Showbiz Tonight  CNN Headline News

Aired June 30, 2005 - 19:00   ET

BRYANT: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I'm Karyn Bryant.

Well, you got your news TV, your Food TV, and your MTV, and just a short time from now, you are going to have more gay TV, and that is the topic of tonight`s "Showbiz In-depth."

Tonight, MTV Networks launches Logo. It is the first advertiser- supported cable network targeting the gay community. The network is tapping into an estimated potential 15 to 17 million gay viewers. And this year, "Ad Age" magazine says gay Americans have the spending power of more than $600 billion.

So this is very big business indeed. Joining us live from Hollywood to talk about gay TV is Chad Allen. He is the star of "Third Man Out." It`s a TV series airing on subscriber-based Here TV. We also have CEO and founder of Here TV Paul Colichman. And Christopher Lisotta of "TV Week."

We should mentioned that we invited Logo TV to participate with us tonight, but they have declined.

Now, Christopher, I want to start with you. Why is the climate right for a gay TV network?

CHRISTOPHER LISOTTA, HOLLYWOOD, CALIF.: I think there`s a couple reasons why it`s right. I think part of it is there`s availability, in terms of cable. Viacom, which owns Logo, made space on their tier of digital networks to put it out there.

I think, in terms of culture, "Will and Grace," "Queer Eye," all of these shows have laid the groundwork, "Queer as Folk," on all these other networks. It`s something that Viacom has been talking about, in terms of Logo, for a long time. And they felt that now was the time to sort of put it together.

I think there is a critical mass, in terms of audience acceptance, as well as a growing gay and lesbian advertising market, in terms of, you know, the kind of people who are out there who would be interested in this kind of programming. And then, I think, for "Queer Eye," as an example, people feel that there would be a crossover, there will be enough people. Just like men watch Lifetime, straight people could definitely watch Logo and Here.

BRYANT: OK now, Paul, I want to address you on this one. How is Logo going to be different from your channel, Here TV, or even QTV?

PAUL COLICHMAN, CEO, HERE!TV: Well, Logo`s an advertiser-supported network. We`re a pay service. We`re a gay HBO, for lack of a better term. And Logo is going to choose programming that`s appropriate for a basic cable audience.

And I think they`re going to do a really spectacular job at it. Those folks are pros, and they`re doing a classy service, nothing that`s going to upset anyone. It`ll be a great addition to a basic cable lineup.

BRYANT: Would you say, then, it`s fair to say that Logo is a channel that maybe would be preaching to the unconverted, whereas your channel here is already preaching to the converted?

COLICHMAN: That`s certainly a way to look at it. Certainly, as a basic cable channel, they have responsibilities different than I do as a pay cable channel. They need to make sure that the wider audience is, a, not upset by the channel, and more importantly they have this wonderful opportunity to increase the visibility and the respect of the gay community.

So I think it`s a marvelous opportunity. We`re thrilled and delighted, and I congratulate them.

BRYANT: Great.

And Chad, you`ve got a show. And you have worked with the different networks. When you`re thinking of ideas for shows, do you want to target a very specific audience, or do you want to do something like "Will and Grace" has done and reach for a broader audience?

CHAD ALLEN, HOLLYWOOD, CALIF.: You know what? At the end of the day, I`m a storyteller, and I hope to be a good storyteller. And I think good stories appeal to everybody.

The fact of the matter is, I'm also an openly gay actor. I've been openly gay for ten years now, something like that. And we've been waiting for a long time for this opportunity.

When I came out, they told me, "You're probably never going to work again. Get used to it," you know?


ALLEN: Now I`m working with three different all-gay networks talking about creating stories where we get to show our heroes in our life. I'm so excited about it. It's a great opportunity, not just for us, but everybody. Showtime, with their "Queer of Folk," found that 40-something housewives were watching it more than gay men, so...

BRYANT: Right. So certainly, they've had success with "Queer as Folk" and with "The L Word." But I'm curious, though, is there really that much of a difference if you're watching, let's say, a detective show? How is that going to be different if the detective happens to be gay?

ALLEN: I don't know. We're going to find out. I think one of the fantastic things that Paul has decided to do with his network is really sort of dedicate it to telling great stories.

You know, for once we're going to get to tell those classic genres, adventure stories, detective stories, you know, jump in. It's just going to be fantastic, and those characters happen to be gay. You know, I'm so excited. The show that we're doing, "Third Man Out," I just watched it again last night. It's a fantastic show. I actually think my dad's going to enjoy watching the show.

COLICHMAN: And yet the images are authentically gay and lesbian. We don't shy away from intimacy. We don't shy away from relationships. All of our gay and lesbian characters are fully fleshed out, living active, engaged lives. It's very exciting.

BRYANT: Now, Christopher, speaking of that, if some of these shows do tend to sort of push the envelope, what kind of reaction has the advertising community had to the idea of Logo?

LISOTTA: Well, obviously, for Here TV, it'll be less of an issue. The real issue is going to be with Logo. They launched a very low-key campaign. I don't think it's a surprise that they didn't come on the air.

I think their focus is going to be focusing on the gay community, particularly like running ads in gay papers, on gay Web sites, and getting an audience, building it up that way, and then slowly rolling out to a broader audience.

They have been very specific about saying that the programming will be very advertiser-friendly. And I don't think that's going to be a problem. I thinks some people are wondering, well, is that going to mean watered- down, you know, content?

But if you look at something like "Queer Eye," there's a perfect example of a show that definitely has a point of view, that definitely has been edge, but has been able to not only keep advertisers but attract new ones, and actually high premium ones. If you look at sort of the way, you know, it looks at redoing your life, redoing your home. I mean, that's a natural place for advertisers to go. And my guess is that people at Logo will be doing the same thing. I mean, these are very smart people doing a very smart network.

BRYANT: OK, well, thank you very much. Guys, I'm sorry, we have got to wrap it up. But the channel starts in just a little while. So I want to thank you now, and people can check it out for themselves. Chad Allen, Paul Colichman, and Christopher Lisotta, thank you. And Logo TV, by MTV, launches tonight on select cable carriers across the country.

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