Jerry Offsay

Jerry Offsay

Interview Date: January 9, 2004
Interview Location: Encino, California USA
Interviewer: Ray Richmond
Collection: Hauser Project
Note: Video is in two parts.

RICHMOND: I’m Ray Richmond and we’re talking today with Jerry Offsay, the long-time President of Programming for Showtime for The Cable Center’s Oral and Video History Project. We’re sitting in Jerry’s plush home in Encino, California and it’s the morning of Friday, January 9, 2004. So, before we get into your fruitful tenure at Showtime, maybe just talk a little bit about your background – where you grew up, what you did for a living before your nine years…

OFFSAY: Before cable TV?

RICHMOND: Before cable TV came and rescued you.

OFFSAY: I grew up in the Bronx and went to school in New York. I was going to be a lawyer from the age of ten, an ambition that I successfully achieved by going to law school at Columbia and in 1977 I moved immediately upon graduation from law school to California to work for a law firm called Loeb & Loeb where, at the tender age of 28, they graciously made me a partner in the firm and I had lifetime tenure there but I really was bored with doing deals and the law.

RICHMOND: Contract law?

OFFSAY: Yeah, entertainment law. I was putting together independent movies before anybody talked about there being independent movies. I represented the big foreign sales companies, the brand new video companies, independent investors that wanted to put some money into the movie business, the crazy millionaires – Jim Robinson, who founded Morgan Creek was one of my clients in those early days; Joe Roth was a client of mine in those days. I just looked for the right opportunity to get out of the law and do something else and at 31 I got offered a job as President of Production at RKO, which was one of my clients which had largely been out of the movie business from 1958 until the mid-80s but had decided that it wanted to get back in the business on a controlled small investment basis and in the first year at RKO I put five movies into production including Hamburger Hill and Eight Men Out.

RICHMOND: For which you were credited as executive producer.

OFFSAY: Right, on both of those, and after that, what I thought was successful, one year the company that owned RKO, General Tire and Rubber Company, was informed that they were losing their broadcasting licenses because of some evil deeds they had committed fifteen years before and they had decided if they weren’t going to be in the broadcasting business anymore they didn’t want to be in the movie business anymore either, which then led to my buying, through management buyouts and LBOs and other things, the company twice with two new sets of owners from them and going from making five movies in one year to two movies in four years as I got thrown back in a room with a bunch of lawyers and bankers and investment bankers and the like. Then in 1990 I got rescued from that by Brandon Stoddard when it became legal again for the networks to own their own programming. ABC decided it wanted to start its own programming company and I went in to be Brandon Stoddard’s partner.

RICHMOND: ABC Productions?

OFFSAY: ABC Productions, which I did for four years and then in the fall of 1993 Matt Blank was looking for somebody to be the new head of programming at Showtime and in December of ’93 they gave the job to me on my 40th birthday.

RICHMOND: Did you always know that this was going to be a nine or ten year job for you because I know…

OFFSAY: I told it to Matt Blank on the phone the day that I accepted it. The mantra is “ten and out” and all my contracts at Showtime were negotiated with that end date in mind and my producing deal was scheduled to start January 1, 2004.

RICHMOND: He may have been thinking “Ten years? Who said anything about ten years? You may be here a year, buddy!”

OFFSAY: Right, and probably they did. In the early days a lot of people laughed, especially when I walked in sixty days after he hired me and said we’re going to go from making eight movies a year to forty movies a year and that’s my plan.

RICHMOND: That was Matt Blank’s idea? That was your idea?

OFFSAY: No, that was my idea to go from doing that. I think Matt Blank’s idea at that point in time was is this guy crazy or what?

RICHMOND: Yeah – quintupling!

OFFSAY: To his credit, for which I’ll forever be grateful, he listened, maybe he thought well, it’ll be his funeral, but he said, “Go ahead!” And over the objections of other Showtime execs in New York as he’s pointed out to me a number of times, he supported it and backed the notion and we went out and embarked on putting an original movie on every week, which took from January of ’94 when I started to August of ’95 when Showtime launched an original movie every week.

RICHMOND: That’s just unbelievable! You created nearly 300 movies?

OFFSAY: I think something a little above that.

RICHMOND: Over 300. That’s almost 35 a year, which is completely unheard of. More than 70 of them were nominated for Emmys.


RICHMOND: What was your thinking with that?

OFFSAY: Somewhat facetiously it was, hey, if you get enough turns at bat even a blind man gets a hit, but it was based on a couple of things. Number one, it was based on the premise that Showtime’s business and premium television had fundamentally had changed and that when premium television was launched in the late ‘70s, early ‘80s, the second place that you could see a movie was on premium TV. It went from the theater to your pay channel. There was no home video at that time, there was no pay-per-view in your living room. Movies weren’t playing on airplanes they way they are now, and they definitely weren’t in your hotel room. By the time I got the job, a movie that was coming to Showtime from Paramount or MGM, or whoever it is, we were the sixth window to see that movie. If you cared about that movie you had seen it …

RICHMOND: Twice already.

OFFSAY: Before it could get to us, and if you didn’t care enough to see it then it wasn’t going to be a very compelling selling tool to say, oh, good news, now you can see this movie that you had already chosen to pass up in the theaters, in the video store, on your airplane, in your hotel room, and now even in your living room on pay-per-view, so you needed something else. You needed to be able to have a compelling sales proposition. Another one of the tenants of what was underlying is that people watch TV every week. They don’t watch it monthly. HBO put on a movie every month, Showtime was putting a movie on every month. Sometimes it was the first Saturday of the month, sometimes it was the first Sunday, sometimes the second Saturday – people who were in charge of programming couldn’t tell you when the movies were on Showtime, and so we wanted to have something that had regularity and that promise to the subscriber that said every week, Sunday night at 8:00 there’s going to be something new that you’ve never seen before. It’s going to have good stars in it, it’s going to be written by theatrical writers, directed by theatrical directors. It’s going to be just like the theatrical movies that are the mainstay of the channel. It’s going to fit very nicely with that programming except it’s going to be brand new. Those were really the underpinnings of that, and it was also something that we knew that with the studios making only rollercoaster ride, at that time 80 million dollar movies, which are now 120 million dollar movies, that the richest treasure trove of material that was going to be available was the small, personal, intimate, dramatic film, the thought-provoking story, the intelligent drama that networks didn’t want to do because they were doing the teenage cheerleader who had an affair with the coach and tried to kill his wife, Amy Fisher times three. And the studios were doing blockbusters, and so there was a hole in the marketplace where we could get big name people to do important pieces that the press would write about that would promote the network, and bring credit to us. So it was a combination of seeing an opportunity in the marketplace where there was material available and wanting to give people something on a regular basis and needing to give them something that wasn’t a theatrical movie.

RICHMOND: So you didn’t come there with marching orders to amp up production or to push the envelope creatively? They didn’t say, “Here’s what we want you to do, Jerry.” This was all Jerry Offsay.

OFFSAY: Yeah, what they said to me is you have a reputation for being able to get more bang for the buck, and you’ve done it at other companies, and you know how to find other sources of financing and bring those skills to us.

RICHMOND: Because you came in as a money guy.

OFFSAY: Yeah, I mean I came in as the head of programming, but I came in as someone who had put money…

RICHMOND: That was your history.

OFFSAY: Yeah. I knew where to find other people’s money and put it to good use. So I was going to be able, if I was better at putting the money together than the people beforehand, I was going to be able to do more than they did because I at least had as much money of Showtime’s to work with as they did, and if I could find more money out of international or video or some other place, then I could expand to the extent that the money would stretch. I came in and said I can spend the same money and make 40 movies as you were doing to spend eight, and it was close to right. Maybe we spent 120% of the money that they did to do 40 movies.

RICHMOND: Besides Matt Blank, were there others who questioned the sanity of this whole arrangement?

OFFSAY: Yeah, no, in fact Matt was the least of it. He was the most supportive of them all, but there was a day, not a day, there were three Fridays in a row in 1995, a year after I got there, where I had to fly to New York and sit in a room with every senior executive in Showtime, all of whom were in New York except for me, and let them grill me on whether this really was going to be the strategy or not. At that time I had 30 pictures in production, but the notion was we could take those thirty pictures and put them on over two years or three years rather than all in one year, and it became a make or break. If we were going to go in the summer of ’95 with a movie every week, everybody in the company had to sign off on it, and Matt, I think, had always said, you know what? Let’s go see if he can do it. Let’s go see how good they look, and if he can do it and they look good, then maybe we’ll actually go with this strategy, and there was always a way to pull back which is to space them out over a longer period of time. Go back and put them on one a month for three years, and I would have just made three years worth in the first year, and people could have rested for a while.

RICHMOND: But, I mean, this is four, five, six times as much production as any cable entity had ever done before. That’s what I think needs to be realized here is that this wasn’t just doubling or tripling, it was a mind-boggling undertaking.

OFFSAY: Yeah, and the naysayers were legion. You’d go to the television…

RICHMOND: How can you make quality stuff if…

OFFSAY: Yeah, they would say he’s never going to get them done, if he does get them done they’re not going to be any good. He’s never going to be able to finance them. Nobody’s ever going to step up and put up the money for them, and you’re going to end up with a lot of crap. We lived with that for a year and a half until they hit the air, from the time we said we were going to do it until people could actually see them we lived with people saying this stuff isn’t going to be any good. Fortunately we came out of the gate with some strong entries. We launched with John Voight in Convict Cowboy and Jim Belushi in Sahara, and Harrison Bergeron and Hiroshima were the first four movies that went on the air. TV Guide gave two of them a nine out of ten, and Hiroshima a ten out of ten.

