The television industry is constantly evolving, but according to Doug Herzog ’81, there will always be a need for entertaining content.
“The disruption, changes, and evolutions [of the TV industry] are mind boggling,” said Herzog, former president of Viacom Music and Entertainment Group, but “ultimately, content is king.”
Herzog spoke to nearly 20 Emerson LA students on October 4 about the current state of television and its future. Hoping to engage in friendly conversation and learn more about the students, the Board of Trustees member took personal questions and spent time doling out firsthand advice.
Doug Herzog told students that “great storytelling told by great storytellers will never go away.” Photo/Tommaso Di Blasi
“[Content] is the straw that stirs the drink,” said Herzog. “If you have a good story, nothing really matters. Everything else can change, but there will always be a place for great storytelling. That’s what people want.”
Herzog also discussed what it was like to put shows like South Park on the air. When asked about the infamous Prophet Muhammad episode that was censored on Comedy Central, he said, “I asked myself, ‘could I go to jail for this?’”
The controversial show has revolutionized entertainment, but it isn’t the only show of its kind with Herzog’s name on it. He brought The Daily Show and The Colbert Report to Comedy Central, too, and his influence on the industry didn’t end there; it continues with the next generation of Emersonians.
Doug Herzog told soon-to-be graduates, “your first is not going to be your last job, I promise you.” Photo/Tommaso Di Blasi
Herzog addressed how today’s viewers will never have to sit through commercials because of streaming platforms like Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon. Jordan Gustafson ’17, an aspiring director and Visual and Media Arts major, spoke with Herzog about the internet’s influence on the industry.
“We are the young kids leading the charge of the next revolution,” said Gustafson. “The industry is forever changing and you have to keep your head down and you have to be willing to see where the industry leads you.”
At the end of the evening, Herzog asked the group about whether they were graduating after the Fall 2017 semester. An overwhelming majority responded by raising their hands, and Herzog offered them some advice.
“If you’re a writer, write. If you’re a director, direct. If you’re an actor, act, and just keep doing it,” said Herzog. “You got to want it because if you don’t, someone else does.”