Here is a Thanksgiving tale from 20 years ago.
You may remember that during my years at NBC in the 1990s (the Must-See TV era), one of my favorite tasks was to schedule the long-forms, i.e. made-for-TV movies, theatricals and miniseries. I worked closely with Lindy DeKoven on the original movies. John Agoglia, our head of business affairs, and I would by the theatricals.
Early in my scheduling career, John and I acquired several runs of “Home Alone,” and I scheduled the first run on Thanksgiving. It exceeded our ratings expectations and was also a big hit with our sales department. I started scheduling movies on Thanksgiving night and decided, with the gleeful consent of sales, to extend it to the entire Thanksgiving weekend. We had the Thanksgiving Day Parade Thursday morning, which was the ideal platform to promote this “event” to the entire family.
This isn’t a tale about scheduling movies, though — it’s about having fun in television and showmanship. So, in 1997 we were again putting together a Thanksgiving weekend of movies. My pal Vince Manze, who ran our marketing group along with John Miller, were noodling how to make that year’s weekend feel special.
“Hey,” I said, “what if the children of the NBC executives took over the network and scheduled movies on Thanksgiving weekend?”
I pitched Vince having my kids and Warren Littlefield’s children holding us hostage until we agreed to air the movies. To his credit, Vince thought a lot bigger and suggested we make it into a party for all the children of NBC employees and have them take over the building. So, we turned it into a holiday party for NBC kids and a promo shoot.
It was a huge success and resulted in a kick-ass promo, which you can see at the top of the post. One problem: We had just spent a fortune renovating the executive conference room. That’s where we shot a lot of the promo. By the time we were done, we realized we were in big trouble as the conference room table was scuffed up and the new chairs were not so new anymore.
Fortunately, we were able, with the help of maintenance, to get the room presentable by Monday morning and we never mentioned that to our boss, Don Ohlmeyer.
I will also post the promo on my @maskedscheduler feed on Twitter. I fondly remember that weekend because it reminded me of the importance of showmanship in everything we did. If you showed the viewer how excited you were about your product and how much fun you were having, they were more likely to join in.
Enjoy Thanksgiving, Masketeers.