RICHMOND: Which I recall raving about at the time.

OFFSAY: You did. It was the week after you trashed me for putting on Howie Mandel, so this whole interview is about showing that I don’t hold a grudge because nobody ever wrote a nastier article than that first article.

RICHMOND: Or more of a rave than the second.

OFFSAY: But after you proclaimed me an idiot one week, you proclaimed me a genius the next week, neither of them was correct, but we had the goods at that time. Those films were good. We started out with the notion that we were going to do four different kinds of films – family films, sci-fi films, thrillers, and classy Hallmark Hall of Fame kinds of movies, and we stuck to that for three years and did the movie every week for three years through the end of ’97.

RICHMOND: What ultimately led to the need to curtail that pace?

OFFSAY: Well, before we curtailed it we actually upped it, but we made a strategic shift.

RICHMOND: Yeah, you were doing 50 a year for a while.

OFFSAY: Yeah, we actually went into the 60s at one point in time because in ’98 and ’99 I did 35 for Showtime and 26 for The Movie Channel, but what we found was that the genre thrillers that we were doing were cannibalizing the goodwill for the family movies and the classy ones because the critics, you and other people who wrote about these things, didn’t want to see the 27th version of Body Heat or Fatal Attraction with lesser stars even if they were good. They would write, “We can’t believe that Showtime, who last week brought us this great piece about South Africa with Arthur Penn, and next week has this great movie with Tom Selleck, this week has this piece of thriller crap. What are they thinking?” And so after you read that, it took a long time to sink in to me, but after you read it 20 or 30 times you realize that there may be addition by subtraction. So we set up two different brands: we set up the classy brand on Showtime and we only did the family movies and the Hallmark type movies for Showtime, and we took all the genre movies, the sci-fis, the comedies that we were doing with the National Lampoon, the thrillers, and we put them on The Movie Channel. We made that the popcorn channel and now you had two very distinctly different brands of programming on the two networks and we went with a very fun campaign on The Movie Channel around these popcorn movies and Showtime… the air was cleaned up on Showtime. You just had things, whether you liked them every week or not, they aimed high. They aspired to be high quality, the family movies took off and just became a machine that led to six Emmys in a row for best family film, actually seven in six years because one year we tied ourselves for best picture, and you ended up with important subject matters, gay-themed movies, African-American-themed movies, significant dramas, things based on books, and family movies on Showtime. It drove the ratings for the movies down because the thrillers and the sci-fis actually…

RICHMOND: Are what get the masses to watch.

OFFSAY: Yeah, got the masses to watch, and I remember going in to tell Sumner Redstone at the time, and Phillipe Domain and Tom Dooley at the budget meeting for 1998 that I was going to drive the movie ratings down in ’98 and it was going to be the best thing that ever happened to us because we were going to have this consistent positioning in the marketplace and appearance of the films, and that they were all going to pull in the same direction instead of fighting each other, and we started to get far more credit, far more award nominations, far more buzz for those slates of films.

RICHMOND: And less viewership.

OFFSAY: Yeah, and lower ratings.

RICHMOND: How important are ratings to a premium cable network? I’ve always kind of wondered what the…

OFFSAY: Well, Matt always told me, and I’ve said this before and he doesn’t mind my saying it, that my job was not to make home movies, and so you walk that fine line between how much viewership is enough and how important.

RICHMOND: Because it’s all about subscribers.

OFFSAY: Yeah, how important is it to get the people in there, and part of it is that the movies had two values. One is you actually watched it, and the other one was the gee, maybe I’m missing something if I don’t have Showtime factor, and that measured itself in… if you pick up your Sunday newspaper and you pull out the TV section and Brian Dennehy’s picture is on the cover from Death of a Salesman and it says “only on Showtime this week – Dennehy, Death of a Salesman in his Tony-winning performance, if you’re the thinking viewer you may not be there at 8:00 Sunday night, but you say, hmm, you know what? That thing has value, that subscription, and I have to make a decision every month whether I’m going to shell my money out or not, and I’m trying to convince you that you don’t want to give us up because maybe, just maybe, you’ll be missing something if you don’t have Showtime, and so a movie, Death of a Salesman is a perfect example – it was the lowest rated thing I ever put on the air. Brian won the Golden Globe, he was nominated for the Emmy, he was nominated for the Screen Actors Guild Award, and we won the Producers Guild Award for best television long-form production of the year, best long-form on television. Nobody watched. Was that a success or was that a failure? The answer is that we got nine million dollars worth of press and publicity and it only cost me a million and a half million dollars to make it. So the programming was free…

RICHMOND: Did you have to make that argument with your superiors?

OFFSAY: You know, I went through it with them. Matt completely got it and was supportive of it, and Viacom was in those days supportive of that notion and recognized the value of that, and in our first meeting with Mel Karmizan, Death of a Salesman was going on that next weekend, I was able to walk in and lay on the conference table in the board thing the New York and LA Times Sunday television supplements, both of which had pictures of Brian Dennehy on the cover, and say this is what we try and do. The New York Times and the LA Times decided that the most important thing on television this week was on Showtime. We’re only in 12% of the homes. There’s a bias against giving you that cover because 88% of the viewers out there can’t watch what you have on the air, and so what you’ve got has to really be special if you’re going to get it. And if you can get New York and LA the same week, you’ve hit the grand slam homerun if you’re doing what I’m doing. And then the viewership becomes less critical because it’s serving other purposes for you. But, obviously, you don’t feel good when you wake up on Monday morning, or Tuesday we get our ratings, and find out that nobody has watched this thing that everyone has written about and said how wonderful it is and make sure not to miss it.

RICHMOND: Well, that leads me to another point. I think it’s safe to say no one has done more to keep TV safe from censorship and dedicated to free expression than Jerry Offsay.

OFFSAY: Thank you.

RICHMOND: You took politically incorrect rejects that no one would touch like Bastard Out Of Carolina off TNT’s hands, and the remake of Lolita, which couldn’t get released, and you aired movies about child sexual abuse, childhood rape, Gulf War Syndrome, the obscenity charges against Robert Maplethorpe – how does a guy manage to fight the artistic integrity and no limits battle while operating inside that construct of the profit driven business?

OFFSAY: Actually that was easier than you would suspect because there the leadership came right from the top. Sumner Redstone is anti-censorship, he is a champion of freedom of speech and freedom of expression. Mel Karmizan backed Howard Stern in his battles against censorship. When I wanted to do Strange Election, which is another project that two networks had run away from – I’m sorry, Strange Justice, about Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill – I actually, Matt Blank said to me, you know what, maybe this time we ought to ask somebody because we’re going to be pissing off a Supreme Court Justice. So I picked up the phone and I called Phillipe Domain and he said, “God, Jerry, I’m so sorry you made this phone call!” And I said “Why, you don’t want me to do it?” He said, “No, I’m not going to give you an opinion on whether you should do it or not. I believe in freedom of expression. I’m only worried that you might decide not to do it and that somehow in the story about you’re not doing it, it will come out that you called and checked with us and that somebody might think we told you not to do it.” And so they weren’t upset that I was doing it. They were upset that I had asked the question. They trusted us to know our business and know what the ups and downs of it were, and they weren’t going to meddle in, and we went ahead and did it, and not only did we go ahead and do it, but Paramount’s own production company, our sister production company, produced it with us. The whole company was behind making that thing, and when we won the Peabody Award it was one of the great triumphs to have been able to put that on when Warner Bros. and Fox had decided to censor their programmers.

RICHMOND: I mean it’s such a PC era now, and everyone’s so running scared of offending any single group. Did you ever feel… you probably didn’t even get that much flack for doing this stuff. I’m sure people weren’t…

OFFSAY: You know, I had the people calling me when we were putting Lolita on the air who were trying to get past my trusted and able assistant Carole, which they found out would be impossible, radio televangelists calling up and saying, “We want to speak to Mr. Offsay and find out why he thinks it’s okay to put child molesters on his air.”

RICHMOND: People, of course, had never seen the movie.

OFFSAY: Of course! They’d never seen the movie and during those days we got at least four or five calls of people who wanted me on live radio, wanted to grill me on the air. We had tons of people who wanted to press their agenda against us. We got some letters that objected.

RICHMOND: As if you’re advocating child molestation.

OFFSAY: Yeah. As if they had read Lolita like the book advocated it, but I sat there with two things at my elbow during the Lolita thing. One was a speech that Sumner Redstone had given to what was then called the National Conference of Christians and Jews talking about the responsibility of the media to not be comfortable, to push the envelope, to do the shows and the programs that people might feel uncomfortable about but that would expand the horizons, and not to play it safe. I had that next to me so that any reporter who I talked to wanted to know what Viacom’s opinion would be I would say, “Well, I never called and asked them about this, but here’s what Sumner told the NCCJ.” And I also sat there with the two lists – one of them was the Modern Library List of the 100 Greatest Novels of the 20th Century, which had just come out, this was 1999.

RICHMOND: Lolita had to be one of them.

OFFSAY: Lolita was number four, and the other one was a list where Lolita was number one. And they said to me, “Why would you put this on?” I said, “Well, somewhere between the most important and the fourth most important book of the last 100 years, according not to me but the editors of the Modern Library or whatever, so I thought that if the book’s that important than maybe a film about it could also be that important.” Of course it was the highest rated thing we put on the air by 50% that year, as was Bastard Out Of Carolina when I put that on in the year that we did that movie. They were quality works by quality people that were seriously minded, that were promoting no agenda except dramatizing a quality piece of fiction, and allowing people to see it. The great thing about a free country and freedom of speech is if you want to watch it you can, if you don’t want to watch it turn the channel. If you don’t want to subscribe, turn off your subscription. You don’t have to go to that extreme, you could just… it’s on at 8:00 on Sunday.

