World Championship Wrestling guru Eric Bischoff is positioning himself to become a big-shot Hollywood producer after he's had a chance to help get Ted Turner's wrestling organization back on track.
Bischoff, who recently returned to the WCW to help boost sagging ratings, tells TV Guide Online that his newly formed Fresh Horses production company has already lined up several deals he hopes will eventually allow him to broaden his horizons. The L.A.-based production company has a three-project commitment from Turner for action TV-movies or series; sports opportunities with Peter Guber's Mandalay Entertainment; and a deal with Will Smith's Overbrook production company to create a joint-venture comedy centered around wrestling.
For now, he says, the Overbrook project is the only one his company is actively working on. "Wrestling is the most important thing I do, and getting WCW up and running again has to be the priority," says Bischoff, a former door-to-door meat salesman who first entered the world of wrestling back in 1987. "If that works, it makes it that much easier for me to develop other projects. If wrestling doesn't work, it'll be harder for me to get return phone calls."
While Bischoff's first revamped WCW Monday Nitro telecast last week saw a 25 percent ratings boost, its audience is still half that of its arch rival, the World Wrestling Federation. Bischoff says it's about time the WCW ? which once dominated the WWF in the ratings ? enjoyed a boost.
"There was a time when nobody ever thought the WWF would compete again, and they did," he says. "They were backed into a corner, we had [WWF chief] Vince McMahon down on one knee, he had spit out his mouthpiece, dropped both his hands and was ready to go down for a 10 count. But before he went down, he came up with one last deep breath and found a way to fight back. Now we're in that corner. Now it's our turn to fight back. We will. It's the nature of the wrestling industry."