Politics, Crisis, and Coming Home Again
People often ask me how I got started on TV, and how I went about developing close relationships with major selling channels like HSN and QVC.
I've told you lots of stories already about my business origins. You know the tale of Bud Paxson and how, along with Phyllis Diller, he helped me become the first celebrity to sell product on a TV shopping channel. Since I hear this question so often, however, I thought I'd add a short PS chapter and answer it in a little greater depth.
When I first began with the Home Shopping Network, nobody at the channel seemed to quite know their position or place. Things were constantly up in the air, always in the process of morphing into something else. One day early on one of the execs from the network cornered me. Management, he announced in hushed tones, had made a command decision. I was not to hang out with any of the other show hosts on the channel.
This seemed like an odd request. What was behind it?
As it turned out, management was a jealous mistress. It didn't want other show hosts on the channel, many of whom were incredibly talented, to know that I was being groomed as a celebrity host to sell my own line of products. If they did they might say to themselves, "Hmmm! If Tony Little can do that, why can't I?" Mutiny and chaos would presumably follow.
In the early days, too, Roy Spears, the other brilliant half of HSN (along with Bud Paxson), helped me settle ...