RICHMOND: You can choose not to watch it.

OFFSAY: In the case of those movies, they weren’t on at 8:00, they were on at a later hour because we thought the subject matter required them to be on at a later hour, have them less accessible to kids, but whenever it is that we put them on you could tune in or you could tune out, and that’s you’re freedom. But I don’t know of any place in the Constitution where anyone has their freedom to impose their view of what someone should watch on somebody else.

RICHMOND: Try though they might.

OFFSAY: And so I was on the side of the angels, and it was good for business and in Hollywood it was a popular position to be on. I was that lawyer from the age of ten years old. I agreed with the late Justice Douglas when he said that the First Amendment says Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech, and no law means no law. You can debate whether yelling fire in a movie theater is something people shouldn’t do, but censoring paintings, which was the issue in the Maplethorpe movie that we did, we won the Golden Globe for best picture for that movie. It was one of the single two greatest moments of my career was winning that, and not just because we won the Golden Globe, but because we won it for that movie, which was so embedded in me, in who I was from the time I was ten years old, as that liberal lawyer who wanted to be in the movie business. It was the perfect synthesis of what it is that turned me on.

RICHMOND: Did you see any drop in subscribers when you ran these movies? Probably not at all.

OFFSAY: No, we saw up ticks in ratings, we saw up ticks in press, we saw up ticks in…

RICHMOND: There’s the hypocrisy of the marketplace is that the defenders of the public’s morality thing that people are going to turn it off, and it only makes them want to watch more of course.

OFFSAY: Yeah. We went through these battles, and the battles come in different shapes and sizes. We took on the Pentagon on Thanks of a Grateful Nation.

RICHMOND: So, the million dollar question, do you feel it’s the responsibility of cable TV in general, and premium cable in particular, to travel into controversial and socially relevant realms where the over-the-air guys won’t tread?

OFFSAY: I don’t think it’s their responsibility. I think their responsibility is to put on programming that will distinguish themselves in the marketplace and draw subscribers in. I think one of the places they can go is to go to the places where the broadcast networks won’t go, and that certainly was one of the major premises that we operated on and led to a lot of our greatest successes. So Soul Food could have been done on any network because it’s just a family drama. It may be a little sexier than it would have been if it was on ABC, but it’s basically about three sisters – in fact, it’s a black version of Sisters – and it just wasn’t done on any network because they’ve never done a successful black drama and they’ve stopped trying.

RICHMOND: So they think it’s the skin color that’s the reason.

OFFSAY: Yeah, and you know, Resurrection Boulevard could have been done on any network, but no one ever even tried to do it once, to do a Hispanic family drama. Those shows won us numerous prizes, got us big audiences. Soul Food’s the highest rated, or tied with Queer as Folk as the highest rated thing on the air. Now Queer as Folk couldn’t have been done by anybody other than Showtime or HBO and it made sense for us to go into the arena and occupy a space that nobody else could because it was edgy premium subject matter, and it wasn’t going to be done by anybody else. But there was no responsibility. We didn’t have to serve the gay community or the black or Hispanic community. We just decided that it would be good for business, and in fact, it turned out to be very good for business.

RICHMOND: Resurrection Boulevard was the first Latino-themed show to feature Latinos primarily on both sides of the camera.

OFFSAY: Right.

RICHMOND: Soul Food, the first successful black drama ever, the biggest in TV history.

OFFSAY: Right.

RICHMOND: And Queer As Folk, the first successful entirely gay-themed show, I don’t know, with apologies to Will and Grace.

OFFSAY: We were there first.

RICHMOND: You were there first, but obviously you have a huge commitment to diversity. It’s hard to believe in this day and age that it would be such an issue, but it is. So why do you think you’ve felt such commitment to make diverse kind of programming that would feature minorities that way? Do you feel like your Jewish background comes into play at all in that?

OFFSAY: You know, I think that there are a lot of answers to that. The simplest and most blunt one is that we thought it was good for our business, that there were audiences out there that weren’t being served by anybody else, and people can call it a niche strategy, and it’s interesting to see as Showtime launches yet my latest gay series, The L Word, it’s a niche show but they’re trying to push it out into the mainstream, which they should. The black audience is 12% of America, the Hispanic audience is 12% of America, and the gay audience is 6-10% of America, and obviously there are some overlaps with gays and blacks and gays and Hispanics, but that’s pretty close to 30% of the people in the country amongst those three groups. One of the notions was maybe we didn’t have the marketing muscle and heft to be the most important show in America, but maybe we could be the most important show to 30% of America by having this show that would be most important to black people, most important to Hispanic people, most important to gay people, and if you cume all that up you’ve got a huge segment of America that says, gee, the show that means the most to me is on this network. So part of the answer is it’s good for business. Part of it is that you want to do what the other people aren’t doing. If I do the 47th cop show or the 12th lawyer show or the 5th hospital show, why pay $10 a month to get Showtime? What’s different about mine? I can have more language, I can have more sex, and I can have more violence, which is something that we never look for in any of our shows, but otherwise what else can you have? And the answer is that you can have content that the other people didn’t have. So if nobody was doing a black drama that was a good place for us to go. If nobody was doing a Hispanic drama then we would have something that was unique. If nobody was doing a gay show then we would have something that was unique. Yeah, I think that there is that – going back to your question – there is that part of you that comes out of my background that says that your aim, that you’re put on the earth, that the world is broken but it can be fixed and the only way that it can be fixed is each person does whatever they can do and that you’re God’s partner in trying to fix the world, and so you can do something that can lift people up or you can do something that can tear them down. If you do these shows and you get the thousands, the thousands of letters that we got back from gay men, from black families, men, women, kids, that they’d never seen themselves on TV before until they watched this show, from Hispanic families. If you go to the cable operator and listen to the Hispanic and African-American people that work there that say, “Thank you because I’ve never seen anybody like me on TV. I’ve only seen myself depicted as a gang member.” You’re not doing it for that because this wasn’t a social action network…

RICHMOND: You’re not doing it for the kudos.

OFFSAY: You’re not doing it for the kudos, but the reward that comes back to you, the kudos that do come back to you were sort of astonishing when they did, but it became part of the thing that we’re doing programming that was good programming and it was good for your soul. In 2001, the week before 9/11, Matt Blank and I got the Governor’s Award from the Television Academy, their highest honor.

RICHMOND: And it’s sitting right there.

OFFSAY: It’s sitting right there. For doing more to advance diversity on television in one year than the rest of the networks combined. They said that, we didn’t say that. But we had launched those three shows within a 12 month period of time and they were all successful and it felt pretty darn good because it had helped our business and we could feel really good about what we had put on the air and the contribution that it had made. So it was a win-win on every level.

RICHMOND: And I guess you never really felt a need necessarily to do a Jewish-themed show since every comedy in TV history probably has a Jewish staff of writers.

OFFSAY: Well, I won an award from the newly formed Jewish Image Awards, actually a lifetime achievement award.

RICHMOND: There is a Jewish Image Awards?

OFFSAY: There is a Jewish Image Awards. It’s had its third go-round and I was their second lifetime achievement award winner, which I think went to the fact that I actually made eight Holocaust movies, which must be some sort of record.

RICHMOND: You made eight in nine years?

OFFSAY: Yeah. I made three with Streisand, three Rescuers movies, which were actually two stories per film, based on a book that my rabbi inspired to be written which was called Rescuers: Portraits of Moral Courage about Christians who had saved Jews during the Holocaust, and Barbra Streisand exec-produced them, and Peter Bogdanovich directed two of the stories and Tim Hunter directed one and Tony Bill directed one, with good stars. So we made those three films, then we made The Devil’s Arithmetic, Dustin Hoffman exec-produced for us, that also won us the Emmy for best family film, and we broadcast the Island on Bird Street, which won the Emmy for best family film, which is another Holocaust film, and we made Varian’s War about Varian Fry who went off and saved the intelligentsia of Europe from the Nazis with Bill Hurt and Julia Ormond that Lionel Chetwynd wrote and directed for us. And then we did Gisella Perl with Christine Lahti this last year. It was my last Holocaust film, and she did a brilliant job about a doctor who survived Auschwitz and worked for Mengele there, and how she made it through that harrowing, harrowing ordeal.

RICHMOND: You understand, of course, you have a completely photographic memory.

OFFSAY: Yeah, it’s a blessing sometimes, sometimes it’s a curse, and I was just going to say and I know there’s one more, but I just remembered that we also did In the Presence of Mine Enemies, a remake of Rod Serling’s Holocaust piece. The great thing about this job, the great thing about the toy that Matt Blank gave me and let me play with for those 9 ½ to 10 years was that we got to do everything. When you get to do 300 movies there is no rock that you can’t turn over. There is no subject matter that you can’t explore, and largely nobody else was doing it. So I was the proverbial kid in the candy store, which is “Oooh, Rod Serling did this Holocaust piece? That looks great, oh, we could do that again. Or Inherit the Wind, let’s go do that again, or 12 Angry Men,” so it wasn’t all…

RICHMOND: Death of a Salesman.

OFFSAY: Yeah, Death of a Salesman. But you can also do 47 African-American themed movies.

RICHMOND: Is that how many you did?

OFFSAY: Yeah, and it was gratifying this week, six months out of the job, to see the Image Award nominations come out and find that Showtime has more than any other network and three to five movies nominated are Showtime’s and four of the five actors nominated are Showtime’s, and in that case particularly gratifying because those four actors are really friends of Showtime – Forest Whittaker and Danny Glover and Lou Gossett and Ossie Davis.

