Guess who’s coming to dinner

It’s like something out of an episode of Bewitched. The boss is coming to dinner tomorrow. Geez, I hope Jennifer doesn’t turn him into a toad or something.
We’re having my new Executive Producer, Paul Block, over with his wife, Gila, for a cookout. I’m going to make something from the Silver Palette cookbook called Chicken Marbella. Have to get the ingredients this morning because it has to marinate all day. I also have to get some good cognac to go with the cigars Paul promised to bring. Paul’s a former yo-yo champ so he’s going to bring one along to show the kids. And their dog Poogie, too! It should be a beautiful day. It’s hot and sunny today with a high nearing 80F. A little cooler tomorrow but still perfect for a barbecue.

The chain of command might seem a little blurry at TechTV. I often talk about the Boss, but there are several different people that could be.

The heirarchy goes like this. The show has two line producers, Russ and Josette, who are in charge during the actual show itself. They alternate days. Above them is the series producer, Ken Marquis. His immediate boss is Paul, our Executive Producer. Paul was brought in to run the Help Zone, but since Call for Help has moved to TechLive, that’s only one show for now. So we’re a little top-heavy. But Paul’s the guy I listen to most. He’s been doing live talk shows for years, including six years with The Tonight Show in the Johnny Carson era. He and I see eye-to-eye 99% of the time. And he’s really spiffed up the show.

Above Paul are Henry Kaiser, the channel’s Executive Supervising Producer for Network Programming (another really great guy). Jim Louderback is in here somewhere as VP and Editorial Director. Then there’s Peter Hammersly, VP and Executive Producer. Above him is Greg Drebin, Senior VP for Programming and Production. Our COO is Joe Gillespie and CEO is Larry Wangberg. Paul Allen is the big cheese who pays the bills.

Any one of those people could technically be called my boss. Welcome to the Dilbert Zone. Then of course there’s the handful of people who actually do the work – probably fewer in number than the executives. Ain’t it always that way?

Truth is my only real boss is our audience. If we get the numbers I can do anything I want. If we don’t. Bye bye.

29 Replies to “Guess who’s coming to dinner”

  1. Sorry to see you leave the Call For Help, But glad to see you still will be with Tech TV after that srary April Fools Joke I got in my email about you leaving.
    Hey Leo! I shure wish you would address Microsofts new registration requirments for Office 2000 SR-1. I bought it and put it on my PC and it did not get setup right and I had to reinstall. Low and behold I had to get the big M to give me a new conformation code as it has to be registered every time. Also I can’t put it on my wifes PC as you are only allowed one install and reinstall’s must be cleared by Microsoft. My version is the Full Version not an Upgrade. I should be able to have it on all PC’s in my home, at least that’s what I think. I am retired and living on a very fixed income and the prospect of buying another copy is out of my budget. I guess Bill think’s we all are in his income range. I still haven’t figured how they do it. The code I got when I registered it the first time would not work on the reinstall and when they gave me a new one it worked. How in the world do they do that as it is on a CD and I know they can’t write to it as they could a floppy.
    Well enough of that. I wish you all the good fortune in the world in this new platform and will be watching as much as possible…. John Cheuvront

  2. Can Jennifer wiggle the tip of her nose independently of the rest of her body? If so, you may be in the zone for some interesting negotiating. :o) Or, keep the TV show theme by being Rob and Laura Petrie and wacky hijinks are on the way when Allen Brady comes over to eat. (wardrobe: dark suit w/ skinny tie for you, capri pants and sassy turtleneck for your wife. Sleep in separate twin beds for authenticity. At some point during the evening you’ll trip over a piece of furniture while you’ve got a cigar in your mouth and a small fire will start.)
    It’s sounds like a management orgy over at TechTV! Any pointy-haired ones? Actually, the “worm-butterfly” comment comes pretty close to pointy-haired-boss territory. “You used to ****, now you’re better!” Gee, um, thanks . . . (fumbling for therapist’s phone number) “You were a multi-segmented annelid, now you’re a flying insect with a short life span and many natural enemies!” Love ya, don’t ever change.
    I find it quite difficult to believe that you were ever “bleech” on the air, we all get better at what we do but that sounds seriously pointy-haired to me. Would these be the same geniuses that let David Letterman go over to CBS? Just curious, I think that’d be a good pointy-hair benchmark. I never got to see your stuff in those days, but I bet it was fab.
    Smooches to you,
    –administering over-management antidote serum through my monitor

