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In 'Sellevision,' expect silly, not satire

Published January 5, 2005

Former Home Shopping Network chief executive Mark Bozek always dreamed of being a filmmaker. Now he's about to direct his full-length feature on the wacky world of TV shopping.

Expect a lot of laughs from the loopy characters in Sellevision, but no behind-the-scenes tell-all on the St. Petersburg network that invented TV shopping.

"I think Saturday Night Live long ago cornered the market on HSN satires," said Bozek, who left HSN in 2003 and ran QVC's ill-fated second network Q2. "This will be a black comedy that looks at a segment of our culture that's obsessed with consumerism."

Filming begins in Tampa within a few months on the low-budget film that has lined up Star Wars' Carrie Fisher, Seinfeld's Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Sex and the City's Kristen Davis to play show hosts on a fictitious TV shopping channel. Shooting has been held up pending the selection and schedules of the two male leads.

Bozek, who owns a home in St. Pete Beach, will film in Tampa because he is familiar with prospective locations around the area and knows a lot of entertainment community people here.

Bozek wrote the screenplay based on the first novel of popular humorist Augusten Burroughs. Bozek bought the film rights to Sellevision. Burroughs is perhaps better known for his New York Times best-seller Running with Scissors, his column in Details and frequent appearances on National Public Radio Morning Edition.

"I tried to buy the rights to Sellevision when I was president of HSN, but Augusten wouldn't go along because he feared I really wanted to stop the film from ever being made," said Bozek. "I tried to assure him I really wanted to make it, but he waited until I left before agreeing."

Some reviewers lauded the book as darkly humorous.

"Sellevision is hysterically funny while ruthlessly skewering Americans' obsession with television, shopping and third-tier celebrity," wrote Vicky Uhland in the Rocky Mountain News.

Burroughs' characters are truly oddball. One handsome heartthrob male host accidentally exposes himself to 60-million kids and their parents during a Sunday morning Toys for Tots telethon. A seemingly unflappable female host waxes her ears after a stalker e-mails a complaint that her ear hair obscures the jewelry sales presentation. The criticism of her appearance leads the mother of three to hypochondria, pill popping, alcoholism and rehab.

"It is absolutely the most shallow, petty, mean-spirited little book you'll read," Burroughs wrote.

Never one to take himself too seriously, Bozek's mark at HSN was a drive to make its programming more spontaneous and entertaining. He frequently traveled the campus in a golf cart built in the shape of a pink flamingo and, upon introducing himself as HSN president at retail trade events, was known to pull kitchen gadgets out of his coat pocket.

Bozek, who linked up with HSN owner Barry Diller when both were at the Fox TV network, always wanted a career as a filmmaker. He moved to Hollywood at 17 and got a job as personal assistant to method-acting guru Lee Strasberg. He was nominated for Emmy awards for three documentaries he made at Fox. Before arriving at HSN, Bozek made a 20-minute short comedy starring his wife and Eric Stoltz that was based on experiences growing up in his uncle's funeral home in Detroit.

Mark Albright can be reached at or 727 893-8252.

[Last modified January 5, 2005, 00:40:25]

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