Reach: How Arthur Smith Used The Power Of Reach To Start His Own Television Production Company
05 31 2023By: Marc Berman
Arthur Smith, the producer of "American Ninja Warrior" and "Hell's Kitchen", among countless other nonfiction series, talks about his childhood and career in this memoir. It goes on sale on June 6, 2023
Given my penchant for the nonfiction programming category (aka reality), I was particularly interested in reading the book Reach: Hard Lessons and Learned Truths from a Lifetime in Television, by Arthur Smith. Mr. Smith is already a familiar name as the producer of Hell’s Kitchen, American Ninja Warrior and Trading Spaces, among the countless other nonfiction entries under his banner, A. Smith & Co. Productions. So, I was naturally curious to hear about the path he traveled to get to where he is today. But what made this an immediate “must read” for me came right in the middle of the second paragraph on the first page.
“I wanted to work in the entertainment business. I loved television most of all,” wrote Smith. “I was a child of the ‘60s and ‘70s, and I used to sit for hours in front of the set, watching reruns, game shows, and old movies. I watched everything: Gilligan’s Island, Happy Days,All in the Family, Dallas, and as an avid fan of sports, I especially loved Hockey Night in Canada – but also, strangely (for a ten-year-old), a steady diet of 60 Minutes and national news.”
Personally, I am not a sports fan. Nor was I watching 60 Minutes then (or now actually). And while I was also not necessarily “tearing through the Montreal Gazette every Saturday for the syndicated “TV Times” supplement,” as Smith continued (TV Guide was my option), I knew I would not be able to put down Reach: Hard Lessons and Learned Truths from a Lifetime in Television. And I predict the same reaction from you whether you are a self-proclaimed TV addict like myself or just plain interested in a story of how love and support, inspiration and determination, and the power of positive ambition and enthusiasm can positively fulfill anything you reach for.
“I am very grateful for the life that I’ve had, and every time there is an opportunity for me to talk to young people, whether I am lecturing at a university or doing something at my alma mater, or what have you, I always talk about the power of reach,” said Smith in an interview. “I always talk about the power of extending yourself; of putting yourself out there. You only realize your full potential if you reach beyond what you think you can do.”
“When you are in your early 20s, you don’t necessarily know what exactly you want to do. But my advice is to take your best guess and just go for it,” he added. “If you have an idea of what you want to do, even if it is something that you think is beyond your grasp, just do it. The worst thing to do, at any age, is to just sit there, be stuck in neutral, and just ponder.”
Written by an individual who has never stopped reaching in his own life and career,Reach: Hard Lessons and Learned Truths from a Lifetime in Television by Arthur Smith (which goes on sale on June 6) is a testimonial to the belief that nothing is out of reach if you strive for it.
“Writing the book is part of the latest chapter of my life,” noted Smith, who is donating all proceeds from the book towards the non-profit REACH Foundation he created. “I want to continue to do what I do, but I want to focus a lot of my time on mentoring and developing the young. It is easier to reach if you reach from a strong foundation, and my foundation was my parents. Like any parent, they were worried about every move I made, particularly when I went out on my own. But once I committed to something, I knew I had their support. And they instilled the mindset in me to always reach back and help.”