Fates & Fortunes Round-Up: June 7 – June 18, 2010

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The annual PromaxBDA convention on marketing and promotion takes place next week at the L.A. Live complex, and just in time for the show, the association has announced a new award: the Ron Scalera Rocket Award, which will recognize a producer or marketer new to the craft who’s already making a mark in the industry. Scalera, 49, passed away suddenly in April, leaving behind his wife, Elizabeth, and two children, Rachael and Michael.

I’m not sure it’s connected, but just in time for Promax, several of TV’s top PR professionals earned promotions: Warner Bros.’ Scott Rowe and Tammy Golihew each were promoted, while The CW’s Paul McGuire moved over to Rowe’s spot at WB and Paul Hewitt succeeded McGuire at The CW. Fox’s Joe Earley was promoted to president of marketing and promotion, while Lauren Kapp was named VP at NBC News.

All those moves and many more took place over the last two weeks so let’s get to it. Follow Fates on Twitter @BCFates or me personally @PaigeA. Forward fates to me at BCFates@gmail.com or at palbiniak@gmail.com.

BIG KAHUNAS

Tom Cosgrove has been named president/GM of Discovery Communications, Sony Corp. and IMAX’s new 3D network, slated to bow in 2011. Cosgrove has been EVP/COO for Discovery Channel.

Jason Klarman, general manager of women-focused Oxygen Media, has been upped to president of the NBC Universal-owned cable property. The move follows a similar promotion for Frances Berwick, Klarman’s former colleague at Bravo, who was named president of Bravo Media last week. Klarman was named GM of Oxygen Media in 2008 following its acquisition by NBCU the previous year.

PROGRAMMING PROSPECTS

Executive change continues to be the norm at Oprah Winfrey’s upcoming OWN as the cable network preps to launch next year, reports the Hollywood Reporter. John McDonald, former MTV Networks programming vet who worked with CEO Christina Norman, was named COO and EVP of programming and digital. Glenn Kaino, former president and CEO of Uber.com, joined OWN Digital as SVP of creative. Rod Aissa and Michele Dix each have been named SVPs of primetime programming and development. Aissa comes to OWN from Ashton Kutcher’s Katalyst Media, while Dix has been a consultant at OWN for several months. She joins from MTV Networks Music Group where she was SVP of music and talent development. Departing are Jamila Hunter, head of programming; Liz Dolan, chief marketing officer; and Greg Neal, marketing executive.

Wonya Lucas has been named Discovery and Science Channel’s EVP/COO. Previously, she was CMO for Discovery Communications. Lucas takes over from Tom Cosgrove (see above), who has been named CEO of Discovery, Sony and IMAX’s new 3D network. Prior to joining Discovery, Lucas worked in marketing at The Weather Channel and Turner Broadcasting. She’s also held brand management positions at Coca-Cola and Clorox.

Chris Mansolillo has been promoted to President of Comcast-owned ExerciseTV. He previously was the network’s GM, after joining in March 2006. Prior to that, he was at Warner Bros. TV Group.

Becky Clements, veteran of Brillstein Entertainment Partners TV, is being tapped as president of an as-yet-unnamed production company from Shawn Levy and Marty Adelstein, reports Deadline.com. It’s expected to be based at 20th Century Fox TV. The new company will focus on half-hour comedies and one-hour comedic dramas, capitalizing on Levy’s track record directing and producing comedy features, including the Night at the Museum, the Cheaper by the Dozen franchises, Just Married, What Happens In Vegas and, most recently, Date Night.

Ross Weintraub and Adam Greener each were promoted at 3 Ball Productions/Eyeworks USA. COO Weintraub added managing director to his title, while Greener was promoted to chief creative officer. 3 Ball/Eyeworks, run by JD Roth and Todd Nelson, produces such reality shows as The Biggest Loser and The Pick-Up Artist and upcoming programs Master Chef for Fox and Obese for ABC.

