Monday, November 10, 2008

New Book about Ted Turner Just Published

During my career as a television programmer, I did time with Ted Turner, actually about twelve terrific years. I remember him walking the halls of the building, interested in everything that was happening. I could tell that he loved television, and that passion was what I admired so much about him. I fondly recall several meetings in his office at CNN Center with him...well, maybe not that fondly, as there was a time when a few of us wanted to expand TNT's mandate beyond just movies (this was before TCM, which would become the classic movie channel to beat) and add series, which I was advocating most vociferously.

Ted wasn't having any of it at that point. As we left his office, he said to me, and I quote, "When you have a network with your name on it, you can program it the way you want." So true! And of course later we were finally able to expand into series, that tactic continued by the current admin who naturally thinks they invented series on TNT. So much for short memories and huge egos! Plenty of those in television, that's for sure!

But so now there's this new book Call Me Ted, co-written by one of the most terrific Turner execs I ever worked with, Bill Burke. We worked together at Turner Classic Movies, and he was one of the funniest, most accessible, naturally bright, and self-confident but ego-less people I have ever known. (The other one just like him was Greg Nathanson from my days at KTLA -- both men coincidentally from media families, which must somehow instill knowledge and kindness that eludes so many from the outside who have strived desperately to work in television, and subsequently turned into bastards).

Today's New York Times has a nice profile on Bill, and The Flaming Nose wishes him and Mr. Turner the best of luck with this new book. Both Ted Turner and I left the company at about the same time, under different circumstances of course but both rather abruptly handed our hats, as it were. I only hope that those currently at the Turner Networks remember, every day, the man whose name graces their company and without whose passion and foresight they'd be far less smug today. Ted Turner invented this stuff -- they're only living off it.

Check out Call Me Ted for the life of the broadcasting rebel that we all admire. I know I do.

And congratulations to Bill Burke for his contribution; Ted was lucky to have you in it with him.

1 comment:

Jane said...

What a great post, Lisa! I saw a blurb on the new Ted book in Entertainment Weekly and thought of you. Ted is a force to be admired, if only for CNN (which I so highly regarded I gave my cat the same name) and TCM (which comforted my Dad with classic movies in his final days). Ted's not such a bad guy when he remembers to take his medication. I remember being at a cable TV conference a few years back where he was on a panel with MY current big boss (Newscorp owner Rupert Murdoch). Newscorp was launching the new Fox News Channel and Ted was not a happy camper about that. Right there on the stage he told Mr. M. he planned to "Squash him like a bug". Well clearly, that never happened. But it did provide one of the most colorful moments I can recall at a business convention. Can't wait to read the book!