Dennis Miller is joining the Fox Nation streaming platform as host of a new docuseries, The Informercials That Sold Us.
Streaming as of today, Jan. 10, The Informercials That Sold Us sees Miller provide a nostalgic and poignant look back at the years when infomercials ruled late-night TV, featuring interviews with the colorful personalities who help make these ads entertaining.
Through the three episodes, Miller will walk viewers through the days when infomercials were lucrative and celebrities wanted to participate them. The docuseries will feature pitch people including Suzanne Somers, who was interviewed not long before her death in October 2023, as well as Tony Robbins, Brooke Burke, Melissa Rivers, Leeza Gibbons, and others.
“We’re excited to kick off 2024 with legendary comedian Dennis Miller guiding viewers through the early days of the infomercial phenomenon, which played a pivotal role in the cultural zeitgeist of that era,” Fox Nation president Lauren Petterson said in a statement.
Miller added, “I am very proud to be a part of this project. It’s easy to dismiss the Willy Loman’s who hawked products on late night TV as nothing more than easy punchlines. But The Infomercials That Sold Us shows us the humanity of these pitch people, who came from nothing and, armed with self-belief and perhaps a fine mop, made themselves wealthy and famous. It’s the ultimate American success story.”
Miller has been on TV for decades. He rose to fame in the 1980’s as a cast member on Saturday Night Live, including a stint as the host of Weekend Update. He hosted the HBO talk show Dennis Miller Live from 1994-2002, and held court on CNBC for a brief time as host and ep of the interview talk show, Dennis Miller (2004-2005).
He’s also no stranger to Fox News. Miller, a conservative comedian, was a recurring guest on The O’Reilly Factor for several years during that program’s lengthy run.
Below are the episodic descriptions for The Infomercials That Sold Us:
Episode 1: The Innovators
It all started in 1984, when the FCC lifted a rule limiting the amount of commercials stations could run in an hour. Little did they know, they were opening the door to charismatic salespeople taking over late-night TV, hawking everything from exercise equipment, self-help tapes, and mops to quick-get-rich schemes. Some of the biggest names from that era, like Tony Little, Anthony Sullivan, and Tony Robbins, share their stories from the early days of the infomercial.
Episode 2: Shining Stars
By the early 1990s, the infomercial business was in a crisis. Lured by easy money, a lot of scammers were flooding the airwaves. Greg Renker, an infomercial pioneer, describes how he saved the business by testifying before Congress and promising the business would clean up its act. A second sea change hit the infomercial business when established stars broke the long-standing taboo against doing TV ads and started cashing in on the craze. Early pioneers like Leeza Gibbons and Suzanne Somers describe how their gambles opened the door for huge names, from George Foreman to Justin Bieber and Cindy Crawford, to join the late-night sales wars.
Episode 3: Internet Killed the Infomercial Star
By the early 2000s, late-night airtime was getting prohibitively expensive, and the infomercial airwaves were dominated by established stars with huge budgets. However, a few unique salespeople made themselves rich and famous during that time. Brooke Burke, Billy Blanks, and Vince Offer, better known as the ShamWow Guy, share their incredible rags-to-riches stories. By the early 2010s, the golden age of infomercials was coming to an end, killed off by social media. Plus, here’s a look at where some of the biggest stars of the golden age of infomercials are now.