP in Minneapolis, KSAZ in Phoenix and WORL in Orlando, Fla.

Drescher is a cancer survivor and a rape survivor. To top it off, her ex-husband came out of the closet and said he was gay after they divorced. This star of the back-in-the-day hit “The Nanny” is resilient, to say the least. She started doing a natural skincare line, FranBrand, for HSN earlier this year.

So how did Drescher land her talk show gig?

According to JustJared.com, Drescher appeared on “The Wendy Williams Show” and then got a call from its producers, Debmar-Mercury.

“When I was on your show, the people that make your show asked me if I wanted to do my [own] show,” Drescher told Williams, who resides in our town of Montclair, N.J. “We’ve been talking ever since. It’s gonna premiere Nov. 26 right after Thanksgiving.”

BTW, Drescher is referring to TV syndicator Debmar-Mercury, which produces Williams’ show and is now producing “The Tawk” Show,” along with the Fox Stations. And in that HSN “Six Degrees of Separation” thing, Debmar-Mercury is owned by the studio Lionsgate, which is headed by Jon Feltheimer, who is married to HSN “Hot in Hollywood” vendor Laurie Feltheimer.

Kirstie Alley is one of Drescher's first guests

Drescher’s debut show will be “A Post-Thanksgiving Weight Loss Discussion,” with zaftig actress Kirstie Alley “tawking diet and organic food.” Mmmmmmm, we don’t know if Alley is the right person to talk about diets.

The rest of the episode will include healthy cooking with Chef LaLa and Dr. Ian Smith offering weight loss advice. He will put two members of “The Tawk Show” staff on a healthy eating plan.

Here is what WNYW’s website says about Drescher’s show: “Drescher’s new ‘tawk’ show will give viewers a look at the former star of ‘The Nanny’ in a new light. From celebrity headliners to political heavyweights, Drescher is ready to chat it up with the best of them beginning Nov. 26.”

Chef LaLa is also on the guest roster

In October the trade rag B&C wrote about the show, which will have a three-week trial period.

“I’m thrilled to be able to bring The Fran Drescher Tawk Show to daytime TV, which fits me hand in glove,” said Drescher in a statement, according to B&C. “It will cover all of my passions, everything from pedicures to politics. America will have a chance to see the real Fran Drescher, beyond ‘The Nanny.’ I’m the girl next door, a self-made woman who has been to hell and back a few times.”

No kidding, girlfriend.

The name of Drescher’s show, which pokes fun at her pronounced New Yawk accent, reminds us of our days at Multichannel News. Our tech writer based in Denver, a beautiful and razor-sharp blonde named Leslie Ellis, would delight in making fun of our accent when we saw her at trade shows.

Leslie, that sly puss, got a kick out of mimicking our pronunciation of “tawk.” It made us quite self-conscious. What a silly goose we were. We should have been celebrating our manner of speaking, just as Drescher is.

The Homeshoppingista Crows About Beating ‘The Bible Of the Cable Industry,’ Her Ex-Employer, And That Other Home Shopping Blog

May 20, 2010

Mother, mother pin a rose on me. That’s what our childhood friend Diane’s mother would say if any of us kids bragged. Well, we’re bragging.

We beat our old employer, the guys that laid us off a year ago, and we beat the other home shopping blog with our blog Wednesday about NBC selling its stake in ShopNBC and the home shopping channel planning to get a new name and rebrand. We took the time to listen to ShopNBC’s first-quarter earnings, while others who claim to cover cable and home shopping, namely Multichannel News and Home Shopping Queen, apparently failed to bother to do.

We had an hour before we put on our makeup, fixed our hair and finished packing Wednesday before our cab picked us up. We were on are way to LaGuardia and Chicago.

But we still took the time to hear the call and frantically write the story, because it’s a pretty big one for the home shopping industry.

Multichannel News, the bible of the cable industry and our home for 16 years, thought the story was pretty big, too. They gave it pretty big play on their website about 24 hours after we wrote it.

Better late than never, guys. No credit to The Homeshoppingista, of course.

Home Shopping Queen wrote it up, we’re pretty sure after us, but she buried the freaking lead when she did. That’s what writers do when they get beat on a big story — they pretend it was not really so big.

But then, Home Shopping Queen says, “I don’t enjoy muddling through dense text filled with financial numbers.”

Well, The Homeshoppingista sure does. That’s where the best stories are. That’s where the real scoop and real news is. But then, our background is journalism.

We also gave our story to our friend Harry Jessell, who published it on TVNewscheck, with competes with B&C magazine, the sister pub to Multichannel News. How sweet it is.

We had to celebrate this little victory, so much so that we are writing this in the lobby of the Hotel Allegro in Chicago, paying $5.95 every 15 minutes on here. But we couldn’t wait until we got back to Jersey late Friday to write this.

At 8 p.m., we’ll be heading out to a fancy restaurant for dinner with our crew here. And we’ll be drinking a Bombay Sapphire martini, with olives, the celebrate Wednesday’s events.

There is a God.

Our next celebration will be when certain people get shit-canned from Multi, like we were. When that happens, we plan to walk to our favorite local watering hole, buy the bar drinks, and get “half a bag on,” as our dad would put it. Karma, we know you will kick in eventually.

