Conrad Black is back, and his return to Canadian media promises to be salient, sententious, and even a little puissant.
Former newspaper publisher Mr. Black hopes to become a permanent fixture in Canadian living rooms this spring as host of a new weekly television show for the over-50-set called The Zoomer – Television for Boomers With Zip. The live hour-long show in the news-magazine style, to be co-hosted by former TV, radio and music industry executive Denise Donlon, will air on Vision TV, the multifaith, multicultural cable channel owned by former CITY-TV tycoon Moses Znaimer.
“I give an editorial opinion and interview somebody and there are going to be a couple of panels. It only takes a couple of hours to shoot. It’s certainly not a full-time job,” Mr. Black, who is as well known for his oratorical skill as his business background, said in an interview.
“But it’s a bit of a marquee show for them and I will have a lot of people that I know in this and other countries who are fairly prominent who will be happy to be interviewed. We should make it moderately interesting.”
He said he did not have a dream list of guests, but added that former U.S. secretary of state and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Henry Kissinger would “be happy to be our foreign-policy commentator.”
In a demo reel that Mr. Znaimer is using to shop the show to international programmers at a TV conference in Miami, where the show was unveiled, Mr. Black interviews Donald Trump via Skype. The show’s promotional material said each episode will feature an interview with “some of the world’s greats” and close with an editorial. It will feature issues that “really get under [Mr. Black’s] skin,” such as “ageism, pension reform, the U.S. justice system, prison reform, gun control and the world’s financial crisis.”
“He’s the best dinner guest you might ever imagine – learned, witty, clever, engaging, knowledgeable – and opinionated,” Mr. Znaimer said. “Moreover, he is in my view a kind of archetypal Zoomer – he is not only in the demo, but he is reinventing himself.”
Mr. Black, founder of the National Post and former CEO of Hollinger International, served time in the U.S. penal system after being found guilty of fraud and obstruction of justice. He was freed last year, and granted a one-year residency permit to return to Canada (he renounced his citizenship in 2001).
He said he didn’t expect his temporary status to affect his ability to work in this country. “Moses asked me, so I’ll do it,” he said. “We’re just at the pilot stage. I have to make an application for any category of income I receive for work done in this country, but I can’t imagine there’ll be a problem with that; it’s a new venture. I’m not taking anyone else’s position.”
Mr. Black made headlines around the world for his television performances while on a book tour in the U.K. late last year, particularly for comments during a combative interview with BBC broadcaster Jeremy Paxman, in which he said being in prison helped him “endure a discussion like this without getting up and smashing your face in.”
However, he does not appear to be itching for any fights on his own show. “I’m certainly not entering into this with any thought of settling scores with anyone,” he said.