Most people in media know Henry Schleiff for his executive leadership over the years at Viacom, HBO, Court TV, Hallmark Channel and now Discovery, where he is currently Group President of Investigation Discovery, Travel Channel, American Heroes Channel and Destination America. Few if any know, though, that in the late Seventies his very first foray into the television business was as a freelance writer for NBC’s Saturday Night Live.
“It was a very different way to grow up. You don’t realize it while you’re doing it. Getting on airplanes, traveling around the world, singing in stadiums. I never knew anything else. At age five I did my first television show, with my dad and sister. We took people on a televised tour of the Holy Land. We also did a live satellite broadcast at Christmas. It was the first time that a live show had aired from there in the U.S. and around the world. We took people on an intimate tour of places where Jesus walked.” That’s not a prominent entertainer talking about the early days of a lifelong career. It’s Charley Humbard (pictured top right), the founder and CEO of UP TV, recalling a childhood spent traveling and working with his father Rex, the first televangelist, during a recent lunch with Jack Myers and me at Michael’s restaurant in New York City. We were joined by Amy Winter (pictured below, center), Executive Vice President and General Manager, UP.
A short while before his first appearance as President of CBS Entertainment at the network’s annual Upfront Week presentation on the Carnegie Hall stage, Kelly Kahl joined Jack Myers and me for our first-ever dinner at Michael’s restaurant in Santa Monica. Owner Michael McCarty wasn’t in town at the time – he was tending to business at his New York City locale – but he left us in the able hands of his young son Chas, who manages the mothership, and his West Coast staff. “I don’t think there is anyone working there over the age of 28,” McCarty had told us earlier, proudly assuring us that we would get the same quality care as we do in New York, the home of our usual Lunch at Michael’s™ interviews.