David Lyle, one of Australia's most important exports and experts in multi-media, television, formatting, programming, and distribution earned his nickname 'Mr Television'. The title aptly described his personal attributes, his presentation and personality. David and his wife Janne Dennehy literally saved my life more times than a cat. David died yesterday in L.A surrounded by Janne and his family. He fought his cancer to his last tear, which was not for himself, but for the loved ones around him. He graduated from Sydney University in Geology which enabled him to deal with the hard, thick, rock-headed executives in television, where his natural talents of curiosity, invention and intuition for creating programmes still run twenty years after he invented them. He single handily created reality television in Australia, with Getaway, Better Homes and Gardens, before being poached by a German conglomerate to London to oversee international distribution and acquisition. Rupert Murdoch saw a genius when he looked at his figures on American Idol, and other top rating programmes that he put him in charge of an entire Fox Channel, starting from a scratch. Fox Reality gave birth to Wicked Tuna, My Bare Lady (a show that took porn stars from the States to study as the Royal Shakespearian Academy in London) and the incredibly popular Bill O'Reilly's "Killing Lincoln' with Tom Hanks.
World wide obituaries speak of his personal charisma, charm and unique ability to get things done. Television eats its own, but not one person took a back bite at David because he exuded a goodness, humour and kindness that was rare in that savage jungle.
I want to speak of David Lyle and his wife as friends. There was no limit to his financial generosity and personal time, of which I took full advantage. After a sudden halt to my indestructible and god-given golden life, caused by bankruptcy, depression, litigation and hospitalisation, he asked me to stay with him at his North Sydney home for three weeks to get back on my feet. I stayed 7 years during which time they moved out but my welcome never wore out. When Richard Roxburgh and I were down and out in Los Angeles, exhausted by the superficiality and the lack of insight into our geniuses, they allowed both of us to stay for years. Rake was born in the Lyle's living room on North Weatherly Drive, opposite Hustler and The Roxy.
David paid for my numerous visits to NYC to see my son, my accomodation and gym fees in Sydney. He gave me his navy blue thick woollen coat for New York winters, despite himself living in the more freezing Washington at the time. In NYC, with my step-husband John Alexander, the eminent American painter we plotted 'Rat Fishing in New York' based on John's early days in Soho, where he and his SNL friends would hook meat onto fishing lines and hauled large rats out of the garbage late at night, a series begging to be picked up. He introduced me to his large circle of famous friends, to such an extent I pretended to everyone in Australia they were mine.
One long Easter weekend he and Janne moved my furniture and clutter from Miller's Storage in Rushcutters Bay into the apartment where I now live while I pretended to work in the office on a book I've yet to finish. If David had kept closer to his religious upbringing through Riverview College, there would be little doubt that Pope Francis would declare him Blessed, a short leap to Sainthood within months. He took from himself and gave it to the greedy and lazy like me.
The tyranny of distance and the distance from tyranny meant that time conspired to force me to make a living, buy groceries and look after myself, an impossible task. He gave me a copy of "Emotional Intelligence" at least four times. It went in one eye and out the other without touching a nerve. David was meticulous in everything he did, he nurtured friends, he did a trial pack the night before travelling, his briefcase had fourteen different coloured Fountain Pens. In my chaos we were polar opposites but he treated me and everyone on earth as if we belonged to a common tribe. He was democratic and generous to a double fault. I let him down, socially, personally and emotionally countless times. Only now do I understand that true civility, good manners and an open heart are the hallmarks of humanity.
He has dented my narcissism to such an extent that I, thankfully, will never be the same.