Producer Howard  T.  Owens Recalls Late TV Exec David Lyle's Office Cocktail Hours

Courtesy Photo
David Lyle

Owens remembers his friend and former boss — the ex-chief of FremantleMedia North America and NatGeo who died Sept. 22 of cancer — as a "giant in the TV world."

David was an old-school guy with a huge heart. He'd have this standing cocktail hour one night a week where people would come by his office and just talk.

David wanted to get to know people on a more personal basis, and he believed that fostered better business, too. He had an elaborate bar in his office — a great, old wood dining cart and this vintage glassware — and from that time, relationships brewed and people bonded. Scientists would come by, explorers, board members, creative executives, assistants. You just had to let his assistant know you were coming so that it didn't overbook.

But that curiosity he had goes back a long way. Before he became a giant in the TV world, he was a geologist in Australia, and he taught geology, too. He always maintained an element of "cool professor" to him.

You could often find him in his office on the weekends. He kept an easel in there, and if it was a rainy Saturday in D.C., he'd be there for hours painting. And his door? His door was always open.

This story first appeared in the Sept. 27 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.