TCA Press Tour 2011: Tavis Smiley in talks with AEG Live to move TV show to downtown Los Angeles studio
The PBS talk host is currently doing his weeknight show out of studios at KCET-TV in Silver Lake -- despite the fact that, as of the start of the year, that station is no longer airing his show. KCET left the PBS fold in a dues dispute and lost the network's entire lineup as well.
Now Smiley says he's in talks with AEG Live -- a subsidiary of the Anschutz Entertainment Group, which owns and operates Staples Center among other venues -- about moving in to their TV studio space.
“We have been in conversations with AEG Live about possibly moving, a year from now, our studios downtown into some brand new facilities that they have," Smiley said in an interview this week.
Smiley, who started his career as an aide to former Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, added: “Being downtown would be a great place to be, the energy, the activity. I’d be happy about that -– if we could work the deal out.”
One big sticking point: Money. KCET gives Smiley a major break on rent for his current studio space. The price of facilities in downtown is only going up. "Doing business downtown these days isn’t cheap," he said.
While the two sides continue talks, Smiley added, his current contract with KCET will last through this year.
But he and his crew may be spending a little less time there. As part of his new partnership with New York PBS station WNET, he's already considering new projects and revamping his marketing efforts for the talk show. And WNET has also offered use of its Manhattan studio space.
"We’re going be doing more of our shows in New York," Smiley said. But "L.A. is home. We love L.A.”
-- Scott Collins
Photo: Tavis Smiley. Credit: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times