Some veteran institutional investors could become television stars.
Production is under way on a series for Public Broadcasting Service aimed at teaching the audience about the principles of investing - straight from the pros.
Beyond Wall Street: The Art of Investing, hosted by Newsweek columnist Jane Bryant Quinn and author Andrew Tobias, is expected to air on PBS stations in early 1996. Each of the eight half-hour shows will discuss investment themes by following two experts through their daily activities and listening to them describe their investment processes.
"It's like learning to play golf by watching Jack Nicklaus," said B. Thomas Willison, executive producer of the show. Mr. Willison is chairman of Dakin & Willison, an investment management consulting firm in San Rafael, Calif.
The program is meant to teach viewers the fundamentals of investing - risk/reward, performance, asset allocation and more - that a pension fund executive deals with every day, said Mr. Willison.
The producers expect the audience will be 401(k) and IRA participants who have to make investment decisions. Mr. Willison noted PBS' audience tends to be more financially solvent, better educated and more likely to own securities than the public at large.
Featured experts were chosen based on three criteria, said Mr. Willison: they had to be superior in their field; concentrate on one area or category of investing; and had to be interesting characters.
Among those scheduled to be featured:
Barton Biggs, chairman of Morgan Stanley Asset Management, New York, who will discuss "The Big Picture."
Michael Steinhardt, managing director of Steinhardt Partners, New York, who will discuss hedge fund investing.
Nobel Prize winner William Sharpe, who will review asset allocation.
John Bogle, the retiring chairman and chief executive officer of The Vanguard Group, Valley Forge, Pa., who will speak on quantitative investing.
The program will be shot around the world, following Templeton Emerging Markets Fund President Mark Mobius around Hong Kong and watching Pacific Investment Management Co. Managing Director William Gross explain how he put himself through college playing blackjack in Las Vegas.
The series was developed with the help of advisory board members including John Casey, president of RogersCasey, Darien, Conn.; W. Gordon Binns, Jr., retired president of General Motors Investment Management Co. and Pensions & Investments Editor Michael J. Clowes.
The series is produced with PBS' Pacific Mountain Network, a group of western public television stations. The producers are now filming a sample episode - public television's version of a pilot - with Mr. Gross, which will be used to confirm PBS' acceptance of the series and line up sponsors to cover the remaining production costs. Once the series is completed, it will be presented to the network again, which will then schedule an air date. Mr. Willison said the producers are aiming to have the eight episodes finished by the fourth quarter and are hoping for an air date in early 1996.
Ideally, Mr. Willison said he would like to see the series become a regular part of the PBS schedule, along with mainstay programs such as Wall Street Week. The investment business changes often, which leaves no shortage of topics, and there are plenty of characters in the industry to profile, he said.