It’s been nearly a year ago since I was laid off from Here TV. It’s true– about 4 months after I started this blog, I was told that I would have to be “let go.” At the time I was pretty devastated– it sucks pretty hard to be laid off in THIS economy! It turned out to be okay– I was able to find a job a little over 3 months later. It was STILL an incredibly disappointing moment, though. I had such plans and high-hopes for a decent future at Here TV. Unfortunately, that just wasn’t in the cards. And I wasn’t the only one.
Many people were laid off, not only from Here TV itself, but from the entire Here Media organization. And if people weren’t laid off, they quit. In DROVES. For me, this all started when the man that hired me at Here in the first place, the General Manager of the company, quit after my first 5 months there. After that, it was about every 2-3 weeks or so that someone else would quit. Then came the lay offs. It was a VERY strange time within that organization.
I was mostly disappointed because of the squandered potential of what is now the ONLY channel on television catering exclusively to gay-themed content. Ironically, that was there biggest problem: content. As in they had none. Well, they HAVE some…but not a lot, and nothing worth watching repeatedly, and ultimately nothing worth paying a premium price for.
Don’t get me wrong– the shows aren’t horrible. I was given the reins to put out 6 episodes of a show called The Deal. It was a magazine-style show with two hosts (one of which being porn star Kayden Kross). There was also a political show called “For & Against”, hosted by Jim Morrison, and there was a variety show called “She’s Living for This,” featuring Sherry Vine. Three shows– well, two shows because “The Deal” got cancelled a few months before I was laid off. Decent shows…but not worth the $4.99-$9.99 subscription cost for the channel– depending on what market you were in.
Paul Colichman is the CEO of Here Media, and Here TV is his baby. I remember he once came into the offices, bought us brekky treats and coffee and orange juice, and told us how much Here TV meant to him (a staff/crew made up of 11 people), and how he had great plans for us. He went on and on about how “content is king”– how important it was for him to get the best content he could for the show, and how he counted on us to make that happen. Unfortunately, Paul has the worse taste of anyone I’ve seen in his position.
The movies he funds, the content he wanted, is frankly stuff that no one wants to see! He even mentioned the fact that he has to make “shitty” movies in order to pay the bills. I don’t know why assumed the movies had to be shitty…but he did. He desperately wanted content to put on Here TV, but he didn’t want to pay for it. Here Media has a rather unfortunate reputation for NOT paying people. Now, I was on staff so I DID get paid (poorly, but I got paid). When it came to freelancers, however– from on-camera talent, to photographers and writers (for other Here properties Out and The Advocate)…there seemed to be many issues with getting people their money. Then there’s the legal matter involving a $90 million dollar lawsuit involving Here’s production company Regent Group of Entertainment:
Merrill Lynch and Bank of America claim they were scammed for $90 million by a director of the Regent Group of Entertainment Companies, who used bogus movie license and distribution agreements to get loans.
This lawsuit has put a freeze on nearly 70% of Here TV’s content– which is why IF you were to ever watch the channel, you could see all of that remaining content in about 2-3 full days. ALL of their content. And that is what they rerun…EVERY DAY. The channel is hemorrhaging subscribers, who constantly send in negative emails about how they are sick of watching the same shows OVER AND OVER again! I don’t blame ’em!
I had heard Paul’s request for “content”, and I went about creating the most compelling, and least expensive, content that I could. I pitch two television series, and animated series, and two movies– all of which were met with very positive feedback from the head of production. The only issues, according to him, was getting Paul to spend the money. Turns out that not only did he not want to spend the money, but he wouldn’t entertain anything scripted unless if was written by a WGA writer. That was a bit odd to me because 1) if he produced a script by a non-guild writer…that writer COULD EVENTUALLY get into the guild! And 2) he DID NOT WANT TO SPEND THE MONEY. He wanted “free content”, basically. In studio, we had all the equipment we needed to shoot shows! But unless it was some sort of interview thing, or something else that didn’t really require a budget or paying on-screen talent, or paying for writers…they were not interest.
I don’t want to sound like a disgruntled former employee– I really did enjoy my time at Here TV, as well as the people I worked with! The problem wasn’t the people…the problem was the leadership and the vision. And that lays completely at Paul’s feet. Not to disparage the guy– he’s a very affable, amiable dude! He’s just got shitty taste, and an odd ethic for creating good television/movies.
To be honest, I haven’t really stayed up-to-date on the going’s on at Here TV. I know they were gearing up to produce more episodes of “For & Against” and “She’s Living for This”– both are GREAT shows, and I highly recommend them both. But to be honest, I don’t know how that channel can survive on a subscriber model for two shows that run about 6-8 episodes per season. I know they were trying out iTunes and Hulu at the time I was laid off…but hey, it’s not my problem anymore.
Although I had an unfortunate end to my run at Here, I still had a great time. Here are some of my highlights from my tenure:
Fun stuff for me.
Thanks for reading!