By Leah Hochbaum Rosner
In the days leading up to NATPE, some exhibitors are worried about the consequences the U.S. studios will face due to the Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike; some are concerned about whether a suite or a spot on the floor is the way to go; and others are just anxiously waiting to learn how their product will fare at the market.
Alfred Haber, founder of New Jersey-based Alfred Haber Distribution, Inc., which is bringing shows such as Most Daring and Most Shocking to Las Vegas, in addition to awards shows like the Grammys and the Golden Globes, isn’t worried at all. He’s confident that the strike won’t yield too many problems, that choosing a spot on the floor was the right thing to do, and that the company’s shows will sell like gangbusters. VideoAge spoke with Haber to learn the secrets of his self-assured NATPE attitude.
Video Age International: It seems that some companies are opting to take a lower profile at the upcoming NATPE. How come you’re not?
Alfred Haber: We’re eagerly anticipating NATPE. We had a very strong fourth quarter and we have a significant number of unfinished deals to attend to. It’s always a busy convention for us. I’m especially looking forward to day three of the market. Last year, we had our busiest day ever at NATPE on day three. It was like we were the last jelly doughnut in a hungry town. I wish NATPE were five days long.
VAI: Do you worry that the studios may one day drop out of NATPE altogether?
AH: I don’t. Even if its gets really thin as far as majors on the floor, so long as buyers are in town, we’ll be there. It’ll be tough to shake us. We’ll probably have about 200 meetings at NATPE. The convention is an incredible distillation of what we do on a daily basis in an exponentially concentrated basis. Meetings move along very quickly there and you can close transactions fast.
VAI: A lot of companies have taken to the suites this year, why have you decided to remain on the convention floor?
AH: I’ve seen the line for the elevators at the Venetian stretched to the Waldorf in New York. People eventually get fed up and make their way to down to the floor, to where we are.
VAI: In recent years, NATPE has become somewhat Latin America-focused. What does Alfred Haber have to offer to the Latins?
AH: We have a bible series that we started in 1989 that is the most successful series in the history of Latin America. We’re in our sixth cycle with it. We’ve had episodes on Jesus, David, Moses, Joseph and more. They’ve aired on such varied channels as Telemundo, Televisa, Globo and Caracol. Come Easter or Christmas, networks want to air these stories.
VAI: How will the WGA strike affect NATPE?
AH: International buyers won’t stay home because of the strike. There may even be some interesting substitutes for scripted programming. I bet we’ll see lots of exciting reality show ideas. There will probably be more network reality series from independents than we’ve seen in the past since nets are ordering less writer-driven stuff. But I don’t think there will be a diminution in attendance.