Fates and Fortunes

Fates & Fortunes Weekly Round-Up: week of Nov. 9, 2009

11/10/2009 06:28:48 PM

This week’s goings and comings are a bit late this week due to last week’s syndication craziness that kept me busy. As always, you can follow Fates on Twitter @BCFates or me personally @PaigeA if you are willing to put up with tweets about how ridiculous the big Gossip Girl three-way was. Forward fates to me at BCFates@gmail.com or at palbiniak@gmail.com.

Big Kahunas

WCBS New York President/General Manager Peter Dunn has been named president of CBS Television Stations, with oversight of the 29-station portfolio. He will report to CBS President/CEO Leslie Moonves and will retain his current title at WCBS. Current station group president/CEO Tom Kane is exiting his post.

Just after announcing that move, CBS revealed what it calls a “strategic restructuring of its local broadcasting operations.” CBS Radio CFO/Senior EVP of operations Anton Guitano was named COO of CBS Local Media, reporting to Moonves, CBS Radio President/CEO Dan Mason and Dunn. (Wow, three bosses – what an embarrassment of riches for lucky Mr. Guitano.)

Jordan Hoffner, director of content partnerships at YouTube, will join Ben Silverman’s IAC-based startup Electus, reported Paidcontent.org. At YouTube Hoffner had been responsible for inking deals with professional content companies. Silverman started Electus, with Barry Diller’s backing, after announcing in July that he would be leaving his post as NBC co-chairman of entertainment.

Oprah co-exec producer Lisa Erspamer was named chief creative officer at OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network. Erspamer is an Oprah insider – she’s been at Harpo for 15 years and co-EP of Oprah since 2006, overseeing this year’s stellar premiere week and Oprah’s famous Pontiac giveaway, among many other things. Ersparmer will relocate to Los Angeles from Chicago for her new gig. Naming Erspamer set off a new round of speculation that Winfrey would move her syndicated talk show to OWN and her company to Los Angeles.

Media and entertainment industries investment banker Mitchell Scherzer has been named VP/CFO at Hearst Corp., reports Forbes. The former Goldman Sachs media group co-head most recently led the media division at The Silverfern Group. His appointment is effective November 16.

Corporate Changes

Fox Networks Group human resources head Adrienne Gary is leaving the company at the end of the month to relaunch her own human resources consultancy group. Gary has been with the Fox Networks Group for six years. Prior to that, she was at Warner Bros.

Rebecca Meyer, Olympic team sales manager at rep firm Continental Television Sales, has been named VP and director of sales for the East Central group of stations, based in Chicago. Continental is a division of Katz Television Sales. Meyer joined Continental in 1990 and has been there ever since save for a brief stint as local sales manager at WAOW Wausau, Wis.

Joe Schlosser has been promoted to SVP of TV publicity at NBC Entertainment. Previously, he was SVP of communications at NBCU Domestic TV Distribution, where he’d been since May 2004. Prior to that, he was in PR at the Hallmark Channel. Schlosser formerly was B&C’s Los Angeles bureau chief. (Hey, so was I!)

Programming Prospects

One hundred employees of A&E Networks were laid off last week. A staff reduction has been considered imminent since September, when Disney-ABC TV, Hearst and NBC Universal finalized their joint venture ownership of A&E Networks. As part of the deal, Lifetime’s female-focused assets were incorporated into the group.

Marc Lorber has been appointed to the new position of SVP, original programming and production, executive producer, at HBO Central Europe, reported BroadbandTV. He joined the company on Monday, November 9, and will be based in Budapest. Lorber comes to HBO from Marvista Entertainment, where he was SVP production.

Momita SenGupta, former VP of series production for all MTV series and pilots on the West Coast, has been named SVP of production for MTV Networks’ Entertainment Group. SenGupta had been in her prior post since 2006, and had previously served as VP of the department since 1995.

