|Sunday, 19 May 2002, 4:32 pm
Back from St. Louis. What an amazing event.
TSS Executive Producer, Paul Block, and I flew in on American Airlines on Friday. (Patrick took a red-eye and met us on Saturday morning.) A very smooth flight, and I have to say I really appreciate the extra leg room in coach on AA – it’s much more comfortable, and the iBook doesn’t get squeezed when the guy in front puts his seat back. I have a ton of frequent flier miles on United, but I’m sticking with American from now on. (And I even said this before the events of our return flight. I’ll tell you about that in a minute.)
On the way Paul and I wrote a treatment for a new weekly show we’d like to do. It came out very well. Can’t tell you the details yet, but there’s some interest from on high.
Friday night we joined a dozen or so folks from the local cable company (Charter Communications) at Busch Stadium for a Cardinals-Reds game. It was delayed by rain, but the sky cleared and the game started at 8:10p. Unfortunately it was the coldest May 17th in St. Louis history ‘ it got down to 42 degrees. The ice cream and beer vendors were somewhat unpopular, but the hot chocolate guy was doing great business. I had packed for warmer weather, so I had to throw in the towel after just a couple of innings. Fortunately the hotel was right across the street so it was easy to go home and get to bed early.
I’m glad I did, because we had a record turnout on Saturday. We were scheduled to stay two hours, from 11a-1p, but so many people showed up that we stayed until 3:10p. We stayed so long that the tent rental people came and claimed the tent and ropes around us. We just moved the table into the parking lot and kept on signing. Fortunately the rain had stopped and it was a beautiful sunny day.
At most events we have to leave before we meet everyone, but this time Patrick and I met everyone who came. We went through over 750 pictures and I estimate that we signed around twice that number of autographs ‘ certainly the most ever. My hand is still aching.
I was very pleased to see that a lot of people had my book. We signed lots of computer hardware, too. But the weirdest thing we signed was a pair of breast implants brought by a plastic surgeon. I kid you not!
We stayed until we had to leave for the airport ‘ no time for Steak ‘n’ Shake, but a fan had brought us sliders from White Castle and we had a bag of SnS burgers in the car, so I didn’t go hungry.
At the airport an American Airlines customer service agent recognized us and bumped Patrick and me up to first class. First time that’s ever happened. I asked her to do the same for Paul, and she did. Woo hoo! What a great way to end an excellent event. Thank you, American!
I must say I relaxed and took full advantage of the first class amenities. It was too short a flight for a movie, but I watched ‘Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels’ on my iBook. Dynamite movie. Just as good as Guy Ritchie’s second film, ‘Snatch.’ Both are favorites among The Screen Savers, and now I know why.
Maybe I should have paid less attention to the movie and more to my seatmate, however. As we were getting off the plane he noticed my TechTV shirt. ‘You work at TechTV?’ he asked. ‘My brother is Greg Drebin.’ Doh! Just think of the inside stuff I could have learned.
Thanks to everyone who came out and said hi in St. Louis. We all had a great time, and Paul got much useful feedback. You’ll find some pictures on the message boards thanks to rtownsen and peterstork. I can’t wait to go back.
|Friday, 17 May 2002, 4:08 am
The car is coming for me at six tomorrow morning and it’s off to St. Louis. Paul Block, Screen Savers Executive Producer, and I are leaving Friday so we can schmooze with the cable execs at a Cardinals-Reds game at Busch Stadium Friday night. I’m so stoked to be able to add another ballpark to my collection. Patrick (who is not a baseball or schmooze fan) will stick around to do the show then fly out on a red-eye.
Just as long as he gets to Missouri in time to take me to the Steak ‘n’ Shake for breakfast.
Don’t tell Jennifer, but there’s been big flooding in the area all week. The Mississippi river crested yesterday at its highest point since 1927! The current weather report calls for sunny skies for our appearance at the Ballwin CompUSA Saturday. I am looking forward to seeing so many of you there.
We had around 800 people show up last time, so get there early. We’re leaving right at 1p to catch a flight back to the Bay Area and won’t have any time to meet stragglers. This is the first time Paul’s been to a Screen Savers appearance, and he’s anxious to talk with as many real viewers about the show as possible. Tell him what you like, and don’t like. It’s your best chance to influence the show.
See you in St. Louis!
|Saturday, 11 May 2002, 3:59 pm
TechTV’s Senior VP for Programming and Production, Greg Drebin, made a surprise appearance on the message boards late last night. He had some interesting things to say.
I guess I better watch my Ps and Qs around here!
|Friday, 10 May 2002, 3:48 pm
Although there won’t be much of a celebration on-air – I’m on vacation and The Screen Savers are taking a dark day today – Saturday, May 11, is the fourth anniversary of the launch of TechTV (and The Screen Savers and Call for Help).
