Josh Rosenzweig, senior vice president of original programming and development at Here TV, started out as a filmmaker and director in California before making the transition to the corporate side of the business. His path to Here from there took him to Harvey Keitel’s production company and then a stint in PR Marketing and Showtime. Here Media, of which Here TV is a part, is a media conglomerate serving the GLBT consumer and spans television, film, print and online. The company owns The Advocate and Out magazines, still available in print format, as well as a range of social media and web sites and an impressive film library. In my interview with him, Josh talks about Here’s mission, programming, multiplatform efforts, its audience skew, competitive set (spoiler alert: there isn’t any) and the celebration of its tenth anniversary.
Below is an excerpt from the interview. Complete videos can be viewed here.
CW: Twenty years ago, the gay community was not as integrated into mainstream media as it is today. Now many programs feature gay characters and integrate gay issues in their plotlines. Now that GLBT characters appear in mainstream media, is there still a need for a gay-specific media company ?
JR: What used to be so relegated to one population is now much larger, [a trend] that we have watched in the last eight or nine years at Here TV. Our audience, our accessibility and who is identifying as LGBT has changed dramatically. And so the external view from the rest of the world of what LGBT is , where it is, and where it fits comfortably into the schematic of not just entertainment but also world politics and the social aspects of it, has changed dramatically.
I think we are in an exciting moment for LGBT content creation because we are on that cusp – with what is happening politically in our country as well as looking globally. There is still a lot of work to be done. I think it is amazing how much mainstream content includes LGBT characters now or references to LGBT subject matter, but it still isn’t a full representation of who the full population really is. We still have a lot of work to do, especially now. We are not one monolithic group. We are a diverse segment of the population. We can’t tell every story but we can tell many, many stories that still aren’t being told.
CW: How do you decide on the network’s programming?
JR: That is a good question. Paul Colichman , who is our CEO, has been creating content -- hundreds of movies and television shows -- for a number of years, and we work very closely together. We look at the diversity within our audience and try and plan a very wide range of shows and content. So we look at it on a very broad base: There’s politics and talk on one end, and there’s comedy, music, variety, drag, on the other. And then we fill in everything in between.
CW: What is the New Frontiers Film Project?
JR: 2013 is our 10th Anniversary of Here TV, and we are taking a page from Disney. We are going to be celebrating all year long, and our first kick off initiative of the anniversary celebration is the New Frontiers Film Project, where we are going back to one of our core missions to create a space for LGBT filmmakers. What we are looking for is filmmakers who did not get a distribution deal and have no outlet for their material. We ask those who may have run the festival circuit to send us their films and we will do an acquisition deal like we do for any of the other films and releasing companies. We are trying to provide a larger space and a place for people to spotlight and see LGBT films.