By Leah Hochbaum Rosner

As NATPE approaches, TV executives are busy prepping their catalogues and themselves for a Las Vegas market that’s sure to give people something to talk about — what with the Writers Guild of America strike and a number of companies leaving the convention floor in favor of the suites or vice-versa. Herb Lazarus, president of the International Distribution division of California-based independent studio Carsey-Werner, is no different. He’s busy getting his catalogue — which consists of series like The Cosby Show, Grace Under Fire and Cybill — market-ready (although he joked that it isn’t hard considering “it’s the same library we’ve had for the past 25 years”).

VideoAge spoke with Lazarus to find out how NATPE has changed in the years he’s attended and to learn why the market is still as important to Carsey-Werner as ever.

Video Age International: How has NATPE changed in the years you’ve attended the market?

Herb Lazarus: When I first started going to NATPE, it was part of the NAB convention in Chicago. Then, when it became the NATPE we know today, we still came. For more than a decade now, I’ve been going with Carsey-Werner, and every year we’ve been on the floor.

VAI: So you like the floor better than the suites?

HL: Definitely. People don’t haphazardly stop by the suites — especially with how bad the elevator service is. When you’re on the floor, people come visit. You make connections.

VAI: In recent years, NATPE has become somewhat Latin America-focused. What does Carsey-Werner have to offer to the Latins?

HL: NATPE’s always been Latin America-focused. NATPE and the L.A. Screenings are the two markets in which Latins always participate. We sell a lot of our programming to Latin America, but nowadays, we’ve embarked on a big campaign to reformat our shows and make local versions of them. We’ve seen local versions of That ‘70s Show and 3rd Rock From the Sun. We made a deal for Cosby in Ecuador and they produced 90 some odd episodes. We currently have things going on in Chile, Argentina and Peru for other shows in our catalogue.

VAI: If you could change anything about NATPE, what would you change?

HL: I would try to make it as long as possible rather than as short as possible. Our clients come in from all over the world and it’s tough for them to only be in Vegas for two and a half days. So, the longer the better as far as I’m concerned. Also, I’ve had discussions with [NATPE president] Rick Feldman about taking people off the floor for seminars. But nothing’s really come of that.

VAI: This year, it seems like a number of studios have either opted out of NATPE or taken a lower profile. Do you ever worry that the studios will drop out altogether? And if that happens, what will become of NATPE?

HL: No, the studios won’t ever completely drop out. But if they did, NATPE would be in trouble.