RICHMOND: Who have been in probably collectively 15 or 20 movies for you guys.

OFFSAY: Well, Lou’s been in nine, Danny’s been in three and directed one, and Lou directed one, and Forest has executive produced one and been in two or Three. Forest executive produced Feast of All Saints. And Ossie’s been in seven or eight himself. So, yeah, probably 25 of them, and we gave Lou and Danny their directing debuts. Those people are my friends. I had breakfast with Forest Whittaker yesterday morning which was great because I got to tell him that he had this nomination for his Deacons of Defense film.

RICHMOND: You were always able to get a huge number of A list people.

OFFSAY: Because nobody else was doing the subject matter. We put the time and the effort in. I visited the set of 275 of those 300 movies, and had dinner with the director and the actors. If they were going to leave their home for five or six weeks, I could leave my home for six hours to let them know that I cared about it. We didn’t have as much money as the other guys, particularly as HBO, so we had to do something that gave us some, not competitive edge, but at least enable us to compete, and some of it, I think, was the personal touch, some of it was the fact that they got to do stuff that nobody else was going to let them do.

RICHMOND: You didn’t have the money HBO had but yet you did 10 times the number of movies they did in that same period.

OFFSAY: Yeah, it was a different philosophy.

RICHMOND: Indulge me for one moment though, since I do not have a photographic memory, I was doing some research on some of the great projects you’ve been involved with and it was pretty astonishing, kind of a ground-breaking and impressive list: Hiroshima, Strange Justice, Twilight of the Golds, Thanks of a Grateful Nation, The Baby Dance, Dirty Pictures, Jasper, Texas, Out of the Ashes, The Day Reagan Was Shot, The Passion of Ayn Rand, Soldier’s Girl, Things Behind the Sun, 12 Angry Men, Death of a Salesman, More Tales of the City, Further Tales of the City. The list just goes on and on. You’ve got Emmys, Peabodys, Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild Awards, GLAAD Media Awards, NAACP Image Awards, Humanity Task prizes. You always…

OFFSAY: You’re going to make me miss this job if you keep that up.

RICHMOND: Yet you always seem to be operating in HBO’s shadow with your originals. How frustrating was that and how unfair do you feel it was? This is filed under leading question.

OFFSAY: Yeah, you know, was it frustrating? It was definitely frustrating some days to know that the work that we were doing was every bit as good as the work that they were doing.

RICHMOND: And often better.

OFFSAY: And get a lot of credit for it, but somehow never be able to take that next step up to being considered to be an equal. There must have been 15 different articles over a six or seven year period that said finally Showtime has stepped up to be on the same footing as HBO. Some of those same people had written almost the same article two or three years before when we had had three or four movies that they liked and then even they forgot and we had to go and remind them all over again. The flip side of it is that you can dwell on the negative or you can dwell on the positive. In my last month on the job, May and June, I put on The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone, which is nominated for the Golden Globe for best picture. I put on Soldier’s Girl, which is nominated for the Golden Globe for best picture. I put on Jasper, Texas, which is nominated for the Image Award for best picture and which I hope will next year get some recognition in the Emmys and in the other places. And I put on Out of Order, the series. That was a month’s worth of programming, including those three films. Who else had the chance to do that?

RICHMOND: HBO comes out with Carnivale and everybody loses their lunch, like oh my God, oh my God, it’s Carnivale, they’ve graced us with another hour, which was a piece of crap to my mind anyway.

OFFSAY: They do very good work. They do very good work. They advertise brilliantly. They have more money than God himself and they spend it generously to promote their programming.

RICHMOND: Marketing and perception.

OFFSAY: They’ve done very good work for a very long time, and my premise never was… I don’t have to be better than them, I don’t have to supplant them in your home. I think everybody in America is missing something if they don’t have HBO. My job was to make them feel like they were missing something if they didn’t have Showtime also. It didn’t have to be either them or us. It was us and them, and in fact since generally we’re sold together Showtime’s premise always was that a stronger HBO helped our sales because you’re more inclined to buy premium television if they’re strong, but conversely, a stronger Showtime would help HBO as well because the pricing on one premium channel, 12 bucks for one but 16 bucks for two, it sounds a lot better to get two but nobody wants the second one unless it’s a fairly compelling buy, and our aim was to do something that was going to make us a compelling buy. That list of movies that you went through was just the weekly manifestation of that overarching picture, which is to make people feel like maybe, just maybe they were missing something if they didn’t have Showtime and to do something that would get press and get publicity, which was subject t matter that would make noise, that would draw in the stars. When Jon Voight and Lou Gossett said yes to doing Jasper, Texas within 12 hours after getting the script, why? Partly because I had a relationship with them, mainly because it was such a compelling piece of drama, it was such an important story that it was hard to say no, and both of their reactions were we can’t believe somebody’s making a movie about what went on in that town but thank God that you guys are doing it. So you let the subject matter sort of call to the talent for you, and then how much money we had or how much money we had to promote it, we had almost no money left to promote Jasper, Texas with this year, but it made some noise, it make its mark, it got a lot of press and publicity, it brought credit to the network, and we were pleased to have done it. But did if it had been on HBO…

RICHMOND: They would have promoted it as the second coming.

OFFSAY: Well, would it be one of the pictures that’s nominated for a Golden Globe now? Yes. Is it better than some of the stuff that they have that is nominated for a Golden Globe? Yes. I’ve been doing this for a long time. You said it. I’ve made 79 movies that have been nominated for Emmys. I know when I’ve made something that’s good, when I’ve made something that’s really good, and when I’ve made something that’s great, and some of the stuff that we made that was great just didn’t get as much credit as it would have gotten if it was done someplace else, or done there.

RICHMOND: Marketing? Since your quality is every bit as good as theirs, if not better in many cases, is it all marketing and image?

OFFSAY: It’s not all marketing. It’s halo effect. They have a very big halo effect, which they’ve worked hard to earn and deserve, and which I was working hard to earn and thing we deserved as well, and I think if you look at the pictures nominated for the Golden Globes this year they’re only from Showtime and HBO. The networks still make a lot of movies, all these networks do. They don’t have any nominees. But if you look at how much money we spent on marketing one of our movies and the fact that they spend five, ten, 15, 20 fold what we did on some of those movies… Jasper, Texas went on the air with a $125,000 advertising budget. We took an ad in TV Guide and an ad in the LA Times Television Book and the New York Times Television Book. We let the publicity lead the way for us. What we could get for free, and Jon Voight and Lou Gossett, they did interviews, and people wrote about it and it was an important subject matter and it got covered, but we couldn’t compete in the advertising budget and we didn’t have quite their halo effect, but the movies were recognized for the quality of what they were done. I think the cable operators clearly recognized them which got us a lot of credit. I think the press clearly recognized them, and that translated into us getting column inches for them, and hopefully that was able to translate over to our subscribers so that they realized the value of what it is that they had.

RICHMOND: And so if Resurrection Boulevard and Soul Food are on HBO, completely different audience awareness, image, everything, these things, would it have the same image as say The Sopranos does?

OFFSAY: Yeah, they certainly would be much more in the public consciousness than they are on Showtime where I think Queer As Folk is probably the only series that we put on, and maybe Stargate – we did Outer Limits and Stargate so it wasn’t all high-minded dramas…

RICHMOND: And Chris Isaak.

OFFSAY: Yeah, and we created two big franchises in Outer Limits and Stargate which have gone on after they outlived their usefulness on Showtime after five an six years they’ve gone on to be very successful on the Sci-Fi channel, but it’s hard to become part of the popular culture, which HBO shows have been able to do and very few others do, and which maybe Queer As Folk has to a lesser extent, but nothing else has popped the way you would have liked it to. If Chris Isaak was on HBO would he have been nominate for the Emmy, or would the show have been nominated for the Emmy? No question about it. Howard Rosenburg wrote that in the LA Times several times and a bunch of other people have written it in other newspapers around the country and it just never, even with all that critical acclaim went it went on, it didn’t catch fire the way we would have liked it to and it became a critical success and not a mainstream, commercial success. 90% of television shows don’t become successes so our batting average was way, way above the norm, but you still regret the shows like Beggars and Choosers and Chris Isaak, which I think may be the two best series that I put on the air, and certainly had the critical reviews and people who wanted them to get Emmy nominations and thought they should.

RICHMOND: Beggars and Choosers was wonderful, and that was with Brandon Tartikoff, right?

OFFSAY: Yeah, yeah, it was Brandon’s last creation about people who do what he and I did for a living, and now that I am no longer the chooser I guess I must be the beggar. I didn’t want to be the chooser anymore, but I’m not really sure I want to be the beggar either.

RICHMOND: No. But you’ve earned the right not to beg. Just to get back to the volume issue for a second, was it economics in the business and at Viacom in general with the change that forced the huge curtailment in the number of movies you did? And that was about ’98, ’99?

OFFSAY: Yes, it was in ’99 and 2000 we phased out the movies on The Movie Channel, so that went away first. By 2001 we had come down to 30 movies on Showtime and in 2002 we came down to 24 movies on Showtime. In 2003 we were going to come down to 18 or 19, but in fact it came down faster than that probably to 13 or 14 movies. And it was partly to be able to shift more of the resources to series, which HBO had had huge success in series and we’d had huge success in series, but the feeling was we didn’t have enough resources to service them both at the level that we were at and we needed to put more of our chips on the series side and less on the movies. It was partly the fact that the unit cost of everything that we were making was going up dramatically because the foreign revenue was going down dramatically, both in movies and in series. So if you made a movie for five million dollars and you got 2 ½ million out of international and now you can only get a million 750, guess what? You’ve got to make fewer movies because every movie’s costing you ¾ of a million dollars more even though you didn’t do anything wrong that day, the marketplace just changed.


