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High school junior's extracurricular activities: DJ company, reality TV development

Oliver Bogner, 17, balances making grades with making deals.

March 30, 2010|By Yvonne Villarreal

Like a seasoned television honcho, Oliver Bogner swivels in his plush office chair and reaches for a blank CD in a nearby cabinet. He just finished editing a video showcasing his latest reality show idea and it's ready to be copied and shipped to television networks. Now it's time for . . . homework?

At 17, Bogner's list of extracurricular activities is hardly the average teenage fare.

Sure, there's the customary position in student government. But then there are the conference calls with producers and network executives. The time spent promoting teen club parties. And the hopping across town -- with his mother at the wheel -- as his DJ crews are booked for local events. Such is the life of this young entrepreneur.

"What can I say? I have a lot of energy," the energetic teen said.

Forget video games. There's no time. Bogner, a junior at Beverly Hills High School, has a busy schedule -- taped to the wall of his pint-sized bedroom office -- to prove it.

Tuesday through Thursday is reserved for school; classes are on an adjusted time frame to fit his unusual lifestyle. On Fridays, he hosts school TV station KBev's weekly dating show "Norman of Love," which he created and produces. His DJ company is booked for a couple of parties over the weekend. He has pitch meetings with E! Network and Style Network on deck in the coming week. And another meeting with the Food Network. Business dealings with his manager and agent too. Then there's time spent serving as junior class treasurer at school.

Oh, and that pesky homework -- "that's usually done late at night."

"He's chosen this life," said his mother, Cindy. "I felt bad for him -- you know, being so busy and missing out on some teenage stuff. But he loves this."

In seventh grade, while his peers were perfecting pop-a-wheelies on bikes and cruising the mall, Bogner started a disc jockey company called GO Entertainment in an attempt to profit from the dances hosted by his school, Beverly Vista School.

"I thought, 'I can do this,' " the baby-faced teen recalled. "And I could do it cheaper than the people they were hiring."

It worked. His school hired him. And then other schools in the district hired him. By the following year, Bogner was booking eight to 10 events per month and owned three sets of equipment -- enough to do three parties in one night.

The humdrum gym dances eventually turned into all-age house parties; the first -- shortly after his middle school graduation -- attracted more than 600 people, who paid $20 each to get in. It's now a company raking in upward of $30,000 a year.

And out of the party lifestyle, an aspiring television titan was born.

Bogner hired a USC film student to follow him and his crew around at one of their many extravagant parties. Bogner edited the footage himself and, after "stealing" his film producer father's contacts list, began making cold calls to agents and sent mailers of the DVD he cut together.

The amateur footage eventually caught the interest of cable giant Comcast Entertainment Group (E!, Style Network), which hired CB Harding, the director behind the onetime reality hit "The Osbournes," to shoot "Party Prince 90210" last May. The program, capturing all the drama of Bogner and his friends as they manage the party scene of the teenage elite, is now being considered for airing on one of Comcast's networks. Bogner is credited on the show as a producer.

His TV ventures continued from there. William Morris Endeavor signed Bogner as a reality TV producer and he has a first look/co-production deal with producer Gay Rosenthal ("Little People, Big World"; "Ruby").

"He's super-impressive," Rosenthal said. "He has a lot of ideas and they're good . . . and he has this passion about him. I'm selective about who I make deals with and what kind of deals I make. It's nice to have a fresh young mind come in with ideas. He has a really good energy about him."

The ideas haven't yet spawned hit series -- or even shows that have hit the airwaves. But he's working on that.

"It's a long process," Bogner said. "I'm constantly on the phone, making changes to things. And some shows are close to getting sold, but nothing has been announced."

When he's not mulling over an algebra equation or researching topics for an English essay, Bogner trolls websites, newspapers, magazines for show ideas -- a mascot competition series, a reality program chronicling the life of the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Kristy Swanson. In addition to Gay Rosenthal Productions, Bogner has optioned shows to the Greif Co. and Target Entertainment Group.

"When he walked through the door, I was like, 'What is this?' He's a kid," said Jenny Daly, a producer with Target Entertainment Group. "He was 16. He's doing what people in the industry coming to me have been doing for 10 years."

And he's just getting started.

Bogner, who hopes to study film at USC after high school, wants to become a full-fledged producer. "I like the idea of developing -- taking an idea to paper and then to the camera," he says.

Directing? He wouldn't mind doing that either. Something in the vein of the American Music Awards, he said.

"That would be, like, kind of awesome."

yvonne.villarreal @latimes.com

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