NYC CABLE TELEVISION ICON BARRY Z. PASSES AWAY
THE LOSS OF NEW YORK'S CABLE ICON
Story By: David Salidor & James Edstrom
|Barry Z. With James Edstrom, Ian Miller And April Sandmeyer|
Cable-TV gadfly Barry Z (The Barry Z Show) passed earlier this week after a series of health setbacks. Say what you will about the ubiquitous Mr. Z, but he was a TV-pioneer much in the way that a Joe Franklin and Nick Yanni were. I worked on a show eons ago, even before Barry, called Crashing New York and though it was done very bare-bones ... we had some of the best guests ever. I know, I booked them. I loved, for lack of a better word, the zeal that those producers had.
Barry Zabusky AKA Barry Z had such guests as Ray Romano, Joy Behar, Brett Butler, Mario Cantone, Joan Rivers, Jackie Mason, Whoopi Goldberg, Jerry Lewis, Pat Cooper, Regis Philbin, Julie Andrews and Liza Minelli on at various times in the show’s history. I handled, and sometimes that word encompassed a lot, his PR, and let me tell you straight away, that some press agents wanted to work with him, and some did not; and, I will not name them. Barry always claimed he didn’t know why this one or that one didn’t want to work with him … but, I know he did. He was relentless and truth be told, sometimes that sets us PR-folk amok. One thing I always admired about Barry was his drive.
His show was at times on Time Warner Cable and most recently, UStream.
I’m one of those press-people who usually believe that any press, is good press … but, within reason. At various times, Barry offered to have himself arrested to generate some ink. I always said no to that. Good idea, but very clearly not the right way to proceed.
I had clients who avoided him like the plague, but other clients, like The Fantatsicks-producer Tony Noto and Mark Bego were regularly invited back. Barry did his homework and was actually a great interviewer.
Bit by bit, we penetrated the media in NYC. Michael Starr at the Post was the first journalist to give him ample exposure and he should be applauded for that as Barry’s show served to introduce many personalities who went onto to bigger and better things.”
Money seemed to constantly be an issue and at times the campaign had to be put on hold. That interrupted things quite a bit, so for a time, it seemed like we'd move one step forward and two steps back. Never a good recipe to follow.
As recently as this April, Barry was still interviewing people … like producer Tony Moran and songsmith Mike Greenly.
Often Barry showed a warmer, softer side, but that was when he got to know you. A ribald sense of humor for sure, he was great to work with. Sure, he had his business problems – reportedly the Post sued him and won, but he had a dream and you know, you’ve got to respect those dreamers.
For better or worse I’ve had many clients on the edge, Barry was always a challenge and I say that in a very good way. He had a dream.
He was one of a kind and I will very definitely miss him. RIP Barry!
|James Edstrom Gives Barry Z. Shocking Interview|
NOTE FROM JAMES EDSTROM
Barry Z was a true cable icon. There were only two, Barry Z and the Famed Robin Byrd. Between the two of them, they changed the way cable came into our homes.
I was on Barry's show many times. He was a loyal friend but over the last few years with all the drama in my life with my abusive landlord St Nicks Alliance, I lost touch. I guess I did not lose him, I kinda lost the world with all the abuse I was getting in my life.
I asked about him a few weeks ago and was told he was doing OK and was still around.
In the old days I would invite Barry Z to all my parties. He would always film and do interviews and I had many big names at my Birthday bashes. I would have the cast of One Life To Live and As The World Turns and Barry Z would turn their worlds. I would have Angie Bowie, Honeymooner Joyce (Trixie) Randolph, Grace Jones, Subway Gunman Bernie Goetz and Barry would interview them all. A interview from Barry Z, was not always a honeymoon. Sometimes he would be doing a professional interview and out of the blue he would ask about erections. Some stars had a great comeback, others freaked out, but this was Barry Z. I would have the heads of The National Enquirer, Star Magazine, The NY Post and The Daily News at my parties and Barry Z. would just push them all away and do his thing.
I had fun with Barry Z. Everyone in New York City knew him and Robin Byrd. They was the queens of cable. Going to any club with either of them would mean everyone was staring at us all night. I was on The Barry Z. float in the Gay Parades. After Barry would treat to dinner and that was something because Barry Z. held onto every dollar. He always had money problems because he spent so much producing his show. Nothing else mattered, his show meant the world to him, even if it meant spending the rent.
Barry Z. could have been huge on Regular Television. There was nothing else like it out there. Once I arranged for some heavy Hollywood producers to meet with Barry Z. about syndicating his show. They saw the value of his access and the value of so many years of stock footage. They were ready to put millions into the project, but things fell apart when Barry Z. wanted to control everything. He still wanted to do it all and the Hollywood people wanted to hire producers and staff and let Barry Z. be the star. Barry Z. wanted control of everything so the deal fell apart. I just never understood this and I told him he needed to give up control and be the star. He refused.
At one of the worst times in my life, when I got real sick from AIDS, I was going through hell with the system in New York City. Barry Z. got on the phone and called Senator Tom Duane. Withing 15 minutes all the problems were solved. I would never had survived if it were not for Barry Z. helping me.
He got big interviews with many stars. But he loved the politicians. I remember he got Congressman Barney Frank to do a interview at Broadway Langans. We drank beer and had a blast.
I am very sad of the Passing of Barry Z. He was a true New York City Icon and a friend!