May 2015
Volume 35 No. 4

May 2015
View complete issue as a PDF»


By Dom Serafini

The International TV Distribution Hall of Fame is important because it not only gives this business the respect it deserves, but also because, by honoring the pioneers that created the foundation of a sector that became rich enough to support the entire TV industry, we acknowledge the contribution of past, present and future worldwide distribution executives.

For the past three years, I have been lobbying (not vigorously, I must admit), MIP-TV organizer Reed MIDEM and NATPE to create something that would recognize and honor the contributions of international distribution executives to the industry. I even contacted the Los Angeles-based Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (ATAS) about the matter, but never received a reply (they’re happy to celebrate producers, directors and other talents).

The rationale I gave to the trade show organizers was that their events exist thanks to the contributions and the influence of program distributors. For ATAS, I made the point that every sector of the television industry has its own recognized honorees, except the international distribution business. Plus, there is the fact that commercial television outside the U.S. could be created thanks to the contributions of international program distributors, since the nascent private TV sector could not afford to produce quality programs.

So, when U.S. veteran PR exec Steve Syatt suggested that VideoAge start by honoring Alan Silverbach in its MIP-TV Issue, I jumped at the opportunity because I saw it as the springboard for a regular “Hall of Fame” feature that VideoAge could manage, while waiting for a market-oriented organization to take over.

The first task, after the inaugural celebrant was found, was to compile a list of other potential honorees from all over the world, making sure that they were true pioneers.

In this respect, with many differing views from current and former distribution executives (expressed mostly in e-mail exchanges), I came up with two categories: The pioneers are those who started their careers at least in the 1960s, while the veterans began their international distribution careers in the late 1970s to early ’80s. In addition, the honoree must still be living, leaving the task of honoring those who are departed to the organization that hopefully will take over the “Hall of Fame.”

An interesting aspect of this sector is the collegiality with which past competitors recognize each other and vigorously campaign to promote and recognize the contributions of colleagues.

Thus, with the help of many contributors, VideoAge compiled the following list, which is by no means complete; therefore, any suggestions are more than welcome to recognize and honor a very select group of executives whose careers helped shape the world of TV distribution. These men and women worked for Hollywood studios, film and TV content suppliers across Europe and entertainment companies from around the world. They operated without any kind of roadmap, writing the rulebook as they went along — yet transformed an ancillary business into a global industry. These are the individuals who built the foundation we all stand upon.

The candidates for induction into the “International TV Distribution Hall of Fame” are listed below in alphabetical order (this list is a work in progress).

Farouk (Frank) Agrama (Egypt, Italy, U.S.)
Ralph Baruch
Osvaldo Barzelatto (Chile)
Bob Bramson
Bill Cooke (Canada)
Colin Davis
Alice Donenfeld
Ralph Ellis (Canada)
Laurie Fein (Canada)
Sandy Frank
Ralph Franklin
Larry Gershman
Bill Gilbert (U.K.)
Bruce Gordon (Australia)
Max Gusberti (Italy)
Fred Haber
Irv Holender
Norman Horowitz
Herb Lazarus
Pedro Leda (Argentina)
Reiner Moritz (U.K.)
Armando Nuñez Sr.
Giuseppe Proietti (Italy)
Alan Silverbach
Michael J. Solomon
Herb Stewart (Canada)
Banjiro Uemura (Japan)
Marcel Vinay Sr. (Mexico)
Elie Wahba (Brazil)