OFFSAY: And in fact, as we sit here today, you’re lucky if you can get a million and a quarter for a movie, which will necessitate ramping down the number of movies you do even more because every movie now costs you a half a million. Even if you’re only doing a dozen, that’s six million dollars. Where are you getting that six million from? Hmm, let’s see, the movies are costing about three million a piece, probably just have to do two fewer movies now because they each cost you half a million dollars more. So that will squeeze things more. On the series side it was even more dramatic. Where studios used to put up 600 thousand an episode, 650 and episode, to do shows…

RICHMOND: For an hour?

OFFSAY: For an hour. On The L Word, the show that’s going on right now, MGM’s putting up 250 an hour. Now Showtime owns the domestic rights which are valued at about 100 thousand, but even let’s just say from 650 to 350 is a 300 thousand dollar per episode change.

RICHMOND: That’s about 20 or 25 per cent of the budget you’d find on a network show, a broadcast network show.

OFFSAY: You mean their contribution?

RICHMOND: Yeah, yeah.

OFFSAY: Well, the show, let’s say The L Word costs a million four an episode. In the old days, Showtime would have put up 650, the studio would have put up 650 and they would have gotten a hundred thousand in tax credit. Today Showtime puts up a million one-fifty and the studio puts up two-fifty. That’s a 400 thousand dollars swing in Showtime’s bottom line per episode. There are 15 episodes. That’s six million dollars. Showtime has eight shows on the air. If each one of them costs them 6 million dollars more times eight, that’s 48 million dollars more to make the same number of episodes of series television. Where are you going to get that 48 million dollars from? A large chunk of it came from the movie budget, and when you combine that with the demands to grow at a certain pace, grow your revenues at a certain pace, your programming budget which fortunately has been able to withstand contraction doesn’t necessarily get to grow at the rate that you’d want it to. So if you have a flat budget, let’s say, and your series costs you 50 million dollars more for the same number of episodes, you’ve got to get that 50 million from somewhere. So partly you do fewer episodes of each series, partly you do fewer movies, and then you try and make the numbers all add up together.

RICHMOND: Did you see any appreciable change in the subscriber base with the change in philosophy?

OFFSAY: Well, you know, I don’t think that the change in philosophy would be readily apparent to the consumers until very recently because we had enough stuff in the pipeline to perceptually make it look like there were still at least two new things happening a month, and then there were series launches, so some months you would have a documentary and a movie and a series launching, so it still looked like almost every week there was something new coming, but that will be harder and harder to do as the volume of movies goes down. But they’ve got some new initiatives there and they’re going to be doing more documentaries.

RICHMOND: I’m just going to go back into your past a little bit again, in fact in to your deep, dark childhood. Do you recall being fascinated with television as a kid? What’s your earliest recollection of TV?

OFFSAY: Actually as a kid I was fascinated with movies, and my parents were huge movie goers and they would take us to anything and everything, whether it was age appropriate or not. I remember seeing The Carpetbaggers at eight and being sent out for popcorn during what I now understand would have been the steamy segments of it, but they weren’t going to stay home just because they had two little kids. So my sister and I got dragged out. I had an older brother and sister and they were out of the house by then, but my younger sister and I saw everything and I literally saw one or two movies a week in a theater probably from the time I was six until I went away to college.

RICHMOND: Whether appropriate or not for you.

OFFSAY: Right.

RICHMOND: I recall my parents taking me to see Lord of the Flies when I was about seven and that staying with my for way too long.

OFFSAY: A long time! Oh, yeah. That was a creepy picture. But I saw Midnight Cowboy with my parents.

RICHMOND: Wow. You would have been a teenager then?

OFFSAY: I was 16. That was uncomfortable. I didn’t know what a gay person was when I saw Midnight Cowboy for one thing.

RICHMOND: It was rated X, as I recall.

OFFSAY: Yeah. I didn’t have a clue, and then I’m sitting there next to my 14 year old sister and myself and my parents. It was interesting. But it instilled a love in me for that experience of sitting in the dark for two hours and being totally transported out of your life by the power of film, that there was nothing else that you can do in a public forum that can provide that kind of magic. I’m a huge sports fan and I go to ballgames and whatever. There’s nothing like…

RICHMOND: The communal experience of being in the room with a group of people.

OFFSAY: Yeah, and feeling an audience react to something. The only thing that was better than being part of that is having given the go to something and sitting in that room and feeling the audience with it that way, which I felt the other night at The L Word premiere, most recently. But to be at Sundance with Frank Pierson when Soldier’s Girl played for the first time and watch 1,500 people stand up the second the movie ended up and start applauding, or at Salma Hayek’s movie, Maldonado, where she got the same reaction. We premiered those on the same day last year. That’s one of those three or four days that’s the best days of your career because you know you have moved an audience and you have moved them, in the case of those two movies, in such divergent ways, with the ugliness and the tragedy of the one, and the hopefulness and the believe in God and spirituality of the other, and we made both of those pictures. I’ll say it again, Matt Blank gave me this toy and let me go out and play with it, and he basically left me alone to do it with and some weeks we picked the wrong picture. Nobody bats 1,000. But a lot of weeks we picked the right picture. Every week you got a report card. Every week there were reviews in every city in America. Either we did get the Guide covers or we didn’t get the Guide covers, and then there were the ratings that came in. So you not only had report cards, you had them in different ways. Did it work with the public, did it work with the press, did it work with the cable operators? And all of those different constituencies had to be serviced and try to find the value in what it is that you’re doing. And then there are weeks where I’m sure there were people on the steps saying why did we make that movie? Some of the weeks, they were right.

RICHMOND: I don’t think I know anyone in the history of the entertainment industry that took their projects and the films done on their watch more to heart than you did. You can recite quotes and reaction and buzz and vibe about virtually everything you’ve done. Besides having a photographic memory, I think you wear your heart on your sleeve with regard to your output, and I always thought that was one of your great strengths.

OFFSAY: Well, thank you. That’s sweet of you to say. These aren’t my children, but once we made a film… nobody was forcing us to make any of these things so we made them because we thought they had something to say and they were going to contribute something to the subscribers’ experience and help the network. Once we put the time and the effort into it, we took it really seriously and no one sets out to make a bad film but we set out to make quality films.

RICHMOND: And important stuff, too.

OFFSAY: They were my kids, they were my cubs, and I was the mother lion and I was going to protect them. People are going to disagree with you and they’re not always going to see the merit in what it is you’re trying to do, but you at least want them to give you the credit for trying and understand what the motivation is that’s behind it. And yeah, I took it very personally, every one of them I took personally. I would frequently sit there and read a review where somebody would say, they said it was true but it couldn’t possibly have happened that way and they just changed it for dramatic purposes, and I wish they would have picked up the phone and called me because I never changed anything, never changed anything in 300 pictures in true stories for dramatic purposes. Not one single time. In fact, my people were expressly, absolutely, totally forbidden from doing that and when we found sometimes in a film that there was a mistake and something didn’t happen the way that we were told, we had to wrestle with how do you fix that and how do you pull it out of the movie, or how do you do the least violence to the story and still not misrepresent. What would happen? We did The Day Reagan Was Shot with Oliver Stone, who is known for being somebody who had a point of view and wants everything he does to fit that point of view. He was brilliant to work with, he was collaborative, and he didn’t try and change one of the facts as we knew them, but interestingly because his name was on the film everybody assumed that we had changed the facts of what had happened to try and embarrass the Republicans or be embarrassing to Reagan, or something, and saw stuff that just wasn’t in the movie because his name was there. In the same way that happened when we did the movie about inside the White House on 9/11, and they saw Lionel Chetwynd there, who is a Republican, who is an avowed George Bush supporter, and who was forbidden from putting anything in there that he couldn’t support two or three times, and we had the movie vetted by left, right, and center. But when we went out and said that to the press that we double and triple checked everything that Lionel had to say, including with people of different political persuasions, a lot of the articles came out and said that we got three Republican ideologues to vouch for what Lionel was saying. Well, maybe they should have checked who those people were, or maybe they didn’t want to acknowledge the fact that other people, more liberal minded people like me, and the people that we hired, and my entire staff of to the left of the little red schoolhouse, practically, of programming execs I had all were able to find common ground with the fact that we may not support Bush or his policies, but that for ten days in 2001 he rallied a nation behind him at a critical point and gave one of the great speeches that any of us has ever seen or ever will see. That’s what we chronicled in that 10 day period, and what happened afterwards in Iraq or Afghanistan was totally, completely irrelevant to it except for the fact that you could see the seeds of everything that was going to happen right there in that movie because we laid it all out for you. We showed you the debates that were going on, and the policies that came out of it were self-evident. If you watch the movie, instead of appreciating it for the inside view everyone came after it with an axe to say, oh, this is this Republican ideologue’s point of view and as if it had never been put through a filter. I hired the most liberal director that I could get, which was ignored by them, and they made a lot of that in the Reagan’s mini-series where it was a liberal director and a liberal writer, and they got credit for having nobody to balance it out. Well, we had a bunch of liberal producers and a liberal director, and all anyone would write about was the fact that the writer was a conservative writer who was a friend of the President’s, which is true, he was a friend of the President’s. He still did a brilliant job and gave us a really insightful piece of drama that people refused to watch for the merits of the drama and had made up their minds before they went in. That’s the kind of thing that can make you crazy. It happened in death penalty movies where people would come out and say… There’s one movie that we did called Beyond the Call, Sissy Spacek and David Straitharn, one of the first very good movies that we did that Tony Bill directed, and I remember getting up and reading in our own paper here in Los Angeles from somebody who I’ve gotten a lot of other good notices from that we must have changed… the only thing that was changed there was that we had to change the state that the case took place in, and the names of the people because the woman who’s story it was had given us her permission, but her husband, who she ended up divorcing out of what happened in the movie had not given us permission and could have sued us. So we changed the names and the state and we told the story 100% factually accurate about a guy who ultimately was executed, a damaged Vietnam vet who had post-traumatic stress syndrome and was executed as a murderer because when he tried to kill himself in police custody with handcuffs on they missed the gun in searching him, and he wrestled it out of his pants and he pulled it up and he wanted to blow his own brains out because he was so traumatize by all that was going on, and when the cops saw him in the backseat of the car, he went to wrestle the gun away from him and the gun discharged and hit the roof of the car, it ricocheted down, it struck the policeman, and he died. That’s a tragedy, it’s an accident, it’s not a murder. That guy was executed. And to find five newspaper reporters in responsible papers that would come out and say that obviously no one in those circumstances could have been put to death and that therefore we just wanted to put our liberal agenda against the death penalty out there, and we had manipulated the facts to make the case so compelling that any idiot would see that you can’t do this, it’s just not factually accurate. What happened in that movie is what really happened, and did I take it personally when I read those five reviews? I couldn’t think about anything else for several days and I wrote those people letters. They get to do what they do, and they get paid to do what they do, and I do what I do, but before you go trashing what I do, why don’t you ask the question? Because maybe if you actually were informed you would have written something different.