Vernon Sanders has been promoted to EVP of current programming at NBC and Universal Media Studios where he will head a reinstated current department. Sanders returned to NBC Universal in June 2009 as SVP of drama programming. In an earlier stint at the studio, Sanders was SVP of comedy series, and VP of comedy programming from 2004-07. He joined Universal as executive director of comedy programming in December 2002, and was named VP of comedy programming at Universal Network Television in September 2003. He came to Universal from Paul Reiser’s Nuance Productions, where he was VP of TV development from 1999-2002. Prior to that, he was director of TV development from 1996-98 at Winder Dancer Productions. He got his start in TV as an assistant at Wind Dancer in 1994.

Cori Abraham was named to the newly created position of SVP of development at Oxygen Media. Abraham has been VP of development at Bravo for the past six years. Prior to working at Bravo, Abraham was director of development and EP at VH1.

Terry Murphy has been promoted to executive producer of Sony’s The Nate Berkus Show, while Zev Shalev has decided to transition to a development role and become an executive consultant. Previously, the two were co-executive producers.

Meredith Ahr has been promoted to SVP of alternative programming and development at NBC.  Ahr joined the network in 2001. Louis Boyd has been promoted to VP of alternative programming at CBS. Boyd succeeds Chris Carlson, who left CBS to become an EP on Undercover Boss.

David Gross and Angela Solis each have been hired at reality-TV producer Tijuana Entertainment, while Wally Parks was promoted to VP of production. Gross was named SVP of development, while Solis will be the executive in charge of production. Gross comes to Tijuana from Lifetime where he was VP of reality programming. Solis comes from 51Minds Entertainment, and also has worked for VH1 Production Management and Fremantle Media.

STATION SWITCHES

Acme Communications has reorganized its front office and cut significant station staff a few weeks after announcing a shared services arrangement with LIN Media in multiple markets.

President/COO and co-founder Doug Gealy will become president and CEO of Acme. Stan Gill, VP/GM of Acme’s KWBQ-KASY duopoly in Albuquerque-Santa Fe, will become COO while retaining oversight of the New Mexico pair.  WBDT Dayton VP/General Manager John Hannon moves up to corporate EVP.

Acme will significantly pare the rest of its corporate staff. Effective mid-July 2010, Tom Allen, a co-founder of the company and EVP/CFO, will transition into a consulting role, and will assist Gealy in finding “appropriate exit paths” for the company. Allen will continue to serve on the Acme board of directors.

Co-founder/Chairman/CEO Jamie Kellner will continue to serve as chairman.

Acme owns six stations and has been looking to sell for some time.

 JOURNALISM JUMPS

Fox News has signed a multi-year contract extension with its 10 p.m. anchor, Greta Van Susteren,The New York Times‘ Brian Stelter reports, ending rumors that Glenn Beck or Megyn Kelly could take over the slot. Meanwhile, MSNBC will give Lawrence O’Donnell, a network contributor since 1996, his own primetime show in the 10 p.m. hour where reruns of Countdown with Keith Olbermann have aired.

Jen Yuille, Katie Couric’s political producer for Katie Couric for the past three years, is leaving CBS News to become head of marketing communications and public affairs at Silicon Valley startup, Polyvore, a social shopping site led by Google and Yahoo veterans, reports Politico’s Mike Allen.

Hugo Balta is WCBS New York’s new managing editor. Balta has been VP of news at Telemundo’s New York station for the past six years. Prior to that, he was a producer at WNBC and senior producer at MSNBC. He’s also VP of broadcasting for the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

Michelle Gielan is departing her post at CBS News and as anchor of CBS Morning News and Up to the Minute, reports TVNewser, after being replaced by Betty Nguyen, formerly of CNN who CBS hired in March to take over both shows.

Kevin L.J. Davis is leaving TheWrap.com to become the first CEO of the Investigative News Network, a collaboration of nonprofit news organizations producing public-service journalism. The network, which just landed a Knight Foundation grant, launched last year.

Renan Cardona is the new sports anchor for Estrella TV’s leading local news program, Noticias 62 (News 62). He joins lead anchor and news director Jesus Javier on the program, which airs daily at noon and 9 p.m. PT on Liberman’s KRCA Los Angeles. Cardona comes to Liberman and KRCA from Telefutura, where he was the sports anchor on the Spanish-language network’s daily sports news show Contacto Deportivo.