Chris McCloskey has been named VP, communications of NBC Universal Sports & Olympics. McCloskey formerly was EVP, communications, of the Arena Football League, and a veteran of the NFL communications department. In a related move, Adam Freifeld, director of communications at NBC Sports, has been named senior director of NBC Universal Sports & Olympics.

Station Switches

Two of Journal Broadcast Group’s top execs plan to retire at the end of this year. Vice Chairman/CEO Doug Kiel and Senior VP/CFO Ron Kurtis each will depart the company on Dec. 27. Kiel plans to launch his own company.

Debbi Thompson was promoted to VP/GM at WSAV Savannah, a Media General-owned NBC affiliate. She joined the station as general sales manager in 2005.

Christopher Sehring has been named GM of Hoak’s ABC affiliate KSFY Sioux Falls, S.D., and its satellite stations KABY Aberdeen, S.D., and KPRY Pierre, S.D., reports TVNewscheck.

Journalism Jumps

Shake-ups at CNN: Mark Nelson, who has overseen CNN Productions since 2005, is departing, and Scott Matthews is leaving his position as head of live programming to head up a combined CNN Productions and investigative unit, reports TVNewser. Jody Gottlieb, CNN Productions’ executive director, also is leaving. Meanwhile, Soledad O’Brien’s In America franchise will expand in 2010. That unit will add more than 12 jobs, continues TVNewser, and will be headed by Bart Feder, SVP of current programming.

Kathy Fountain, longtime anchor at Fox’s WTVT Tampa, Fla., is leaving the station at the end of the year to become a full-time counselor, reports the Tampa Tribune’s Eric Deggans. While she was working at the station, Fountain earned a masters degree in counseling and started a support group for women with fertility issues. She’s been in TV journalism for 30 years and at WTVT for 24. Her husband, Frank Robertson, retired from the station in June after 20 years on air.

KKTV Colorado Springs’ long-time sports director, John Owens, will end his role at the station in December, although he will keep contributing segments to the stations, reports the Colorado Springs Gazette. His last regular night on the air will be December 11.

Kerri Cavanaugh, senior executive producer for Scripps’ ABC affiliate WFTS Tampa, has been named news director of Tribune-owned CW affiliate WSFL, reports the Sun Sentinel. She begins her new assignment Nov. 23. Cavanaugh was at WFTS for 11 years, where she won the Edward R. Murrow Award for breaking news. Prior to that, Cavanaugh was news producer and editor for Freedom’s CBS affiliate WPEC West Palm Beach.

Corrie Harding has been named executive news director at Belo’s NBC affiliate WCNC Charlotte, N.C., effective Nov. 30, reports TV Newscheck. Harding comes to WCNC from Cox-owned NBC affiliate WPXI Pittsburgh, where he had been news director since 2005. Prior to that, Harding worked at WBNS Columbus, Ohio, KXAS Dallas-Fort Worth and WOIO-WUAB Cleveland.

Grover Tadlock has been named news director at Gray’s NBC affiliate WSAZ Huntington, W.Va., reports TV Newscheck. Tadlock is 1985 graduate of Marshall University with a degree in broadcast journalism. He began his career with WSAZ as a photographer in 1997.  He was promoted to director of photography in 2005 and managing editor in 2007.

Sportscaster Butch Stearns has been let go from Fox-owned WFXT, reported the Boston Herald, leaving the station with one sports producer and one reporter.

D.C. Denizens

Howard Gantman has been named MPAA’s VP, corporate communications, replacing Angela Belden Martinez, who has been named senior adviser, director of outreach for economic development at the U.S. Department of Commerce. Elizabeth Kaltman, VP, corporate communications, remains with the MPAA in Los Angeles. Gantman has been the MPAA’s senior communications consultant since August. Previously, he was Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s staff director of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies where he was responsible for overseeing President Obama’s swearing-in ceremony. He was also staff director of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee and was Feinstein’s communications director for nine years.