In past years the company has thrown big parties to celebrate, but this year, in the aftermath of two big layoffs, we’re not doing much. Only half of the original staff members are still around. Many of the launch shows are gone. We’ve even lost some key markets in Las Vegas and New Jersey.
There are some things to celebrate, though. The total number of subscribers continues to grow. More than 30 million households get TechTV now, which makes us a viable cable network. And we did very well in the April ratings book:
SAN FRANCISCO, May 9, 2002 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — TechTV, the only 24-hour cable television network dedicated to showcasing the impact technology has on our everyday lives and the world at large, delivers cable’s highest concentration of Adults 18-49 and Men 25-54. Based on monthly data now available from Nielsen Media Research, TechTV ranked #1 for Men 25-54 and Adults 18-49 in VPVH (Viewer per 1000 Viewing Households) for the month of April. TechTV’s VPVH of 870 for Adults 18-49 and of 627 for Men 25-54 ranked it above all other cable networks in April.
It’s not the same as being #1 in the ratings, but it should help us win some advertising buys.
So happy birthday, TechTV. It’s been a long strange trip, with many twists. I feel a lot older than when I started (and I look it, too). But I still believe in our core mission: to empower people through technology. There’s a long way to go still on that front, and TechTV continues to lead the way.
|Thursday, 9 May 2002, 4:27 pm
Peter Pan opened last night and went very well. I’m always nervous watching productions of Peter Pan – so many things can go wrong.
Peter did get a little caught up in the rigging last night, and the rope yanked her off the bed once, and she almost hit the headboard another time, but it was otherwise blissfully uneventful.
There are two casts for this community theater production. Abby plays a Lost Boy in both and plays Jane (the grown Wendy Darling’s daughter for whom Peter comes in the last scene of the play) in Cast B. Cast B opens tonight! Abby has a sore throat so we kept her home from school today. I’m going to make her some chicken soup for lunch. I’m sure she’ll be ok by curtain time.
I brought my iBook to the theater last night and worked on the Almanac right up to show time. I’ll be working all day today. My schedule has settled into a nice rhythm. I work out in the morning, spend a little time in Leoville, then write til 11. Do an hour of weed whacking. (I bought a wicked little blade for the weed whacker that slices right through the suckers) then write for the rest of the afternoon. I could get used to this schedule!
Just to prove to the doubters that I actually am working I’ve been turning on the spycam and ibook cam in the afternoon. You can watch the sausage being made – and it ain’t pretty.
|Saturday, 4 May 2002, 11:10 pm
Happy Derby Day!
I realized that it’s been too long since I’ve posted here when my mom complained. OK, mom, and the rest of you, here’s what’s up with me.
Mostly I haven’t posted here because I’ve been working on the book. The first 25% was due on Wednesday and I’m far from done. We have a hard deadline of July 15 to get the book into stores in time
for the big back to school selling season.
Also I’m just plain lazy.
Lots of things have happened since my last entry. TechTV laid off another 50 people. We must be down to under 400 employees now. Still huge, but a lot smaller than our peak. Most of the layoffs were on the TechLive side, but The Screen Savers suffered, too. We lost Starr and Fatty Matty, our jibcam operator, a wonderful production assistant, Allison Pickard, and our director, Miriam. Layoffs suck. But I understand the need to save money in the aftermath of the tech crash. I know the people who lost their jobs will do just fine, but I’m going to miss them.
Fortunately, The Screen Savers is as successful as ever. We haven’t received the ratings from April, yet, but rumor has it they’re even stronger than we had hoped. We’re still looking at building a new set in the next few months – it’s about time – and Cat is moving to Call for Help, but otherwise the show won’t change much.
On the home front we’re planning a summer vacation in August in Wyoming’s Grand Tetons. I’m taking a week off now and two weeks in June, but it’s not really vacation. It’s for the book. That and Abby’s Peter Pan performance next week. I need to be around to chauffeur her to the long tech rehearsals between now and then.
I’ve had a good break from all the travelling I did late last year, but it’s about to pick up again. ABC has asked me to do monthly appearances on World News Now, their overnight newscast. I’ll probably go to New York City every other month and tape two at once. Since I can tape on Sunday night for a Monday AM airing, I won’t miss any Screen Savers episodes. I’ll try to squeeze in a Regis appearance while I’m out there, too. That should start in early June.
Patrick and I are going to St Louis in a couple of weeks, then we’re booked for Baltimore and Prince Georges sometime in September, and Lousiville and Birmingham in November. Dates and locations still to be determined.
Let’s see, what else. The goats and lambs are doing great, but they’re not eating the grass on the farm and it’s starting to look like a jungle here, so I’m going to have to break out the weed whacker, high weed mower, and other power tools to duel to the death with the tall green stuff. Abby says we should get a horse, because they eat great quantities of grass. I can’t say neigh, so we’ll probably get one sooner or later.
Well, enough procrastinating. Back to the book. Hope you’re satisfied mom… and everyone else. I’ll blog again soon. Promise.