RICHMOND: I imagine you have a database up here with good reviews on this side of the brain and bad reviews over here.

OFFSAY: Fortunately the good ones outweigh them. I’ve got them in my head. Otherwise I would have been lopsided.

RICHMOND: But you realize how atypical you are in taking this stuff sometimes as personally as you do?

OFFSAY: You know, I don’t get why everybody doesn’t? What are they doing? I was never going through the motions. That’s part of why I said that it was going to be ten and out. It was part of why I knew that you couldn’t keep up this pace forever because it was 85-90 hours a week to read all this stuff, to do all this stuff, but how could you spend months and months of your life working on something and sweating, did we get the financing, did we get the right actor, did we get the right director, and going over the script 27 times, and going through three, four, five cuts of the movie, and going to research screenings with the director, and fine tuning the ending, and sitting in a room with six people with six different points of view on how you end the movie, and you finally get to a place where it’s done and you put it out there, and then somebody just dismisses it and it’s like, all right, on to the next one. That’s not me. I had my blood, sweat, and tears invested in the movie, and I wanted it to get a fair shake. That doesn’t mean that frequently I’d look at something and read the review and they’d say that this didn’t work that well and the music wasn’t that good and the performance was lousy and whatever, and I’d say, you know what? They’re right. And you fold up your tent and you walk away. And occasionally you get something where they’re completely polarized where people will say it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread, there are people who absolutely hate it, like Out of Order, and then you’re completely flummoxed because so many people are seeing what you’re seeing, and then there are other people who are missing it, and frequently those are people who you have great respect for who usually agree with you. When you think something’s good they think it’s good too, and then they didn’t get it this time. How come they didn’t get it? What are they missing here? What am I missing here? But it made the job never dull.

RICHMOND: Were you ever accused of micro-managing, having your hand in every part of the production process?

OFFSAY: You know what? I didn’t have my hand in every part of the production process, in fact I…

RICHMOND: You let your people work.

OFFSAY: Yeah, I mean, you’d have to go ask my staff that question. I had a couple of rules, like after a couple of years of looking at rough cuts where I would say, “Where’s the scene,” this is the photographic memory thing, but “Where’s the scene with the guy down by the river where they have a conversation about he lost the dog and whatever,” and they’d say, “Oh, we needed to cut three pages to make the day or something and so we never shot that scene.” And sitting there and saying, “Well, the movie doesn’t make logical sense without that scene, and that was really critical and why didn’t somebody ask me?” So about five years ago I said, “You can add whatever you want and shoot whatever you want in addition to what’s in the script, but once I’ve signed off on the script you can’t take out more than a paragraph without my say so, and if it requires spending more money because we’re going to go a day over, that’s my job to vote on that. Don’t protect me and say I’m going to save 50 grand, we’re going to finish on schedule with a damaged picture, rather than be $50,000 over with a film that will be much better because it has no logical holes in it.” And so I managed that part of the process, but I only watch the first two or three days of dailies and then I stop because with the volume of pictures we were doing…

RICHMOND: That would be you’d work 24 hours a day.

OFFSAY: It wouldn’t be a good use of my time. And secondly, somebody had to have the big picture view when the movie was done, and the directors watched every foot of the dailies, the producers watched every foot of the dailies, my execs, both the production and creative execs have watched every foot of the dailies, and they’re sick of these scenes by the time it starts getting cut together. I’m the person who knows the script, who’s passionate about getting it made, and who hasn’t seen it and I’m the fresh eyes coming in. And that was very valuable a lot of the time to have somebody who was as invested as all these other people but wasn’t as burned out about the movie as they were, and frequently would re-energize people because they would be unhappy, and it wasn’t that good, and they were seeing all the flaws. In Jasper, Texas, I remember getting from Pearlena, one of my best executives, “Oh, the movie is, I don’t know, I don’t know how we’re going to get it there,” and whatever. The movie was spectacular. The movie was too long. The movie needed stuff to come out of it. Actually when I saw it, it wasn’t too long. When she saw it, it was too long. When I saw it, it was too short. They had taken it from two hours and six minutes down to an hour and 35 minutes. I said, hmmm, where’s the scene with this, where’s the scene with Jon Voight battling the Klan, where’s the scene with that? 15 minutes went back into the movie. Then we had people, both Voight and Gossett, who said, “And I still think we’re missing this one and I think we’re missing that one,” and the movie was actually locked already. Each one of the actors was passionate about a couple of scenes and it was going to cost $15,000 or something to unlock the movie, and I listened to Jon and I listened to Lou and I put back two scenes in the movie because they were right and my execs were wrong. One of the things that I was always doing at the end of the movie is after I’d watched the rough cut, I’d say now I want all the stuff that the director didn’t cut into the movie, frequently the stuff he wanted to take out of the script that we didn’t want him to take out of the script, and now he gets to do the rough cut, and guess what? All of the sudden it’s gone! Remember the scene that so-and-so didn’t like? Where is that scene? I knew that scene wasn’t going to be in the rough cut and now I have to see it. Frequently I made them put that scene back in. But I think that by and large our filmmakers felt that they were pretty supported. The fact is they came back and they worked for us again and again. Frank Pierson doesn’t have to do three movies at Showtime. He can do whatever he wants, but he did, including doing his first pilot as I was walking out the door. He agreed to do that. And Earnest Dickerson doesn’t have to do four movies with me, but he did. And Roger Spotswood doesn’t have to do three movies with me but he did. So the experience must have been good for them and it must have been good for the actors because they kept coming back also. The combination of a good experience and good material brought people back.

RICHMOND: Was there every a situation where you really had to go to the mat to push forward maybe something that was especially controversial because you were getting resistance from your superiors?

OFFSAY: You know, I think that… I would say that everything that was controversial required a well marshaled defense or argument. You don’t go put the channel and company at risk with Strange Justice or Bastard Out of Carolina or…. When we picked up Tales of the City it had already been a multi-Emmy nominated mini-series for PBS and practically an Act of Congress of issued to get it off PBS’s airwaves. They were going to cut off the funding for Public Broadcasting if they keep putting this homo-friendly programming on the air. So we were able to go and do that. You can’t just blithely go in there with powerful Congressmen saying this shouldn’t be on the airwaves, and they weren’t just saying it shouldn’t be on the public’s airwaves, they were saying it shouldn’t be on the airwaves…

RICHMOND: Anywhere.

OFFSAY: … without going in and talking to your boss and saying here’s why I think this is going to make sense for us, and to Matt’s credit he was receptive, he listened, and there was a year where he won the award for People for the American Way and I won the award for the American Civil Liberty’s Union, and he deserved his award more even than I deserved mine because his job wasn’t necessarily to stick our neck out, it was to navigate the waters but he let me stick the company’s neck out and it worked every time. But were there moments there where I thought that Queer As Folk would never make it on the air? There were moments I thought I’d never actually get it to the airwaves. I think that… harder with the stuff that we created internally that didn’t have that patina of class and pedigree. Once you say we’re going to do Lolita…

RICHMOND: It’s a classic.

OFFSAY: Or The Believer after it’s won the prize at Sundance, Bastard Out Of Carolina because it’s based on such a big selling book there are protections that you feel that you have that if you’re creating something out of whole cloth like Queer As Folk…

RICHMOND: Although Queer As Folk had the European pedigree.

OFFSAY: That’s right, and that helped us enormously including the ability to call it Queer As Folk because they had called it Queer As Folk, which was a much, much, much debated…

RICHMOND: Whether you wanted to put “queer” in the title of a show.

