Jason Hervey talks Eric Bischoff, WCW sale, Paul Heyman angle in WCW, TNA, Outlaw Country, more
I recently interviewed Jason Hervey, who is Eric Bischoff's partner in Bischoff Hervey Entertainment. Hervey is best known for playing the role of Wayne Arnold in the Emmy Award-winning hit series "The Wonder Years."
Hervey also worked behind the scenes with WCW until the company was sold to WWE in 2001. Bischoff Hervey Entertainment produced Hulk Hogan's Celebrity Championship Wrestling and Hervey served as an executive producer for TNA while Bischoff was with the company.
During the interview, Hervey talked about the premiere of Outlaw Country on WGN tonight, Paul Heyman clocking him with his phone during their angle in WCW, what role he played in Bischoff almost buying WCW, the current wrestling scene and more. Below is the full interview:
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You made some appearances on WCW while you were still on The Wonder Years. How did that come about?
I've always been a fan. Wrestling is what brought my father, my brother and I to the couch on Saturday mornings. Turner had actually bought the syndication rights to the Wonder Years. I was in Atlanta at the Omni and I had just always loved it. I was friends with Dusty Rhodes. I did a series called Wild Side with Meg Ryan and Terry Funk for ABC. I was around and they asked me if I wanted to get involved and of course I was game to do it. In 1991 I met Eric Bischoff and hit it off, and we've had our company Bischoff-Hervey for the past 8 of 9 years now.
You had that segment with Paul Heyman at Clash of the Champions in 1991. Did you know that well in advance or was that something put together at the last minute? (which is in the video above)
My schedule was a little up in the air and I wanted to attend the Clash. Dusty Rhodes came to me and said Paul Heyman wanted to talk to you in the ring. Paul used to walk around with that clunky Radio Shack phone, and I said "Do you think Paul is going to have his phone?" and Dusty said "What do you think?", so let's just say I saw stars when he conked me with that. I had a big egg on my head, and walked to the back and people shook my hand and I thought "that was cool, I'd do that again!"
Was the phone gimmicked at all?
Nope, regular phone. I told him if it was the Wonder Years I would have called for a stunt double or a prop phone. He was just like "you'll thank me later." It was not gimmick, and was heavy as can be. I remember seeing black before I hit the canvas. Not a gimmicked phone at all.
Were there any ideas pitched to you at that time involving [Wonder Years co-stars] Fred Savage or Danica McKellar in WCW?
Not Danica, but it was always a longstanding joke with Dusty and I that the two brothers needed to settle their differences. Of course it was a joke and not reality, but if Fred was game I would have done it. Everyone kind of said it lovingly, but if we would have said yes, they'd have done it in a second.
Did you ever ask Fred about it?
I jokingly said something one day about it, and his response was something like "in your dreams."
Did you and Eric Bischoff hit it off right off the bat, or did it take some time? How did that partnership grow?
It just grew out of business and friendship. At the time was partners with Peter Grubers and we were working on a bunch of projects for WCW. Eric was WCW's vice president and we had a great relationship and a similar taste in genre and a way that we like to tell stories. He's a guy I learn from all the time. It's a great working relationship that started in WCW and brings us to Outlaw Country. [Tonight] on WGN it's game on. This show looks like no other show. It's got a great sound and soundtrack, and it's a set of people who live life by their own rules. It's a great cat and mouse.
It's an interesting concept because it's a reality show, but it looks at both sides of the law. How did you all hear about this story, and when did the idea come about to turn it into a reality series?
Got a phone call from somebody we work with who said they have a police chief and a mayor in a small town who have seen a spike in crime. It was really all about the introduction to the task force and the mayor and the chief. We got a phone call saying that they wanted to tell the story themselves. We found ourselves in the basement of Revolution Tattoo at like two in the morning talking it out with the members of the alliance. It was intense and intimidating to say the least, but those guys wanted to be a part of it. On Outlaw Country we had the opportunity to be on both sides of the law. That's a richness to be able to tell both stories at the same time and collide with each other, and with two sets of brothers.
You worked behind the scenes in WCW, but I header that you were never a part of the WCW payroll. What was your role behind the scenes?
I was there all the time making the WCW/NWO superstar series tapes and pay-per-view specials. We did DDP and Sting, and did a never before seen animated series that never ended up seeing the light of day. Then of course the soundtrack we did with Tommy Boy records. Out of the collaboration of those things and the friendship with Eric and the other people working there on the creative committee. If I had a good idea they'd use it, if it wasn't a good idea, they wouldn't. As the years go by, the legend grows, but it was really just because we were working on things and I was around for those projects. You just spend so much time working on projects, so of course you're going to say something. I was never an employee of WCW, I was never an employee of Turner, never a named consultant. I've seen people say I was one of the executive producers, but none of that is true.
When WCW folded, Eric Bischoff was in talks to purchase the company. Were you a part of that?
Yes, I provided an introduction to the two guys who were behind the Fusient Media Ventures company. One of the guys was the founder of Crockett Sports Network, but I wasn't involved in the management or day-to-day of putting that together. Eric successfully raised tens of millions of dollars through some blue chip investment banking companies, but I did arrange the introduction to raise all that money. That was a big deal that ended up not happening.
You also did some work with TNA, how different was that and the work you did with WCW?
Times are changing. Not only has the wrestling business changed, but so is the way people watch and consume pro wrestling. I come from scripted TV, and things are moving to reality. As times have changed, so has wrestling. It's a period to infuse reality.
What are your thoughts about pro wrestling today?
I'm a fan of the business, I love it, I hope everybody is successful. As of this moment I'm squarely focused on Outlaw Country and making the most compelling series possible, and I thnk we've done that.
What drew you into the reality genre?
I always wanted to be on the other side of the camera. I think when the genre of celebreality on VH1 started, unless you're the writer or producer you have to control rights to a book or get your hands on a piece of material or talent. At the time, being a non writing executive producer when the genre took off, we had to play to our strengths, which was our relationships in the Rolodex. We understand that sometime there's a reluctance to do a reality show, but Outlaw Country is bold and exciting, and the guys at WGN had the balls unlike any other network to let us tell the story and get people talking.
"Outlaw Country" premieres tonight at 10pm ET / 9pm CT on WGN America.