Exec changes at OWN, Tribune and Reveille

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Lots of exec changes this week.

Today’s big news is that Christina Norman is out at OWN and Peter Liguori is in, at least on an interim basis. If Liguori’s tenure at News Corp.’s FX is any indicator, that means we will no longer be treated to reality shows starring friends of Oprah and instead will be watching scripted shows full of sex and violence a la Nip/Tuck and Rescue Me. And that will be a good thing, in my book. While everyone said that Oprah: Behind the Scenes was must-watch (as someone said to me: “those producers are definitely not living their best lives”), Oprah viewers apparently really want to see Oprah and not just stuff Oprah might watch if she actually had time to watch TV.

Norman’s departure comes just one day after her former boss, Judy McGrath, announced that she will be ending her tenure as CEO of MTV Networks. Rumor had it that McGrath might be taking over for Norman, but OWN spokespersons promptly quashed that, much like they quashed rumors that Terry Wood, CTD’s former president of programming, would be joining the network.

Eddy Hartenstein, publisher and CEO of the Los Angeles Times and former vice chairman of the DirecTV Group, finally won out over the gang of four executive council that had been running Tribune, and was named the company’s president and CEO today. He will do that while retaining his position at the LA Times. Hartenstein helped found and develop DirecTV, under the direction of Hughes Communications, in 1990, and ran the company until 2004, when News Corp. completed its acquisition of DirecTV. Hartenstein began his tenure at the Times in August 2008, and was named to Tribune’s executive council in October 2010. That council, which is now dissolved, included Don Liebentritt as chief restructuring officer, Nils Larsen as chief investment officer and chairman of Tribune Broadcasting, and Tony Hunter as president, publisher and CEO of Chicago Tribune Company.

Finally, Eden Gaha has been named president of Reveille, which is the production company that Ben Silverman built and Elisabeth Murdoch’s Shine bought. In February, Papa Murdoch’s News Corp. bought Shine, so Reveille is now owned by News Corp., hence all of the recent exec changes at the company. In any case, Gaha, who has been the showrunner of Celebrity Apprentice since 2006, will not run Donald Trump’s birther-based presidential campaign but will instead report to Shine Group Americas CEO Emiliano Calemzuk. The Australian-born Gaha has long been a lieutenant of reality maven Mark Burnett, working as a producer on Survivor, The Contender and Rock Star. Reveille’s managing director — Howard T. Owens, who Variety reports served as Silverman’s right-hand man — will depart the company next month. Variety also notes that Gaha is just the latest in a raft of appointments at Reveille, including Heather Schuster as SVP of creative affairs, Matt O’ Brien as VP of creative affairs, David Anderson as head of digital and David Benavente as senior production finance and administration VP.

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