I was on the phone today with Mark Taffet, who runs HBO’s pay-per-view department, and asked him how he was doing to start off.
OK, he said.
He sounded sort of glum, actually. I asked why, and he admitted he was a little down because of the death of Bert Sugar. It turns out Sugar made quite a first impression on Taffet back in 1991, when he and Lou DiBella started the HBO pay-per-view arm, TVKO.
“Bert walked into my office, unexpectedly,” Taffet recalled. “I had never met him. He was wearing that white basket weave fedora, a seersucker blazer, red and green plaid pants, loafers with no socks. And I thought to myself, ‘How did this guy get past security?’ He said, in that Bert Sugar fashion, “Uncle Mark, glad to meet you.” And he then launched into an impromptu ditty.
TVKO, pee pee vee/Boxing the way it used to be
Taffet remarked that was a catchy jingle, and Sugar replied that that was no surprise, as he had written the most catchy Nestle jingle, “N-E-S-T-L-E-S, Nestle makes the very best.” (http://www.retrojunk.com/details_commercial/721/)
Sugar was part of the HBO PPV crew for many years after that, doing radio interviews for more than half the day to hype a fight, and writing for HBO.com, and the like. “It wasn’t a big pay per view unless Bert was there,” Taffett said. With Bert, you didn’t even know it was work. He had a great gift of gab, and we were proud to have him as a member of the pay per view team. He was a lovely, wonderful guy, and we will miss him dearly, forever.”