How Larry King Helped Put Ora.TV on the Map
Backed by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, the digital platform continues to grow following the launch of King's talk show "Larry King Now" in July 2012.
This story first appeared in the Nov. 22 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Even before Jon Housman joined Ora Media -- part TV producer and part digital network and a venture formed in early 2012 and backed by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim -- discussions already were underway to bring Larry King into the fold.
When Larry King Now, a digital "reboot" of King's former CNN talk show featuring interviews with such A-listers as Matthew McConaughey and Seth MacFarlane, launched months ahead of schedule in July 2012 as Ora.tv's kickoff program, the cornerstone of the new digital operation -- the Spanish "Ora" translates to "now" -- was laid. It's just one part of the growing broadcasting empire of Slim, who calls King a "dear friend and partner."
"Larry is one of the more iconic personas on the planet," says Housman, CEO of Ora.tv. "The fact that he's so well-known, so well-respected, loved in many areas -- including in Hollywood -- and that he's relevant despite his age was a big plus."
Since then, Ora.tv has rolled out a slew of programs in the news-talk and cultural unscripted spaces, with plans to premiere Wayward Nation, a show revolving around millennials road-tripping across the country in search of the American dream in a nontraditional way, and a project with Independent former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura. Although the DNA of Ora.tv remains firmly ingrained in the unscripted realm, Housman hints that they are "dipping our toes" into scripted, with "a few scripted projects in the works."
Even so, Housman credits King for helping put Ora.tv on the map (Ora.tv struck a multiyear deal for Hulu to stream King's 30-minute show).
"Larry was an incredibly good starting point for us," he says, adding that the renowned interviewer remains "at the center" of its programming. "He's a big part of all parts of our mission."