Laurie Silvers Looks Ahead

It was exciting to create a TV network from scratch and thrilling to work alongside two of the most revered figures in science fiction.

But for Laurie Silvers, co-founder of the Sci-Fi Channel, it wasn’t the capstone of her career. That distinction belongs to her next venture – or the one after that.

“I would say, if pushed, that my most exciting enterprise, if you will, is my next one. I don’t know what it is, but I’m always looking to the future. ‘What else do I want to create?’ ‘Where do I want to be in five years?’ I’m always looking to the future, and to me, as an entrepreneur, that’s what’s really exciting.”

Laurie SilversSilvers and her husband, Mitchell Rubenstein, run Hollywood Media Corp., which is a part owner of the online ticketing service MovieTickets.com and owns and operates book licensing and development businesses.

In the late 1980s, Silvers and Rubenstein saw a market for a science-fiction channel on cable TV and set out to create it. Along the way, they recruited two heavyweights to their board of advisors: Isaac Asimov, author of more than 400 books and arguably the greatest sci-fi writer of the 20th century, and “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry, both of whom became friends with the couple and volunteered their input, helping them formulate programming for the channel.

“It was an incredible experience. It was a true American entrepreneurial experience,” Silvers said. “From having an idea – a really, really big, exciting idea and not knowing how to make it happen, but kind of figuring it out along the way… it was four years of a lot of hard work and entrepreneurial spirit to see it become a reality.”

An Early Start

Her career ambitions began as a child. Her father was in the media business, owning radio, television and cable properties.

“I was one of those kids that loved to follow my father around and watch what he did and go to the office. I just was kind of fascinated with that world.”

After graduating from the University of Miami Law School, she began practicing communications law, representing media owners.

“I loved representing sales, acquisitions, learning about the various revenues and marketing and the employees… everything that went into creating all these businesses.”

When she had the opportunity to acquire a small cable system, she jumped – “and things kind of took off from there.”

Ultimately, the couple sold the Sci-Fi Channel, which today is owned by NBC Universal and was renamed Syfy. In 2000, they launched Broadway.com, an online seller of show tickets and hotel packages. A decade later, Hollywood Media sold Broadway.com to Key Brand Entertainment for a reported $45 million.

A Busy Charitable Schedule

In addition to her business career, Silvers, who lives in Boca Raton, has been active in numerous charitable and civic organizations. She has served the Economic Council of Palm Beach County, where she was chairman; the Kravis Center of the Performing Arts; the University of Miami’s Board of Trustees, as well as numerous other groups, including Women of Tomorrow, where she mentors at-risk girls at public high schools.

In fact, she notes that one of the girls she counsels at Spanish River High School in Boca Raton was accepted into Harvard, Princeton and Yale.

She is also co-chair of MorseLife’s biggest fund-raiser of the year, on Dec. 14, 2013, at the Mar-a-Lago Club. She learned about MorseLife, a provider of health care and housing to seniors in Palm Beach County, about four years ago.

“It was so impressive. As soon as we saw what was happening and how it was run and the people that it was helping, we knew that we wanted to get involved.”

While she’s asked to serve many organizations, she gravitates toward those that are personally meaningful to her.

“I like to become involved with things that are close to my heart, where I can see the results of my involvement.”

The Future of Media

Business-wise, she continues to look forward. Though she’s spent a lifetime in media, she’s uncertain how things will unfold, which for Silvers, is part of the allure.

“I think in my lifetime, there will be so many different evolutions of content and technology that there’s just pretty much not any way to know where we’re going to be in five years.

“That to me is exciting. I love the possibility and the potential of being on the forefront of some of these exciting new things that are happening.”

Get more information on the 2013 MorseLife Dinner Dance.

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