OFFSAY: Yeah, whether you could put queer in, whether we were being insulting, whether or not people would get it, whether we were rubbing it too much in other people’s faces. So every one of these things gets the consideration that you would expect, that groups of eight and ten and twelve people sit in a room and let everybody… an Matt was good that way. He’d say, “I don’t want to hear anybody in the hallway say we shouldn’t have done that or we’re screwing things up with the cable operators, whatever. Here’s a room, here’s your chance, here’s what Jerry wants to do. Let’s hear everybody’s opinion. We’ll kick it around.” And if the decision wasn’t made in that room, sometimes the decision had already been made, but you were giving people a chance to vent. Some of the times it was announced in the room and some of the times he and I and one or two others went off and caucused and then told everybody what we were going to do. But on the big issues, on these big, important subject matters there was no project that he did not ultimately back.

RICHMOND: When you took the flack for making Dirty Pictures, I remember you were quoted at the time as saying, “It’s not our job to make people feel comfortable, it’s our job to do what we think is right and to protect freedom of expression.” Do you fear that too few of your contemporaries feel that way?

OFFSAY: You know what? I think few of my contemporaries feel that way, but few of them had the license to feel that way in their jobs that I did in my job because if something didn’t get a good rating one week and you’re on CBS it costs you money because you have to give money back to your advertisers. If it doesn’t get a good rating on Showtime, it’s disappointing, and as I said earlier, I wasn’t there to make home movies but it didn’t cost us out of pocket money to an advertiser so I could take chances and risks and push the envelope.

RICHMOND: So which of Showtime’s series and movies would you say that you’re the proudest of, or is it impossible to choose among your children?

OFFSAY: Yeah, I think that…

RICHMOND: I bet you could remember the name of each and every one here if we gave you five minutes.

OFFSAY: Probably. You know, the great moments are winning the Governor’s Award and going up on the stage to get that, which came for the three shows – Soul Food, Resurrection, and Queer as Folk. I think if you look at what Showtime’s greatest contribution to society in the ten years it would be those three shows because they – we talked about this earlier – they did allow people who had never seen themselves portrayed on TV in an even-handed dramatic fashion to have that reflection of their experience and to the extent that that shapes how people see the world and how kids will see the world, then those shows, I think, have a social importance, probably, that nothing else did. I think that probably with all the people and things that we took on, I think Thanks of a Grateful Nation where we went dead against the Pentagon and said you’re lying about what’s wrong with these Gulf War veterans, we don’t know why but we know you are, and here’s three true stories of three people and how they intertwined along with the Congressional aide that was out there trying to change things for them, which they took seriously enough to have Colin Powell come out on the day before the movie aired and state that there was no such thing as Gulf War Syndrome and six months later they passed a 550 million dollar allocation through Congress for Gulf War Syndrome.

RICHMOND: For the thing that didn’t exist.

OFFSAY: Which they were still striving to… and we dramatized in the movie that they couldn’t get 50 million dollars through then, but I know that that movie moved people in Congress and had an impact there. I think Strange Justice, being the reformed lawyer that I am, has a special place in my heart, and as I struggle now to get somebody to make Strange Election, which is the story of what happened behind the scenes….

RICHMOND: Which is crying to be made.

OFFSAY: Yeah, well, if we don’t make it soon it won’t be relevant anymore, but if you can put on the story of the 2000 election in the fall when the ’04 election is happening, I think people would be interested to see what went on behind the scenes even though they suspect they now.

RICHMOND: Do you have a script for that already?


RICHMOND: But are you having trouble finding a producer?

OFFSAY: Yeah, at the moment we are. My guess is at the end of the day I won’t get it done, but we’ll give it one more shot. So Strange Justice has a special place in my heart. And then I think that the all ages pictures as a group, as a collection, which I did with my partner Ann Foley, the most gracious and brilliant person and collaborative colleague that I’ve ever had… there was a run of time where over a four year period we had 19 of the 20 pictures nominated for the Emmy as best family film, and we had articles written in The New York Times and Newsday saying what do these people at Showtime think they’re doing? Don’t they know that parents and kids don’t watch TV together, and is this some sort of social experiment where you’re going to try and force mothers and their kids to watch movies together? The fact of the matter is that we thought that these movies might just be that kind of thing that could cross over that way. We didn’t do them for that reason, we just thought we were doing another flavor of quality programming and that it would help our business to be able to say, you know what, it’s not Nickelodeon, it’s not the Disney Channel, it’s not the Family Channel that has the best family entertainment in America. It’s that no limits network, Showtime, that gives you Queer As Folk and whatever. Guess what? We also have the best family films in America, and it wasn’t us saying it after awhile. It was the Emmy voters saying it, and they were saying it in spades, that it was every movie that was an Emmy nominee in that group, and the tough part of that thing was having to close that group down after those 19 out of 20 Emmy nominations that at that time had only won five years in a row.

RICHMOND: You had to close it down for funding reasons?

OFFSAY: We were doing fewer movies and it was harder to justify having a slate that was separately family-oriented and smaller volume, and we had to repurpose the money to series, all of which were right things, which prompted somebody in the group to say to me at the time, “What would the reward have been if we’d done a bad job,” as they were being show the exit from the premises. So the triumph of that group, and especially the crazy way that they do it because it’s part of the daytime Emmys and so you’re there with all these crazy soap opera people and then there’s this moment of quiet and sanity where they’re giving out the awards for these family films. But the satisfaction of doing, again, something that nobody else was doing, doing it really, really well, and that notion of going back to those early days which is you’re not going to get them done, if you do do them they aren’t going to be any good. You know what? We put the lie to that, and so those as a group, I think, hold a big place in my heart as well.

RICHMOND: Growing up as a cinema hound like you did, it’s interesting to see just how much more important cinema and filmmaking you did at Showtime than has been made in the feature film and theatrical film world. They get of course all of the glory and the Oscar nominations, but I can’t name five that have been truly important films during your tenure at Showtime, whereas you probably have 50 or 60.

OFFSAY: Yeah, well, I guess it’s a question of definition, but again, I had the luxury of being in a different business. At the end of the day, quality is mainly what counted in what we were doing. We were doing these things for the image of the network. We were selling you a subscription and it had to look and feel special, and feel wonderful and feel worthwhile, and feel like my God, we’re giving up something if we don’t have this, or I’m missing something if I don’t have it, and so that having everybody who wrote about these things say “this is wonderful” enhance that perception. So I was able to go after something whereas the people who were making theatrical movies have to put asses in chairs. That’s the only thing that matters at the end of the day. Now we made Gods and Monsters. If you look at the box office…

RICHMOND: Which was nominated for an Oscar.

OFFSAY: Yeah, it was nominated for a couple of Oscars – McKellan and Redgrave – and it won for the script. If you look at that from its box office, it’s a failure. If it had premiered on Showtime… it did get three Oscar nominations so it’s a success on that level, but it only did 5 ½ million at the box office. If I had premiered that movie on Showtime it would have been my biggest hit of the year, but we allowed it to go theatrically. Again, it’s not that I’m not proud of the 50 or 60 or whatever number of important films we did, and my number would probably be higher than anybody else’s because they’re all important to me, but there’s a lot of social commentary, a lot of weighty subject matter, a lot of important issues that we dealt with, but I had a license to do that that nobody else did and it couldn’t come back and hurt me because if the rating was no good it didn’t cost us money and the other people had to either get a number for an audience on the broadcast networks when they had to get asses in chairs at the studios, and then there was us and HBO who could just make movies because, you know what? We thought, boy, that’s a good script, that’s a good story, that would be interesting, people would like to write about that and maybe it will spark some conversation. So we were in a different business and the luxury of that different business is just something that you can’t compare to what anybody else has.

RICHMOND: You had to feel like you had the best job in Hollywood.

OFFSAY: I did have the best job in Hollywood. Maybe the second best job because the guy at HBO gets to do the same thing I did and he had an unlimited budget to do stuff with and unlimited advertising money. So I’d be lying if I didn’t say that their job wasn’t better than mine because I spent a lot of my time chasing around after money, and a lot of time….

RICHMOND: Was that the biggest challenge of the job, trying to shoehorn this budget into that?

OFFSAY: Yeah, we did a lot of that.

RICHMOND: Doing a lot of the juggling.

OFFSAY: We did a lot of juggling, we did a lot of things where we said to people if you can’t get the budget down from 6.4 to 5.5 we’re not making the money, and then we did a lot of my production people saying, well, you know what, you can do a quality job at 5.7 but I can’t get it down to 5.5, and then I have to decide am I coming up with the extra 200 grand if they can find the 700, and a lot of time in those meetings, and then a lot of time looking for how I was going to finance the 5.7 million dollars. The other guy just says I want to make that movie and he goes and he makes that movie. But for the variety of subject matter that I got to touch, for the freedom that Matt Blank gave me to do it, for the range of issues that we could do, nobody else was able to do that. You can go from those family movies to Queer As Folk to Dirty Pictures to take on the Pentagon to take on Clarence Thomas to save Lolita, to work with Allison Anders on Things Behind the Sun, and then go back to the wacky world of Chris Isaak and Stargate and even Dead Like Me. I think The L Word is my latest legacy of a hit that I’ve left behind, but I left a week after Dead Like Me premiered and we knew that we had a hit on our hands.

