×

Former Trump Campaign Aide Wants Roseanne Barr for New Streaming Platform

WASHINGTON — After she retweeted messages of support for much of Wednesday — a day after “Roseanne’s” stunning cancellationRoseanne Barr wrote, “You guys make me feel like fighting back. I will examine all of my options carefully and get back to U.”

One of those options could be a new online streaming startup called Bond. Its chief marketing officer, Michael Caputo, former Trump campaign aide, told Variety that the company is in the process of reaching out to the now-former ABC sitcom star in hopes that she will sign on to the venture.

It’s an indication that Barr — who was not just dropped by ABC but by her talent agency, ICM Partners — will have some options, although not necessarily in traditional media. For a new media venture like Bond (first reported by the Daily Beast), even a star in the midst of controversy and condemnation can help drive attention.

Sinclair Broadcast Group, seeking to acquire Tribune Media, is working on plans to program its cable network WGN America, and a block of primetime programming featuring conservative hosts is under consideration, according to sources.

Caputo said that Bond is aiming at the sweet spot between YouTube and Netflix. The former provides little return for content creators; the latter poses challenges for placement. As he says, it’s aimed at drawing creatives “sick of getting YouTube money, and never getting a Hollywood mogul on the phone.”

It will also rely on a business model based on cryptocurrency and “crowd investing,” in which fans would buy shares in the content, and the creator would get a slice of the subscription proceeds. The co-founders are Den Tolmor, writer of “Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom” and an Academy Award nominee for documentary feature, and Vlad Lobak, who has explained the venture in a YouTube presentation. A crowdfunding campaign is planned to launch on June 25, Caputo said. As the Daily Beast reported, it’s also being pitched to Russian investors along with conservative sources.

The content of Bond will be aimed at filling the gaps in content ignored by major networks and the “Hollywood gods,” as Caputo calls them, which could include shows that strike a chord in middle America.

“In flyover country, three-fourths of the stuff they put on television is unwatchable,” he said. “Suddenly, we get a ‘Roseanne,’ a show we can enjoy, and then a decision of a Hollywood mogul determines what we can and cannot watch.” He said that the content will not necessarily have a conservative bent, but will try to fill what he sees as an underserved audience.

He’s not condoning the tweet that got Barr’s show canceled: a comment calling former Obama administration adviser Valerie Jarrett the offspring of the Muslim Brotherhood and “Planet of the Apes.”

“She has admitted it was reprehensible,” Caputo said. “She has expressed regret. But the fact that the Hollywood gods don’t accept that doesn’t mean [her career] needs to end at all.”

He said that he doubted how long she would last on ABC, adding that he thought the mix of Hollywood with someone with “conservative views would always be short-lived. They don’t want to get our dirty shoes on the putting green.”

Caputo has been a familiar face on cable news recently, as he has talked about being questioned by Special Counsel Robert Mueller as part of his investigation into Russian influence in the 2016 election.

But he is also a part of broadcast TV lore:  A huge fan of the series “Twin Peaks,” he helped lead a pre-internet-era campaign to save the show in 1991 after ABC pulled it off the air. Bob Iger, then the head of ABC and now CEO of the Walt Disney Co., ultimately decided to air the final six episodes, although Caputo does not know the extent to which fan reaction was a factor.

He says this time will be different.

“All of the profits that Bob Iger made from the ‘Roseanne’ reboot will now be hers, because we completely cut out the middleman,” he says.

More TV

  • Kamala Harris

    Joe Biden and Kamala Harris Face Rematch in Next Democratic Debate

    Former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris will have the opportunity to square off again in the second debate among Democratic hopefuls vying for their party’s nomination in the 2020 presidential election CNN, which will broadcast the next round of debates on July 30 and 31, televised a draw Thursday night that decided [...]

  • Jon Wax

    Jon Wax Joins Amazon Studios as Head of Genre Programming

    YouTube’s head of scripted programming Jon Wax is joining Amazon Studios as its head of genre programming, Variety has learned. Wax will take up the position recently vacated by Sharon Tal Yguado. He had joined YouTube in August 2017, heading up drama, unscripted and current programming for YouTube’s premium channel. Prior to that, he had [...]

  • South Park Donald Trump

    TV News Roundup: Comedy Central Sets 'South Park' Season 23 Premiere Date

    In today’s TV News roundup, Comedy Central announces the premiere date of “South Park” Season 23 and Netflix sets the premiere date and offers a first look at “Unbelievable.”  DATES Comedy Central announced that Season 23 of “South Park” will premiere Wednesday, Sept. 25 at 10 p.m. Because the episodes are written and animated so [...]

  • US actor Kevin Spacey (C) is

    Kevin Spacey Shouldn't Be Exonerated in Hollywood Even as Criminal Case Ends (Column)

    The news that criminal charges against Kevin Spacey in the Nantucket groping case have been dropped raises an inevitable question: does this mean he can claw his way back into Hollywood’s good graces? Or maybe more importantly: should it?  Spacey’s rapid descent was startling, even as it quickly followed that of the once untouchable producing [...]

  • Game of Thrones

    HBO's Return to Emmy Nomination Dominance May Be Short-Lived (Column)

    As Hollywood braces for the coming streaming wars, HBO’s huge Emmy nomination haul this week sent a new salvo Netflix’s way: The streamer may have the volume, but HBO still has the goods. At least this year. HBO’s record-breaking 137 nominations came on the strength of just 23 programs — led, of course, by “Game [...]

  • Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer

    Starz Nears Realignment: Why Lionsgate Won't Hire a CEO to Replace Chris Albrecht

    Nearly six months after Starz CEO Chris Albrecht exited in February, Lionsgate brass is moving closer to a revamp of the premium TV network’s executive structure. According to insiders, at least one thing is clear: Albrecht is not expected to be replaced as CEO. Instead, Lionsgate chief executive Jon Feltheimer is taking a more active [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content