The latest round of mainstream media stories this week were the Steve Austin story in Rolling Stone, the Bill Goldberg feature in People and news of two different networks doing movies and an autobiography book planned on the life of Jesse Ventura.
Both ABC News and NBC are planning to produce made-for-TV biographies on Ventura. The ABC News documentary, which will air on 12/30 on the A&E Network, has been filming in recent weeks with interviews with many people both in and out of the pro wrestling industry. Among those interviewed this past week have included Hulk Hogan, Greg Gagne, Bob Geigel (who was the first promoter to book Ventura in the old Kansas City circuit back in 1975), a friend and his commander in his Navy Seals days, and myself. For whatever reason, the WWF will be not be cooperating with this movie. Perhaps they feel it will be competition for their own planned video release on 12/15 of a Best of Ventura WWF tape. It should be noted that Ventura in a TV news report on WCCO in Minneapolis mentioned they didn’t tell him ahead of time about doing the tape although he wasn’t complaining about more royalties coming in from it, and that they were six months behind in paying him his tape royalties. On recent releases of old footage such as the Best of Survivor Series tapes, the original announcing by Ventura in the old matches was voiced over in studio by the current announcers so the company wouldn’t have to pay royalties to Ventura). Because of all that, whatever pro wrestling footage that would air would likely be from WCW as an announcer and possibly the AWA as a wrestler, unless Don Owen has any 70s tapes still laying around.
The Hollywood Reporter on 12/4 quoted NBC insiders as saying that NBC West Coast President Don Ohlmeyer and entertainment president Scott Sassa (whose name may be familiar to pro wrestling fans as back about six years ago Sassa was one of the major TBS executives who voted to fold the wrestling operation due to millions of dollars in annual losses and declining television ratings, only to have Ted Turner himself veto the idea) came up with the idea after Ventura’s appearance on the “Tonight Show” on 11/17 drew a 6.2 rating and 16 share nationally and a 30.5 rating and 60 share in the Minneapolis-St. Paul market, the best numbers that show has done on a Tuesday night during sweeps in two years. The movie has not even started production.
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