Imagine sitting in the front row of “The Today Show” in 1957 with legendary host Dave Garroway at NBC Studios in New York. Then, imagine how that experience would inspire a life-long mission. For brothers Greg and Ernie Schimizzi, they were immediately drawn to the magic of television and committed to one day fulfilling their dream of working in the entertainment industry.
Today, the Schmizzi brothers are two of the most admired and well-liked men in the television industry as the proud owners and co-founders of the hugely successful Hamptons TV, WVVH-TV, which is currently celebrating 20 years of great television. But, like many amazing achievements in life, it took a lot of dedication to find that perfect niche in an otherwise competitive business.
This family-oriented dynamic duo may have started from humble beginnings, but they were destined for greatness at a young age. Sadly, their father, Joseph, who often took his sons to the NBC studio, passed away at the age of 46 and their mother, a dressmaker who worked with the likes of Oleg Cassini was left to raise Greg and Ernie on her own. Mrs. Schimizzi played an integral role in their future, and she encouraged her sons to pursue their interests and education to the fullest. They continued their education at New York University where they both earned degrees and today still remain an active part of the NYU family.
With the love and support of their mother, Greg and Ernie had the confidence and passion they needed to succeed in their future endeavors. Always intrigued and challenged by new innovations, the brothers worked together to brainstorm ideas, and in 1971, the Schimizzi brothers invented an anti-theft device for automobile trunks. The invention would prove profitable, but not without obstacles and a lesson in trust. Fraught with rejection from the Detroit auto industry, they later realized that Chrysler actually went on to install the anti-theft device in their cars without their knowledge. They decided to sue for patent infringement. The money awarded would later help finance their future business.
In 1972 they collaborated once again, this time co-authoring the historical book September 11, 1776: Americas First Attempt at Peace. By 1977, Video Voice, a film production and distribution company, was born. Thirty-seven years later, this parent company has produced and distributed over 150 motion pictures.
In 1994, the brothers bought the last license offered by the FCC for a Long Island broadcast station—UHF 23 Southampton. And so, their journey into the world of television continued. Ernie and Greg would even visit Dan Rattiner in his office to broadcast five-minute segments called “The Dan Report” at the same time that CNN Headline News broadcast in the early years.
“We view television as an electronic art form,” Greg said. Every step of the way, Greg and Ernie have maintained an open mind and looked for better ways of reaching a broader audience. And, with a cross cultural variety of programming, they have made an enormous impact on their Hispanic audience.
Today, WVVH-TV is watched in over five million homes. It continues to deliver the latest in news and entertainment. Shows include the award-winning “American Dream Show” with host Ingrid Lemme, “The Daily Buzz,” coverage of the Hamptons International Film Festival and the Hampton Classic, “In The Mixx” with host Gina Glickman Giordan and “The Real Hamptons” with host Michael Wudyka. The station is continuously evolving.
WVVH-TV has also partnered with East Hampton Studio, a 31,000 square foot state-of-the-art space owned by Wudyka. The studio is the perfect setting for broadcasts and has been the venue for an array of events. It also offers motion picture production space.
Greg and Ernie Schimizzi are two of the most down to earth people with incredible insight and cutting edge style. Their passion for the art of film and television is something they share with up-and-coming graduates and enthusiasts. “We are kids at heart and the success of WVVH-TV is a dream come true,” said Ernie.
“We like to support young filmmakers,” said Greg. Greg and Ernie Schmizzi are looking to the future and thinking where the next 20 years WVVH-TV will take Hamptons viewers.
WVVH-TV can be seen on Cablevision Channel 78, on Fios Channel 14, Web stream, Smartphone and YouTube at www.youtube.com/vvhtv.