The name game of choice in cable circles these days is who will replace new UPN President Dawn Tarnofsky-Ostroff as top programmer at the No. 1 cable network, Lifetime TV. One outside candidate is Barbara Fisher, currently president of network programming for Universal Studios. One insider: Kelley Goode Abugov, West Coast VP, programming, who has shepherded Lifetime series Any Day Now
and Strong Medicine. Lifetime CEO Carole Black is looking for background in drama-series and TV-movie development and production. But she's also big on a collaborative management style. Hollywood and network screamers need not apply.—J.M.H., J.S.
In a take-off on CNN's now famous "sexy" promo for Paula Zahn, MSNBC is hyping Hardball
host Chris Matthews this way: "Looking for someone who's tough, smart, oh yeah, and just a little sexy? Forget it!" The voiceover, read by Twisted Sister's Dee Snyder, proclaims: "He's not looking for compliments. He's looking to cut through the spin and show you every side of the story." It was MSNBC President Erik Sorenson's idea to "poke a little fun at CNN and also make a point about Chris."—A.R.
FCC Chairman Michael Powell formally notified Congress of the commission's reorganization plan Jan. 17 and, given the Feb. 1 expiration of a 15-day waiting period, is now free to implement the change. But that won't happen until the last week of February or first week of March, depending on when his staff completes briefings with members of Congress, say sources. The restructuring will combine the Mass Media and Cable Services Bureaus into one office, headed by Cable Bureau Chief Ken Ferree.—B.M.
As the result of a several-million-dollar deal with Pathfire, Warner Bros. will deliver syndicated programming to its 835 TV-station clients via Pathfire's satellite-delivered IP system. The Pathfire servers are being installed at the stations—at no cost to them—and the system is expected to be operational by the third quarter. Pathfire says the move will cut Warner Bros. distribution costs—it requires less bandwidth—and make it easier for stations to prep the content for air. Warner Bros. is the first syndicator to sign on with Pathfire.—K.K.
MGM has told the SEC it is for sale. In its annual report to the commission, the studio said, "We believe that MGM should, through business combinations or other strategic alternatives, either grow into or become part of a larger, vertically integrated organization, in order to maximize the value of MGM's assets." While there has been speculation that the company has talked to companies including Vivendi, USA, NBC and even Paxson, MGM stressed in its filing that no deal has been done nor is one a foregone conclusion. Separately, the company said a 10-year license agreement with Turner for close to 850 film and TV titles will expire gradually between 2002 and 2005.—S.M.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) threw his support behind aide Jonathan Adelstein last November for the remaining FCC seat, but it remains vacant. "I'm sure the president is not saying, 'Jonathan Adelstein, that jerk!' and holding up the nomination," said one Washington observer. "But, if you were George Bush, would you want to do anything for Tom Daschle right now?" Last week, Daschle derailed Bush's economic-stimulus package for a second time.—P.A.