Former ShopNBC CEO Rene Aiu Scores $1.5 Settlement Of Breach-Of-Contract Suit Against The Network, Parent ValueVision

December 8, 2009

Former ShopNBC CEO Rene Aiu Has Reason To Be Smiling

We spent seven years covering courts in Jersey, and we just love writing about lawsuits. We’re getting our chance to do that today, because former ShopNBC president and CEO Rene Aiu has settled her litigation against the home shopping network for a tidy $1.5 million. Sweet.

ShopNBC’s parent company, ValueVision Media, filed a 10-Q with the Securities and Exchange Commission Monday disclosing the Dec. 1 settlement of the breach-of-contract lawsuit that Aiu filed back in Nov. 21 last year. ShopNBC will record a charge of $1,505,000 in the third quarter to pay the settlement.

According to the filing, Aiu will get gross cash payments of $875,000 for severance-pay claims; $250,000 relating to the sale of her residence; and $360,000 in attorneys’ fees. That adds up to $1,485,00 to us, not $1,505,000, but we can’t explain the small discrepancy. Maybe we did the math wrong.

Whatever. It looks like Aiu, who was hired by ShopNBC March 3, 2008, made out quite nicely. She was a veteran of HSN and something called Jupiter Shop Channel Japan when she came to ShopNBC, assigned to try to turnaround the troubled channel. That March and April, she recruited three other senior executives to create her management team. Cost for those four execs in fiscal 2008: $1.1 million.

But ShopNBC didn’t give Aiu much time to do her thing. Six months after she was hired, on Aug. 22, ShopNBC management “terminated” her and the other three new company officials. The board named chairman John Buck CEO, and hired QVC veteran Keith Stewart as president and chief operating officer.

ShopNBC CEO Keith Stewart

We were working at Multichannel News and covered ShopNBC’s second-quarter conference call in August 2008, when investors ripped Buck a new one (we couldn’t write that at Multi) for firing Aiu so quickly, without giving her a chance to do her thing. In all our years of reporting, we have never heard a more hostile and bitter conference call between investors and a company.

About four months later, Aiu sued ValueVision, i.e. ShopNBC. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Aiu alleged in the suit that Buck had given the OK to her turnaround plan, and to her hiring the three new execs. But Aiu charged that Buck was not a very happy camper when she suggested that compensation to ShopNBC officers and its directors be cut, “as a a sign of solidarity with long-suffering shareholders,” according to the Star Tribune.

The paper also reported that Aiu claimed that she and her new team learned that ShopNBC’s business among its best repeat customers had been eroding for years, and that the board was unaware of this looming problem.

The lawsuit alleged that when Aiu presented her findings and suggestions to Buck, her told her to can the new management team. A couple of days later, Aiu and the three senior execs she brought in were “terminated,” as they tend to say in lawsuits.

The Star Tribune said that Aiu’s suit alleged that Buck intimidated employees who disagreed with His Highness. The litigation also alleged that Buck hit vendors up for discounts.

In a nutshell, Aiu charged that she was shitcanned without good cause and that she was — how shall we say it — stiffed out of $2.1 million in severance pay, the Star Tribune reported.

Stewart was promoted to the CEO position on Jan. 27 — the day after Multichannel News pinkslipped us — and Buck went back to his old sole title of chairman.

Stewart brought in a group of fellowQVC alum, and they are actually doing a great job of mounting a turnaround at ShopNBC. The network is not out of the woods by a long shot, but Stewart has managed to diminish the flow of red ink from a river to a trickle.

We Take Third Shot At Finding Out If Plastic Surgeon Dr. Robert Rey Will Keep HSN Gig, While Also Selling Product On ShopNBC

October 28, 2009

Call us crazy, but we’re taking a third shot to try to find out if Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Dr. Robert Rey will continue to appear on HSN now that he’s got a gig at rival ShopNBC.

Rey, star of E! Entertainment Television’s “Dr. 90210,” has been selling Shapewear, fancy undies and bras, on HSN for some time. But last weekend he went on  ShopNBC selling a skincare line, Sensual Solutions.

We don’t offhand recall a time when a vendor was selling goods on two home shopping networks at the same time. We want to know if Rey’s tenure with HSN is over.  

So far, we have sent three e-mails to HSN corporate, which states it will only take questions  from “a media professional with a specific request.” No response yet. Maybe HSN doesn’t think The Homeshoppingista is a media professional.

Not for nothing, and not to toot our own horn, but we will when we must. We went to one of the best J-schools in the country, Medill.  We helped launch Crain’s New York Business. We won one of the most prestigious awards for business journalism, the Gerald Loeb Award, for a story on the impact of AIDS on the fashion industry.

We covered the cable industry for 16 years at Multichannel News, writing stories about the business and programming such as HBO’s “The Sopranos.”

And we are still reporting on the cable business, the multi-billion dollar home shopping segment, with this blog. QVC and ShopNBC are totally owned or partially owned by two key media giants, John Malone’s Liberty Media and NBC.

In between job hunting, we are also writing for the growing Web site NewJerseyNewsroom.com, with a recent profile on Jersey’s Kurt Sutter, creator of the FX hit “Sons of Anarchy.”

We believe this all qualifies us as a media professional. 

We have e-mailed Rey twice, no response. But then we learned today that he has a PR firm that handles the media, and we shot an e-mail to them. Maybe they will answer our question. 

And we even e-mailed ShopNBC this morning, asking them if they know if Rey will remain on HSN.

Once again, we’ll let you know what we hear.