Sam Flood has been named executive producer of NBC Sports, effective immediately. He replaces David Neal, executive producer since 2005, who is exiting to form his own entertainment production company, according to NBC.  Flood has been coordinating producer at NBC Sports since 2005 and started at the company as an Olympics researcher in 1986.

Anne Linaberger, assistant news director at KDKA Pittsburgh, is taking over as news director. She succeeds Coleen Marren, who arrived at the CBS O&O last July and left nine months later to become news director at WTIC, the Fox affiliate in Hartford, Conn. Linaberger had been serving as interim news director since Marren’s departure.

Anchor Christina Medina’s contract was not renewed at  KCTV Kansas City, and she is no longer at the station.

Good Day Chicago anchor/reporter Kori Chambers and Good Day Chicago general assignment reporter Anita Padilla have re-signed multi-year contracts at Fox-owned WFLD Chicago.

After his contract was not renewed, anchor Michael Hill of WGNO New Orleans is departing the station to form his own media company, Michael Hill Media, reports the New Orleans Times Picayune.

Hailey Frances is the new anchor at Fox affiliate WXMI Grand Rapids, joining Christian Frank each night. She’ll also report for the 6 p.m. newscast. Frances comes to WXMI from KIAH Houston where she was a reporter and a fill-in anchor. Prior to that, she was a reporter and morning news anchor at WCAV Charlottesville, Va. Frances replaces anchor Michele DeSelms, who had anchored the station’s 10 p.m. news since it debuted in January 1999. DeSelms departed that post in March to spend more time with her family, but she still co-anchors the 6 p.m. news with Frank.

Brady Smith has been named weekend evening anchor at Quincy Newspapers’ NBC affiliate KWWL Waterloo, Iowa. He replaces Bob Waters, who is now co-anchoring Today in Iowa and the News at Noon.

KABC Los Angeles’ Gene Gleeson is retiring after 50 years in broadcasting.

CORPORATE CHANGES

Garen van de Beek has been promoted to EVP/creative director of the CBS Marketing Group, succeeding the aforementioned Ron Scalera.  Van de Beek has been SVP of on-air advertising and promotion. Following that move, Lori Shefa has been promoted to SVP of on-air promotion. Before joining the network, Van de Beek spent nine years working in creative services for Eye O&Os in Houston and Los Angeles. Shefa joined CBS in 1997 as director of affiliate on-air promotion, and was promoted to VP in 2004.

Rita Ferro has been promoted to EVP of Disney media sales and marketing, leading the sales and marketing teams across the Walt Disney Company’s media platforms, including Disney Channel, Disney XD, Playhouse Disney and more than 20 Disney online properties. Ferro is relocating to New York for the job from Miami, where she’s worked in Disney and ESPN’s Latin American businesses since 1997. She succeeds Tricia Wilber who was recently named the Walt Disney Co.’s CMO for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

John Miller, CMO of NBC Universal Television Group, is stepping down from his post at the end of the year, reports Deadline.com. He’s been in that post since May 2004, overseeing marketing and cross-promotion for all 17 of NBC UTG’s entertainment divisions. Miller joined NBC in 1982 and will likely stay on at the company in another capacity.

Mediaweek editor-in-chief Michael Burgi is leaving the publication to become VP of communications at Canoe Ventures, the cable industry’s interactive effort. Executive editor Jim Cooper is expected to move up to editor-in-chief.

John Russo has been named director of sales at Halogen, part of the Inspiration Networks. He joins from the ABC and Fox affiliates in Springfield, Mass., where he was a sales manager. Prior to that, Russo was president and founder of TV rep firm National Television Sales.

David Tardio has been promoted to director of advertising sales at Discovery Networks U.S. Hispanic Group, including Discovery en Espanol and Discovery Familia. Tardio joined the U.S. Hispanic team in 2006 as a sales manager. Prior to joining Discovery, Tardio held key sales positions with Univision, Azteca America, Engage Latin America and Lumina Americas in New York City.

