Deadline

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Yes, That Byron Allen


Talk show host Byron Allen is making a play to buy Paxson Communication's PAX TV with an offer of $2.2 billion in cash. Cash? Yes, according to www.cynopsis.com cash. He wants to have an "African American-oriented network including some of the network's current family-focused programming."



Who's this guy?
You know the guy who interviews people at 3 AM? Amazing. Where did he get that kind of money? You know when you stumble home at 3 AM and turn on the TV and there's that guy again talking to a bored celebrity? That guy is buying a network. Ain't showbiz grand!


A short history of the black Barry Diller:
He's a comic that was a host on Real People back in the Go-Go 80's. Then he had a weekly syndicated talk show, "The Byron Allen Show." I'm guess somewhere between not being able to book guests and not wanting to pay for a studio audience or writers, they started do press junkets. Like you see on the evening news. Free sit-down interviews that are paid for by the movie studio so the local news or cable station or ET can show 2 minutes of their star answering the same question for the 1,000th time and trying to look like they remember the reporter from the last time they did one of these.

It's brilliant. For years he's been taking interviews and footage he got for free and stringing them into a show. No over head. It's like having a store and just selling promotional items...and charging.

Then a few years ago his catalogue of free interviews was "bought" by a company "Entertainment Studios (.com)." I use the literal air quotes because I've never heard of the company before and it seems to just have old interviews and sell the products people are hawking. Brilliant! if you are promoting a CD, why not sell it too?

I think he started the site. He also spun off his show that's usually burned off at the wee hours in the morning into three shows that stations have to buy in order to get some other show they want.

The show:
It can get painful. He gets the biggest names, But sometimes it feels more like he's taking them hostage than interviewing them.

Now he's looking to have his own TV network. It's going to be a shock when he realizes he needs to pay for content. He might have enough archives of his own show to fill a 24 hour network.

But it's ambitious. Starting an African American network. Not Cable channel, but a seventh network. Remember, PAX was started as a "family network" and it's folding. Theses two idea are based on what the owners want there to be on TV not what the public is demanding. No one was demanding a family network.

There are many choices for African American networks, BET, MBC (run by another black comic Robert Townsend) and there's one more...I can't remember...because I just can't! And the pay movie channel, Black Stars.

Then there's the matter of programing.
It's hard enough to get Black programing on TV. It's not like you're going to get a lot of old shows. Where are you going to find repeats? Of what?

MBC shows "Rock Live." That's nothing to build a network on. And Black Stars will show some popular black movies, independent black films, lesser know black film, unknown black films and finally films with possible one black guy in it.
BET with all it's money behind it, just started showing less videos and more shows.

Since it's going to be the Byron Allen Network, will it only air at 3 AM and plug movies?