LOS ANGELES — The eye-rolling on the 20th Century Fox lot was epic. The co-chairman of Fox Filmed Entertainment, Tom Rothman, wanted to moonlight as the host of a cable television show? Seriously?
Tom Rothman, the host of the program “Fox Legacy.”
“All I could conclude,” said Richard D. Zanuck, the former president of Fox and the son of its legendary chief, “was that the man had lost his mind.”
Few plotlines in Hollywood are more frightening than the one when a successful executive steps in front of the camera. Michael D. Eisner is still trying to live down his awkward run as the host of “The Wonderful World of Disney.” Bloggers had a field day in March when Jeff Zucker, chief executive of NBC Universal, filmed an Internet promo for “My Name Is Earl,” ending the video with the words “J. Z. out.”
But after 16 episodes of “Fox Legacy,” the Fox Movie Channel show that Mr. Rothman hosts, Mr. Zanuck and other naysayers are backtracking. The jocular Mr. Rothman has developed a cult following for his historical monologues and self-deprecating style. He gets fan mail — no less a viewer than Steven Spielberg recently dropped him a note — and more episodes are on order.