Nobody Knows Anything…Including Me!

by Norman Horowitz

There are a few lines that I wish I had “created,” but none more so than William Goldman’s famous motto: “Nobody knows anything.”

In the process of selling TV content, I used to throw management into a tizzy when, asked if a particular program would succeed, I’d reply, “I don’t have a clue.” I expect that they never understood that, when I put millions of their dollars at risk, I couldn’t guarantee that the company would get their money back, never mind show a profit. All I could ever say was that I “sold at wholesale,” which translated from the ancient Hebraic meant that the broadcasters might buy said content or they might now. It was (and still is) the responsibility of the broadcaster to determine how many of their viewers would tune in to watch a particular program.

A brief example: When I acquired the distribution rights to Barney Miller, several of the studio intelligentsia claimed that Hal Lyndon couldn’t carry a comedy half-hour. It wasn’t that I was right about the program but rather that “the fates” were kind to me. The show grossed a couple hundred million dollars or more for Columbia.

So I found it amusing that, when a high-ranking show executive was asked about the new Anderson Cooper Show, he replied, “Think Donahue.”   Continue reading “Nobody Knows Anything…Including Me!”