Amelia Stewart has been named VP of media relations and corporate communications at Comcast Entertainment Group, while John Rizzotti was named consumer PR director at E! Entertainment Television.  Stewart joined Comcast Entertainment Group in 2006 as executive director of corporate communications. Prior to that, she was a manager of publicity at Discovery Communications. Rizzotti joined E! in 2006. Before that, he was a senior  publicist at Twentieth Television.

Joan Gundlach has been named EVP of distribution for Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movie Channel, both of which are owned and operated by Crown Media Holdings. She’ll be based in Chicago. Gundlach comes to Hallmark from A&E. where she spent 18 years, most recently as SVP of distribution. Prior to that, she was GM for Continental Cablevision in Chicago.

MULTIPLATFORM MOVES

MySpace co-president Jason Hirschhorn is leaving the company after less than six months at the helm and more than a year at the company, reports TechCrunch. Hirschhorn came to News Corp.’s struggling MySpace after stints at MTV Networks and Sling Media. Prior to becoming co-president, he was chief product officer. Hirschhorn will move back to New York from Los Angeles. Mike Jones, who served as co-president with Hirschhorn, will remain in his post. Jon Miller, News Corp.’s chief digital officer, said “there are no plans to bring in additional management,” in a statement. Hirschhorn is the latest executive to depart MySpace after former Facebook exec Owen Van Natta quit after less than a year at the company, following the departure of co-founder Chris DeWolfe.

ASSOCIATIONS

Norma Provencio Pichardo is the new executive director of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation, the TV Academy’s charitable arm. Previously, she was executive director of non-profit Workplace Hollywood, which helps people from underrepresented communities in Los Angeles effectively compete for opportunities in entertainment. Previously, she was a vice president at the Emma L. Bowen Foundation. Prior to that, she was the CFO for the Fulfillment Fund.

Scott Roskowski has been named director of business development at the Television Bureau of Advertising, a new position. Roskowski currently is VP of U.S. operations at Wild TV, a Canadian outdoor television network. Prior to his tenure at Wild TV, Roskowski spent nearly 12 years in several managerial positions at Univision Communications, including: vice president, national sales; national sales, manager-strategic initiatives; and director of national sales, new business. He began his broadcast career in national sales as an account executive for Blair Television.

AWARDS

Nearly 60 news organizations received nearly 90 awards at this year’s Edward R. Murrow Awards for excellence in electronic journalism.

NBC News won for overall excellence in the network category, and also picked up awards for best breaking news coverage, best hard news reporting and best newscast.

CBS picked up four awards as well for video feature reporting, documentary, news series, and investigative reporting. ABC collected one award for continuing coverage and co-owned ESPN another for sport reporting. CNN took home one award, for best TV network Website, while MSNBC won for best writing and Global TV for best use of video.

On the station side, KHOU had already been named best overall large-market station but picked up another for best documentary. KARE Minneapolis was also a double winner, for feature reporting and best newscast.

The other large market awards were pretty well distributed geographically, from best breaking news coverage for WJLA Washington to investigative reporting for KMGH Denver to continuing coverage for WXIA/WATL Atlanta.
Click here for a complete list of the winners.

Gwen Ifill, moderator of PBS’ Washington Week and correspondent for PBS’ NewsHour, is the recipient of the 17th Fred Friendly First Amendment Award.

IN MEMORIAM

Robert J. Wussler, a senior executive for the CBS news and sports divisions and president of the CBS Television Network in the 1970s, and later the top aide to Ted Turner in the expansion of his cable TV operations, died June 5 at his home in Westport, Conn. He was 73. He is survived by six children and six grandchildren.

Longtime broadcaster David Brangan, 64, died on Saturday, June 12, in Baton Rouge, La., after a short battle with cancer, reports TVNewscheck. Brangan started his career in 1968 as a broadcast buyer in Detroit, and later switched to advertising sales as a rep for MMT and Seltel. In 1998, he became GM of KECY Yuma. In 2000, he and his family moved to Baton Rouge where he was ran WVLA-WGMB. Brangan is survived by his wife, Marianne; three children; and three grandchildren.

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