The former "Son in Law" took a rather aggressive approach to pitching his latest project, "Natural Born Komics," to potential distributors by appearing at his own production company's booth throughout the three-day summit. He then took matters even more in his own hands when he made the studio rounds by walking into the exhibits of the likes of Sony Pictures Television and shouting, "OK, who's the boss? Let's talk to him right now!"
Such outlandish behavior is to be expected at a NATPE conference, where for every mainstream success story such as "Rachael Ray" or "Dr. Phil" there are dozens of quirkier fare such as "Trailer Court Justice" or a Kato Kaelin reality show to keep things lively.
The Clever Cleaver Brothers, for example, are one such example of NATPE staples (this year marked their 13th appearance on the Vegas floor) who've benefited greatly from their exposure at the conference, having amassed a number of deals for their syndicated cooking segments with domestic and foreign TV stations as well as on regional public transportation screens.
"I was impressed with the number of NATPE attendees from L.A. and Chicago who said, 'Hey, I see you guys every morning on my way to work,'" said the brothers' personal manager, Clinton Billups. "It shows you how the TV industry has changed dramatically from having to position rabbit ears to receive two channels."
Yet in the ever-evolving TV landscape, the independent studios and talent who flock to NATPE each year are well aware of the record amount of options distributors -- not to mention consumers -- have to choose from, therefore incentives are key.
Shirtless male models
Since it's Vegas, several upstarts opted for scantily clad hostesses and flyer girls to lure potential buyers. Janice Dickinson took a similar approach when she showed up at the Fremantle booth with two shirtless male models who were later ordered to "Drop trou!" in her signature authoritative fashion. But for Pauly Shore's Stardust Productions, having your talent do all the work for you is the best way to get your name out there.
"I wouldn't have been able to do it without [Pauly] on the floor, hustling and wearing our T-shirt," said Stardust President Justin Levine. "Just holding out our hands wouldn't have helped. Any time I go back for another project I'm bringing the star with me."
Although Mr. Levine and his star are still sorting through offers, leaving their first NATPE with a major distribution would hardly be without precedent, but for 13-year veterans such as the Clever Cleaver Brothers, there's still plenty of reward in building relationships with previous clients using the same old song and dance -- with some special freebie sauces thrown in to spice up their booth.
"We love to say we've got NATPE down to a science," Mr. Billups said. "The TV industry has been evolving in recent years, and there's always the question of how you're going to fit into that evolution and meet changes."