Many years ago, the National Association of Television Program Executives Conference (aka NATPE) was the pinnacle of overindulgence. Outlets like Warner Bros., Sony Pictures Television and the former Paramount and KingWorld would compete to have the biggest booths and the most lavish parties. I remember the endless food and booze, and entertainment from the likes of Elton John and Steely Dan. It was huge.
Back then, the point of the annual gathering was for television stations to acquire product from distributors of syndicated programming. Station executives would be wined and dined while being pitched a potpourri of different types of original shows (including talk, game, magazine and court). Getting a buzz was synonymous with making a deal, I guess. But time and deteriorating budgets have taken their toll, and the NATPE of today – year 54 — is a far more subdued marketplace where the focus has shifted to new media and technology. Some station execs still surface (more for reunion purposes than to do actual business). And some producer wannabes (often wearing lime green or purple jackets for some reason) still walk the floor looking for a deal.
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