  3. The good thing about having so many “bosses” is the mischief that can be caused! It’s like knocking over dominos! Do something questionable and you’ll have a “boss” on your case. You then tell them that one of your other “bosses” told you to do it and then the ball gets rolling. Whatever havoc you caused will be forgotten because of the impending confusion.
    I’ve scripted something that probably happens every day in corporate America (each tick denotes a different person):
    -Did the Executive VP request it?
    –No, it was the Vice President of Acquisitions!
    -Who’s the Vice President of Acquisitions?
    —I’m the Vice President of Acquisitions!
    -I didn’t even know whe had one of those! Who’s your boss?
    —You are!
    –I’m going to go get some coffee . . .
    —-Did I hear my name mentioned?
    -No, she said “coffee”. Who are you?
    —-I’m the COO.
    -Are you my boss?
    —-I’m not sure . . . let’s go look at the business plan.
    -Um, okay, who has that?
    —-My boss does.
    —Who’s your boss?
    —-I don’t know! Hold me!
    Sorry, go a little carried away, there. The main thing is: as long as your job gets done, regardless of who sees themself as getting the credit or being the “creative” one, does it really matter how many bosses you have? It’s about enjoying your job and doing it well . . . right? Uh . . . RIGHT? It’s not JUST about the money, is it? IS IT? Hello?!?
    ; )
    Take it easy,

  4. Hi, Shayne. I’m totally respected by my bosses at TechTV. I’m certainly not a slave, although the terms of my first contract might have leaned a little that way. But that’s because I didn’t have any negotiating leverage when I signed it three years ago. My new contract is much more flexible and fair.
    I’ve always been treated with utmost respect and consideration at the channel. And my wishes are always taken into consideration. I don’t control everything, by any means, but the stuff that goes on my shows is generally done with my blessing. As I become a cog in a larger machine, that will change, but I think I can continue to set the tone and ethic for what I do. I work very hard to instill the notion that the needs of the audience come first.
    “Talent” is always in an interesting position in TV. In their hearts, producers believe they’re the real creative types. Talent = meat puppet in their thinking. And in many cases that’s probably more true than not. I’m in a different position because I create the content that I deliver. When someone becomes a star, the balance of power shifts and the producers exist only to support the talent. I am nowhere near that exalted status, and I doubt I will ever be. But frankly I prefer working as part of a team anyway.

  5. I forgot to add, now that I’m part of TechLive I have four more bosses: my line producer, Aaron. The Executive Producer for TechLive, Carolyn Kane and the news director, Harry Fuller.
    The guy who’s really running TechLive for now is a consultant, David Bohrman. David is the former CEO of the late, not-so-great, and got CNNfn off the ground. We worked together when he was MSNBC’s liason for The Site. Very smart and talented guy. It was David who told me that the NBC execs thought I was blecch on the air (an exact quote). He was also the guy who suggested I become Dev Null, Soledad’s animated sidekick on the show. I won an Emmy for that so I guess I should thank him. I always figured I was Dev because NBC didn’t want to see my face.
    I asked David about that a couple of weeks back and he said I’ve grown from a worm to a butterfly. A worm? At least he could have said caterpillar. Actually I think I was just as good then, but I’m not the kind of guy you look at and say, gee we’ve got to get him on TV. I doubt very much I would have a career in TV at all if ZDTV hadn’t been desparate for some cheap programming.
    Shows you how much luck and timing have to do with success in this business.

  6. Leo,
    Dinner sounds great! Enjoy! Have fun! Can we come over too? 😉 Just joking! Maybe you could get your boss in front of the net cam while he’s there today.
    BTW, I don’t know if you noticed or not, but your net cam pixs are very realistic! I see your background looks much like ours does at times! A pile of laundry behind you, and a tie across your chair! Seeing as you are in a t-shirt, makes me wonder if you were trying on clothes to pick what you wanted to wear for the next day, or maybe your first day on the new shows! 😉
    I’m looking forward to tomorrows new shows! C ya then!

