The New York Times this morning floats the inevitable trial balloon that if Glenn Beck exits Fox News Channel, he might attempt branding a cable channel or expanding a subscription video service via the web. Team Beck is labeling this report “a premature injection of speculation and nonsense.” His insiders stress that Beck has a Fox contract that runs until year’s end and isn’t negotiating anywhere else. Beck’s contract negotiation comes amid somewhat declining ratings of his cablecast. Any launch of a Glenn Beck cable channel would be difficult — just ask Oprah Winfrey — but it would certainly be in keeping with Beck’s growing entrepreneurial appetite. Last year, we’d heard that an animated Family Guy-style primetime series about Beck tried to enlist Hollywood TV showrunners. It would revolve around the “world” of Glenn Beck and would have him doing his own voice, and maybe most of the voices in the sitcom. The idea was to establish him as a conservative answer to Seth MacFarlane. However, I heard that a problem was that showrunners who’d been approached about writing and producing the toon were resistant. “Lots of liberal comedy writers want nothing to do with Glenn Beck,” said one writer familiar with the proposed toon. “Writers who run animated shows are a liberal bunch, and Glenn Beck is the kind of guy they poke fun of.” When I called Team Beck about the venture, it was at first flatly denied. After more prodding over a few weeks, the response from Beck’s production banner Mercury Radio Arts was that there was in fact a distant associate out there discreetly shopping a show (they wouldn’t say whom), but without any official endorsement from Beck. But Team Beck didn’t dismiss the show, even one that was hawked under the auspices that he was involved. A good idea is a good idea, after all, and they were reserving judgment until seeing what package the producer came back with. We’re told now the cartoon never came together to anyone’s satisfaction, but it is an indication that nothing is out of bounds when it comes to building the Beck brand.
While it’s easy to pigeonhole Beck as purely political because of his on-air rhetoric, he asserted in a 2010 interview in Forbes that he was not political, and his business is entertainment: “I could give a flying crap about the political process,” he said. “We’re an entertainment company.” In a follow-up, Beck explained by the brand-minded Tyler Perry is his hero. (more…)