John Weiser is one executive to watch this year as he settles in to one of the biggest jobs in syndication—president of distribution for Sony Pictures Television.
Weiser, 42, was named to that newly created post in August 2004, adding strategy, development and cable sales responsibilities to the plate of an executive vice president who had essentially been Sony’s top syndicated-sales guy.
In his new position, he has been busy getting new products ready for NATPE—including a first-run talker with Howard Stern sidekick Robin Quivers—and negotiating deals for content such as hidden-camera show Girls Behaving Badly.
He is poised to add plenty more to his library, such as some 4,000 films that Sony will get when its planned acquisition of MGM closes later this year. To put that into context, Sony will inherit enough movies for a television station to run one per day for more than a decade without a single repeat.
That’s on top of Sony’s 400 television series and 5,000 films—the largest catalog of its kind.
“We’ve managed to reinvent creating our own pipeline,” says Weiser, who reports to Sony Pictures Television President Steve Mosko.
Weiser just formed a partnership to sell 70 episodes of Girls Behaving Badly for domestic syndication. He says he is planning to sign another substantial comedy, though he wasn’t ready to disclose the name.
“It’s definitely a diamond in the rough. It represents tremendous value and a very deep episode library,” he says. “I think people will be wishing they had thought of it first.”
He has also got access to recent titles in Sony’s robust library, including some first-run cable shows that have helped their networks establish their own brand identity.
They include FX’s The Shield and Rescue Me, TBS’ Ripley’s Believe It or Not and Lifetime’s Strong Medicine.
When he arrives in Las Vegas later this month, he’ll be wearing two hats—one as a Sony executive and a second as NATPE co-chairman.
He says he is excited about the show, but when he talks about NATPE, his two favorite words are “Robin” and “Quivers.”
“We feel that we have someone that people relate to who has the chops to do a show with a major studio on a Monday through Friday basis,” says Weiser, referring to Quivers’ more than two decades of broadcast experience.
At NATPE, Weiser and his team will have a sales tape ready to show clients. The format is still flexible, leaving room for Sony to cater to requests from the major station group that buys the show.
But Weiser says one thing is certain: The one-hour multi-topic talker won’t be anything like The Howard Stern Show. To underline just how different Quivers’ show will be from her current gig, he points out that Stern and Quivers aren’t even in the same studio while they’re on the air; they sit in two rooms separated by a glass wall.
The Quivers project isn’t the only new show that Sony hopes to sell at NATPE. But as of the end of 2004, Weiser was mum on details.
Whatever Weiser and his crew turn out, he says they want the products to be innovative enough to stand out from the clutter.
“The approach we take to the marketplace is always fresh,” Weiser says. “We are not only open to change—we embrace it.”