Talk about biting the hand that feeds you.
Germany’s best-paid TV comedian last week launched into a scathing attack of the medium, and denounced network people he has worked with, saying it will take a half year to “decontaminate” himself.
Harald Schmidt, 50, has earned a reported $10 million a year from pubcaster ARD for the last three years to entertain Germans twice a week with his latenight “Die Harald Schmidt Show” — and did essentially the same for Sat-1 for eight years prior. Amid a dip in ratings at ARD last season, he has now cut down the number of his broadcasts to 22.
“I think 22 shows a year is more than enough,” he said in an interview with the weekly newspaperDie Zeit. “I’ll need a half year to decontaminate myself from television. It’s pure agony.”
Schmidt, who has a shrinking but devoted following of roughly 1 million viewers, says he wants to do more legit work in the future.
“Doing theater work means you’re working with people who know what they’re doing, who improve from rehearsal to rehearsal,” Schmidt said. “In TV, it’s more the case that ‘he doesn’t have a clue but he might become cult.’ In TV, a few people sit around with a blank sheet of paper and then try to create a ‘new concept.’ They ask themselves, ‘Hey, are the masses going to understand that?’ I don’t care about that anymore.”
Not surprisingly, Schmidt says the secret of his success in German TV has always been “my kiss-my-ass attitude.”
“Throw me out! I don’t care,” he adds.