Inside the Mayor's Studio: NYC-TV's Secrets of New York

The many scams of Bloomberg's hip TV execs

He also wants to be taken seriously as an important expert on Middle East matters and other topics. He says he became a player in the Camp David talks due to his close ties to prominent Israeli political figures. "I was the back-door channel," he told the Voice. Charney is so proud of the role he played there that the new movie is actually the second film made about his involvement. "The first one didn't really do the job," he said.

His talk show has run for almost 20 years on city airwaves, a privilege for which he shells out some $4,300 each month. His most recent contract with the station was negotiated in 2005. When it expired in 2008, Wierson made no move to renegotiate or hike the rates charged to his friend. He also kept the show as part of NYC-TV's programming, one of the few standbys from the drab old days that escaped Wierson's ax as he made over the station in its new hip image.

"It's akin to the Charlie Rose show," Charney said. Or maybe more like Charlie Rose meets Shecky Greene. On air, Charney speaks in an often indecipherable drone and is fond of inserting homemade puns and jokes. In a recent broadcast, Charney asked his guest, former governor Mario Cuomo, to comment on the State Senate's gridlock. "It's an aberration," Cuomo began. The host interrupted. "Aberration? You mean like those people in Australia?" Cuomo, an old friend of the host, folded his hands and smiled tightly. "Wait," added Charney, "I have to tell you a joke." He then went on to imitate what he said was a monkey singing.

MADtv: Ex–NYC-TV execs Scotland, left, and Wierson with station's biggest booster
"NBC and NYC-TV Announce Historic Content Partnership," August 2006
MADtv: Ex–NYC-TV execs Scotland, left, and Wierson with station's biggest booster

Every December, Charney tapes an end-of-year wrap-up show with a special guest. One year, it was President Carter. Last year's guest was Wierson. "He controls this station so whatever you hear tonight can be censored by him because he is the boss," Charney said by way of introduction.

Wierson, dapper in a lavender shirt and gelled hairdo, told his host that it was great to be there. "We've shared so many dinners together in private," he said. "Now we get to share one of our conversations in front of your audience. It is really exciting."
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