Anthony Scaramucci is no stranger to taking risks, but his bold and unusual decision to revive a legendary television franchise on his own dime paid off and resulted in “Wall Street Week” landing on the rapidly growing Fox Business Network.
“We want to eliminate the jargon,” Scaramucci told TheWrap. “Bill O’Reilly has a no-spin zone, we want to have a jargon-free zone.”
“Wall Street Week” was an iconic PBS business program that aired on PBS every Friday night for 35 years, most of that time anchored by the late Louis Rukeyser. PBS ended its run in 2005 when non-Rukeyser hosts failed to maintain the show’s popularity. Rukeyser died in May 2006.
But late last year Scaramucci, the founder of SkyBridge Capital, purchased airtime on Fox affiliates to reboot the show into what was technically a glorified infomercial. He was a big fan of the original version and felt Wall Street needed a business-to-business program where investors could learn from other investors. The decision paid off, as the show now airs on Fox Business Network in its original timeslot of Friday nights at 8 p.m. ET.
TheWrap caught up with Scaramucci and his co-host, Gary Kaminsky, on the set of their show immediately after filming tonight’s episode. The two have known each other for over 30 years and have a unique on-air chemistry that translates even when the cameras turn off. When Scaramucci wanted to revive the “Wall Street Week” brand, Kaminsky was the first person he turned to for advice.
“We had no ad budget. We had no television station,” Scaramucci said. “We had no studio. We had no camera. As entrepreneurs, we basically said ‘with that as a backdrop, we’re going to go out and create a show. We tried to not make it an infomercial once we were there. We brought in a whole host of different guests, high-profile people, several billionaires and even Jeb Bush.”
After 30-odd episodes of the quasi-infomercial version, Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes liked what he saw, took over the show and moved it to Fox Business Network.
“Roger was aware that the brand still had tremendous value,” Kaminsky said.
Scaramucci and Kaminsky, a senior advisor at Morgan Stanley, are both self-proclaimed control freaks in other aspects of life, but don’t mind letting Ailes call the shots when it comes to “Wall Street Week.”
“We have enough control where I’m totally satisfied, but we’re also picking up the benefit of their [Fox’s] strategy, set design and programming ideas.” Scaramucci said. “The only thing that Roger said was ‘let’s move it back to the original time spot.’”
Scaramucci and Kaminsky loved the nostalgic idea and welcome constructive criticism from Ailes and senior executive vice president Bill Shine.
“There is ‘Wall Street Week’ of the 1970s, but it has to be a very different show in 2016. In the ’70s, it was a source of information for what is going on during the week,” Scaramucci said. “Now you have the smartphone and access to Fox Business Network with their ticker during the day.”
The goal of Kaminsky was to bring back the show in “all its glory,” which is about investing, not simply day trading. They realized it needed make an editorial-like show featuring long-form interviews that is less intimidating than typical business programming.
“Carl Icahn goes on TV a lot. When Carl Icahn came on ‘Wall Street Week,’ you saw a side of him that nobody has ever seen. He talked about his upbringing. He talked about his father and their relationship, his early struggles,” Kaminsky said before explaining that Scaramucci coined the phrase that is now the show’s unofficial mantra: “If you want to watch the ticker, you know where you can watch that. If you want to see what makes Wall Street tick, watch ‘Wall Street Week.’”
Scaramucci went to Harvard Law School with President Obama and the two remain friendly despite not seeing eye-to-eye on political issues. Kaminsky is optimistic about his buddy’s guest-booking skills.
“I would not be surprised if one of the first shows the president comes on after he leaves office is ‘Wall Street Week,’” Kaminsky said.