RICHMOND: Could you have made it easier on yourself by not tackling some of as controversial material as you did? I mean it seemed like you were…

OFFSAY: Well, I could have made it easier on myself if I’d given up the volume on the movies earlier on because at some point in time it wasn’t just that we needed to make the numbers and everything cost more, it was that the rest of the company felt that the volume strategy had outlived its usefulness and they wanted to be more like the other guys and have one thing a month to talk about, and put more emphasis on one. Frankly I fought that battle down to the end because I still don’t think that’s the way people watch TV and I don’t think it’s the right strategy for Showtime, especially if you didn’t have the money to promote the stuff into events. If you did, then that’s a different story, but if you’re still going to have relatively modest advertising budgets for each picture you put on and you only put one on a month, then you’re betting a lot of the farm on each one of those movies without having… it’s never going to look or feel like what the other guy’s doing because he’s going to have so much more behind it than you are. So now you’re playing his game. That was part of what we did, we knew that they were way, way, way ahead of us, so at no point in time did I want to play their game. I want to play my game, by my rules, and if I set up to do volume and they’re doing one a month, then we’re doing two completely… and they want to spend 20 million dollars to do 61 or 25 million dollars to do 61, and I spend 2.8 to do The Baby Dance and they’re both nominated for the Emmy…

RICHMOND: Did they spend 25 million on 61?

OFFSAY: Those are the reports. Maybe it was 18, maybe it was 22, maybe it was 28, you know? But I never spent more than… I made one movie that cost more than 6 ½ million dollars.

RICHMOND: Out of all 300+.

OFFSAY: Yeah, and that movie we only were able to spend more money on because I went and got a deal with NBC in advance from Don Ohlmeyer to say he would buy the movie when it was done and give us 2 million dollars, and so that movie got expanded to close to 8 million because there was…

RICHMOND: Which was?

OFFSAY: Inherit the Wind.

RICHMOND: Inherit the Wind.

OFFSAY: Again, you think about the things that are great thrills, but the only two times Jack Lemmon and George C. Scott worked together they worked in movies for us.

RICHMOND: 12 Angry Men.

OFFSAY: 12 Angry Men and Inherit the Wind. We did very well from ripping off the Stanley Kramer playbook and we made several of his pieces, but I remember taking my kids to be on the set at the end of Inherit the Wind and watching George C. Scott get up to give a speech and being there with Jack Lemmon and George C. Scott. If you’re a movie person that’s a thrill. That’s a thrill that’s going to last you a lifetime. And then watching them both get nominated for awards in each of the pictures, which was no great surprise, but sometimes you take a chance because when you touch a classic you’re taking a chance. This afternoon they’re presenting Patrick Stewart and Glenn Close in my last remake chance where I remade Lion in Winter, which is a multiple Oscar…

RICHMOND: The Kate Hepburn movie.

OFFSAY: … winning film. People would say to me, and I remember this question with 12 Angry Men, “Why would you remake 12 Angry Men? What a classic, Jerry.” And I’d sit there and I’d say, “Jack Lemmon, George C. Scott, Hume Cronyn, Ossie Davis, Armin Mueller-Stahl – how many Oscar nominees would you like me to get to because I can keep going before you’re going to say that’s enough. Those are enough good reasons. But the answer is – Eddie James Olmos – they were all in that room. Courtney Vance, Tony Soprano – who was the only person who wasn’t really a well-known guy.

RICHMOND: Gandolfini wasn’t known then.

OFFSAY: Gandolfini wasn’t known then, but that movie… Bill Peterson is in that movie, Tony Danza. Bill Peterson and Gandolfini are now way bigger than they were when they made it. They were the also-rans. They were the guys that were lucky to fill out the ensemble for the rest of these people. What a thrill to be able to just pick up the phone and call Beau Bridges and say to him, “You know, Dan Petrie is directing George C. Scott and Jack Lemmon in Inherit the Wind and I want you to play the Gene Kelly role.” He says, “I’m in!” I said, “Well, don’t you want me to send you the script?” “I’m in Jerry! Dan Petrie, George C. Scott, Jack Lemmon, Inherit the Wind – I’m in.”

RICHMOND: Well, but you had that kind of relationship with these guys.

OFFSAY: Well, I had done six or seven things with Beau beforehand, and the truth be told the fifth thing he said was “and you, Jerry.” But Beau came to my 50th birthday party three weeks ago as well. But you know, just think of if you’re somebody who likes film being able to make that call to Beau Bridges and say to him, “And by the way, I need you to work for $150,000 less than I paid you the last picture that you did.” He said, “That’s a lot more money than you paid Jack and George and all those guys on 12 Angry Men.” Well, the truth is that on that picture everybody worked for 100 grand because there were 12 of them. On this picture we were able to pay everybody like 350, or something like that.

RICHMOND: So it was 12 penniless men.

OFFSAY: Yeah. Hume Cronyn, I remember, who did six movies with me as well, and the last one of which is still in the pipeline, Separate Peace, where he did what he told me he would never do, which is he said, “I don’t do cameos, Jerry,” but he did a cameo in Separate Peace because he said, “I’m 90. Nobody asks me that much to do anything.” We had said at one point in time that we were going to do seven movies together and I reminded him he still owed me two. Hume Cronyn cornering me on the set of 12 Angry Men and saying, “Now you’re sure, Jerry, Jack and George are getting $100,000 a piece? Everybody’s working for $100,000. I’m not getting jobbed here, am I?” I said, “Hume, if I was going to job somebody it would be the people that I didn’t have a good relationship with. I’d be paying you the extra money and cheating the other guys.” He said, “All right, I’ll take your word for it.” There’s a lot of great stuff that comes out of that. Of course then you get to the jokes that came around that said we were the death knell for these people because George C. Scott did his last picture for us, Raoul Julia did his last picture for us, Hume did his last picture for us, C.G. Marshall came back and did The Defenders, was the last thing that he did for us, and I think that…

RICHMOND: So are you poisoning people?

OFFSAY: Yeah, what were we putting in the water on the set? But maybe it was just that we were the only people who would work with people that were that age and still thought they were important and thought that drama with people that age…

RICHMOND: I think that’s exactly it is that you continued to realize what a great resource they were and they weren’t just washed up.

OFFSAY: It was an enormous, enormous privilege. It was.

RICHMOND: Do you fear with economics the way they are that it’s going to be tougher and tougher to get casts like that together for projects on cable? Are the economics becoming impossible?

OFFSAY: If you only do four or six pictures a year, which is what Showtime’s likely to do than you can harbor your resources to try to make each one of them bigger and more special, and I think that’s what Bob’s strategy is going to be, to try to make them pop.

RICHMOND: So it’s going to take 50 years to equal what you did in nine.

OFFSAY: You know, I haven’t asked anybody to go and check the statistics, but certainly in the last little while nobody got to say yes as many times as I did to long form, and that comes back around to something that sounds trite and is boring, but it was a lucky spot to be in and it was a privilege.

RICHMOND: Is that what you feel like your legacy is for cable, for the industry, is that you sort of managed to…

OFFSAY: You know, I think that I’d like my legacy, which is presumptuous and arrogant…

RICHMOND: It’s my word.

OFFSAY: I would like people to say, you know, that he did really good work and was not afraid to go where other people would be afraid to go, and that he left the place better off than when he got there. Especially as you sit here having left the job and six months out of it now, there’ll be all sorts of things that I did wrong that I never knew, but I’m sure I’ll hear about as revisionist history is written, but the fact of the matter is, you know, the transition has been handled incredibly classily and when the Golden Globe nominations came out, Bob Greenblatt’s memo to everybody said I want to thank and congratulate Jerry Offsay and the staff of people who worked on these movies, which was incredibly gracious and the right way to do something. And so I think I’d like to get the credit for what I deserve credit for, and not get blamed for stuff that wasn’t my fault, but that’s not the way Hollywood is and I’ll get some credit for stuff I didn’t do and I’ll get some blame for some stuff I didn’t do. At the end of the day, I think I walked out of there… what I said in March when I said I was leaving is that I thought that the shape of the network was never in better shape than it was, and that I had consistently the best lineup of programming that was going to come. I had just put Family Business on the air, which was a hit. I had just put Penn & Teller on the air, which was a hit. Both of which have been… well, I renewed Family Business.

RICHMOND: Penn & Teller Bullshit?

OFFSAY: Yeah. My successor renewed that show. I was just about to put Dead Like Me on. My successor renewed that show. We had Out of the Ashes and Roman Spring and Soldier’s Girl, Jasper, and Salma Hayek’s movie all sitting there in the pipeline. That’s as good an array of films as we’d ever done. We had The L Word in the wings. We had great pilots that were ready to go; Huff, which my successor has ordered, and Spike Lee’s show, which he’s ordered additional episodes of, at least to turn into a mini-series. That’s two out of three of my pilots that he’s decided to go forward with. I think that we’ve gotten a very good shake out of things, and that Bob has been incredibly classy and supportive of the efforts and has given credit to me frequently where it was my work that was now coming to the fore, and so I think all things being equal I think I’ll survive this transition very nicely since I have no ambitions to go and do anything else it won’t matter much anyway.

RICHMOND: You are semi-retired.

OFFSAY: I am semi-retired. I have a little production company that Viacom pays for with a couple of development execs for the next couple of years. I exec produced a slate of movies for Showtime on my way out the door, these little million dollar shot on video movies, three of which we’re taking to the Sundance Festival next week, one of which has already been bought by Sony Classics – Mario Van Peebles story of his father making Sweet Sweetback’s Badass Song back in 1971 and its cultural significance, but it’s the zany adventure of making that movie. And I’ve got a few more of those pictures that will go to other festivals after Sundance and hopefully some other of them will be bought. I’m going to make Maya Angelou’s next movie at Lifetime with her directing. She made her directing debut for me. Again, another one of those little pleasures. Maya Angelou comes and directs a picture for you, which we also sold as a theatrical and didn’t get to premier on the air. So this time we’ll make to for Lifetime and we’ll see what else we can get done.

RICHMOND: Thanks Jerry Offsay for doing this for The Cable Center. I’m Ray Richmond and thanks very much.

OFFSAY: Thank you, Ray. Thanks for doing this. Thank all you guys.

Skip to content