  7. Wow! What a story. You are not “blecch,” you are the ‘bees knees.’ And that’s a compliment! (Crazy way to make a living, huh?) Well, I hope you don’t really listen to those dopey people trying to tell you anything about your performance. You have wonderful instincts about what makes good tv (and good radio from what I’ve read on your home page) so, do what you want to do. I guess I can only cringe and hope those bosses find someone else to “help.” I’m glad to hear that most of the “higher ups” respect you and your work, that’s a good place to be. Enjoy!

  8. Leo, I have watched “Call For Help” and “The Screen Savers” all over the world in countries like France, Brasil, Germany, and Mexico and loved it. I was concerned that going to “TechLive” it wasn’t going to be the same but I am confident its going to be great. Question: I put a blog program on my webpage but I can’t find anywhere on it where people can put “comments” . Do they offer it on “Blogger” or do you use another service? .. thanks again for the great job . D. Blunt

  9. I have to believe that this is an April Fools joke.
    Why would TechTV let Leo leave, even temporarily when they are ready to kick off their new LIVE programming format. And without Leo —
    My bet is that it is a bit of fun on an April Fools day Sunday – without the live programming to either confirm or deny the rumor.
    Pretty cute though. (Hopefully, I won’t be eating my words).
    Faithful Fan –
    Chris Keller
    (well, ok, at least “pretty faithful…”)

  10. hi leo. i have a personna; question for mr. marquis. does he know anything of his family history ? ni know this may sound odd. my mom’s maiden name is marquess. marquis and marquess are variant spellings of the same family name.if his family left france around the time of the revolution we might be distantly related. somehow my mmo’s family went from france to canada to the us. at least as far as i have been told.

  11. i hate to say this.i don’t like the new show. it’s too busy. there scrooling drives me mad and we lose the left hand side to blinking stock quotes. it’s time to send out for lithium for whoever thought of the layout for tv. it does not seem as freindly nor funny as the old shows were. it seems a lot of the warth and freindlyness is lost in a sterlie enviorment.

  12. Hey Leo remember me, Shayne Sweeney, talk to you a couple times over the phone at your office. Oh well.
    Just wondering how much say so do you have at techtv, are you treated like a slave or do you have great respect from others.

  13. Leo = “Survivor”? I hope this is an April Fool’s joke. 🙂 I’d be lost without my Leo fix. I’ve learned so much from you and the rest of the cast. But, “Survivor”? Does this mean that Patrick and Marty will host the next “Temptation Island”?

  14. Leo,
    BTW, your email is bouncing today. I tried to reply to your Laporte Report Email today and it bounced. Just thought you’d want to know!

  15. This just in, science has found that eating a lot of candy is good for you. Flash all other MLB Baseball teams on Strike World Champions by default the Montreal Expos. What does this have to do with Leo hostin Survivor? They all make great April Fools pranks. Happy April Fools day. And remember to set those clocks back 2 hours since the year ends in a one.

  16. Leo … tell me it ain’t so… “Dish: Leo Laporte to Host Next Survivor. Host of ‘The Screen Savers’ gets ready to lead the tribal council” Oh My God. We’re talking morbidly pathetic television!!!

  17. Very interesting! I’ve always wondered about that. How did Jim get up so high? I remember when he used to do CFH before Becky and how funny it was…it really shows how you are the only one who can REALLY do it right! 🙂

  18. Thanks Leo, for the management explaination. I like the setup where I work .. I sit exactly 7 feet away from our CEO and about 15 feet from the CTO. It is nice to actually “know” those people — sometimes you just know what they look like, who to watch out for, etc. A family type environment in a work-place is great, it really helps morale.
    Welp, my 2 cents.

  19. Leo has more bosses than most people have underlings! Just remember Leo that you have to have at least a 12:1 ratio of underlings to bosses for good mental growth! Actually a sign of success is having a person under you that’s sole responsibility is flossing your teeth before each show. Gotta keep them pearly whites sparkling!
    I’m currently auditioning for the job of Scott Herriott’s personal lint brusher.

  20. Hey John, ever considered Star Office from Sun? It’s free, and it’ll import and export Office files…

  21. Think about it…when has anybody gotten TSS’s newsletter on a SUNDAY???
    As far as I know they get sent Friday night or Monday morning.

  22. Don’t worry Leo, If ya spill soup on your boss you can rest asure, there’ll always be a place for you at Shopko.
    Dan S

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