Awards

NBC U Entertainment Chairman Jeff Gaspin, TV show creator David E. Kelley, Group M Global CEO Irwin Gotlieb and syndicated TV personality Judge Judy Sheindlin have been selected by the National Association of Television Program Executives (NATPE) to be honored at the 7th Annual Brandon Tartikoff Legacy Awards. The award ceremony will take place on Jan. 25 at the NATPE 2010 Market & Conference in Las Vegas. The Brandon Tartikoff Legacy Awards celebration is sponsored by Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and NBC Universal. The honorees were selected by NATPE’s Executive Committee.

Actress Candace Bergen, Saturday Night Live announcer Don Prdo and comedy duo Tom and Dick Smothers are among the TV personalities who will be inducted into the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame early next year. Also receiving the honor are art director Charles Lisanby, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and game show creator Bob Stewart. All of the inductees will be honored at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles Jan. 20.

Hasbro Studios President Stephen J. Davis and his family will be recognized by children’s charity First Star at the organization’s Sixth Annual Celebration for Children’s Rights. This year’s event will take place Sunday, November 15, at the Wilshire Ebell in Los Angeles. Davis shares the honor with his wife Peggy and their children Hannah, Will and Cadence Davis. Others being recognized are Jeff Bleich, Former-Special Counsel to the President of the United States and Partner at Munger Tolles and Olson, LLP; Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Actor, Musician and CEO and Founder of The Ludacris Foundation; Melissa Helmbrecht, Chair and CEO of SplashLife, Inc.; and Louise Horvitz, MSW. Psy.D. First Star is a preeminent national non-profit which improves the lives of America’s abused and neglected children. For information on tickets and sponsorships contact Robin Winston at robin@lpaevents.com .

CBS’s Steve Kroft has been named the 2010 Paul White Award winner by The Radio Television Digital News Association (formerly The Radio and Television News Directors Association), reports TVNewser. Kroft will receive the award April 12 in Las Vegas, during the RTDNA annual convention.

Obits

Nick Counter, recently retired as chief of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, died Friday at West Hills Hospital in Woodland Hills. He was 69. The cause of death was not available. Counter had stepped down as the AMPTP president in March after 27 years as the chief negotiator for the studios in labor negotiations. He was succeeded by longtime VP Carol Lombardini, who was recently promoted to the presidency.

Cable and broadcast pioneer Peter Storer, 81, died Nov. 8 of cardiovascular disease at his home in Saratoga, Wyoming.  Storer, whose father was pioneering broadcaster George Storer, built Storer Communications from a broadcast group into the fourth largest MSO at the time. Survivors include brothers Jim and Robert, and four children, Leslie, Elizabeth, Linda and Peter Jr., who is president and founder of TV program management software company StorerTV. Services are scheduled for Nov. 14 in Saratoga. In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions be made to the Platte Valley Community Center, the Corbett Medical  Center, both of Saratoga, or Trout Unlimited.

Former WITI anchor Melodie Wilson Oldenburg, 59, lost her very public fight to breast cancer on Monday, Nov. 9, at her home in River Hills, Wisc., surrounded by family, reports the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel. Her family asks that memorials go to the organization she founded, After Breast Cancer Diagnosis: ABCD, 6737 W. Washington St., Suite 3265, West Allis, WI 53214. The organization’s Web site is www.abcdbreastcancersupport.org.

Emmy-winning comedy writer Sultan Pepper, who worked on The Ben Stiller Show and Mad TV, died unexpectedly on Oct. 20 in Murrieta, Calif., reports The Hollywood Reporter. She was 47. She’s survived by her parents, Teresa and Jack Pepper. A private memorial is being planned.

Burleigh Hines, a reporter at CBS-owned WBBM Chicago for more than 25 years, passed away Sunday, Nov. 8, at 77, reported the station’s Web site. Hines was honored in 2002 with a lifetime achievement award for his work. Burleigh retired in 2001, and contributed to the station until mid-2002. He had been living in California. Hines is survived by his wife, Denise, six children and many grandchildren.

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