February 8, 1998
Let's see if we have this straight: Inphomation Communication Inc., the Baltimore company that operates Psychic Friends Network, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last week. The company once employed about 2,000 psychics. And not one of them saw this coming?Quick, somebody call Dionne Warwick - or Groucho Marx, who understood the nature of these things.At its peak, when Warwick was singing the Psychic Friends commercial pitch, the company had estimated revenues of $100 million. When it filed for protection last week, it listed assets of about $1.2 million and liabilities of $26 million.
February 5, 1998
Inphomation Communication Inc., owned by Baltimore businessman Michael W. Lasky -- and probably better-known as the operator of the Psychic Friends Network -- quietly filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this week, with liabilities of $26 million, and assets of about $1.2 million.At its peak, in the early 1990s, Baltimore-based Inphomation had estimated revenue of $100 million to $125 million. But spiraling competition -- which included price-cutting and free phone minutes offered by rivals -- some bad luck and management missteps combined to put the marketing company deep into the red.Steve M. Dworman, publisher of Infomercial Marketing Report in Los Angeles, and an expert on the TV "infomercial" business, estimated that the Lasky company's revenue has plunged to between $25 million and $30 million in the last two years.
January 28, 1997
What will we do without her? What with the millennium approaching, the Clinton administration ever-perched on the edge of scandal, Michael Jackson expecting his first child, Bob Dole launching a new career as credit card pitchman, frosts in the South, floods in the West -- what will we do without Jeane Dixon?She's gone. Perhaps you heard. Or sensed. The famous astrologer, the woman who had the world at her feet after predicting the assassination of John F. Kennedy (I tried to warn him -- don't, don't go to Dallas ...)
June 18, 1995
For Michael Warren Lasky, making predictions is not a whimsy. It's a career.He cut his teeth as a professional sports handicapper, often guaranteeing the outcome of horse races. Then he divined an even more lucrative business -- the "Psychic Friends Network," a 900 telephone line produced by his Baltimore-based company, Inphomation Inc., makers of those 30-minute commercials dressed up as television talk shows.The psychic line, geared for callers looking for advance notice on the outcome of their love life, career, or any other question of fate, has become one of the nation's top-grossing infomercials -- but not without also becoming the subject of controversy.
June 17, 1995
A Baltimore County businessman who has made a fortune producing television "infomercials" and running a phone line with advice from psychics has joined the group taking over the Pier Five hotel and restaurant complex from the city.Michael Warren Lasky, a former nationally known sports handicapper whose "Psychic Friends Network" is part of his multimillion-dollar Pikesville-based Inphomation Inc., is the newest partner in the group headed by Baltimore developer Otis Warren Jr.The group took title to the Pier Five Clarion Inn at a settlement meeting Thursday night, after months of negotiations.