Fates & Fortunes Round-Up: May 19 – June 1, 2010

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As we return from a long and glorious weekend, Fates is thrilled to welcome Jon Lafayette, formerly one of our toughest competitors, as B&C’s new business editor working out of the Windy City.  Jon’s a vet and we’re lucky to have him. He can be reached at jlafayette@nbmedia.com.

Follow Fates on Twitter @BCFates or me personally @PaigeA. Forward fates to me at BCFates@gmail.com or at palbiniak@gmail.com.

BIG KAHUNAS

Bright House Networks chairmanBob Miron will retire at the end of the year after leading the cable operator and its predecessor companies for more than 35 years, reports Multichannel News. Bob’s son, Steve, currently CEO of Bright House Networks, will become chairman, while Nomi Bergman, Bob’s daughter, remains as its president. Bob will continue to be a board member of Discovery Communications.

Miron has been with Bright House Networks and its predecessor companies since their infancy, joining in 1966 and assuming the CEO role in 1974. Prior to that, he worked in various positions within Newhouse Broadcasting since starting his career in 1958 after his graduation from Syracuse University, where he now sits on the board of trustees.

He has been on the board and executive committee of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association since the early 1980s, and was the cable organization’s chairman in 1988-89 and 1995-96.

He’s currently chairman of C-SPAN and has been a past chairman of Cable in the Classroom and a member of CableLabs’ executive committee for more than 20 years. Miron also serves as vice chairman of the Cable Center in Denver. He is also a past board and executive committee member of the Walter Kaitz Foundation.

He has been inducted into both the Cable Hall of Fame and the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame. He is a past winner of Cable’s Vanguard Award for Leadership, as well as CTAM’s Grand TAM Award, and the ACC’s President’s Award.

Fox Sports Media Group and senior DirecTV executiveEric Shanks was named president of Fox Sports, while founding Fox Sports executive Ed Goren was elevated to vice chair. Shanks, 38, is believed to be the youngest president ever of a broadcast network sports division.

Shanks succeeds David Hill, Fox Sports Chairman and CEO, and Goren as Fox Sports’ third president.  He joined Fox Sports in 1994 as a broadcast associate, but had been at satellite TV firm DirecTV since 2004. Shanks has been EVP of DirecTV Entertainment since 2006. Goren, 65, has more than 40 years of experience and programming and production and has won nearly 50 Emmys.

PROGRAMMING PROSPECTS

Neal Tiles, president of cable network G4, has extended his deal through 2013.

Les Crystal, president of MacNeil/Lehrer Productions, will retire effective Aug. 31, but will remain a senior advisor to the company through the end of this year. Crystal joined the news operation in 1983 after a 20-year career at NBC News, including as executive producer of Nightly News and president of the division. While at MacNeil/Lehrer, he expanded the half-hour MacNeil/Lehrer Report to an hour and shepherded it to numerous Emmys and a Peabody award, as well as helping to triple funding for the show to $7 million annually, according to the company. He was named president of MacNeil/Lehrer Productions in 2005.

Susan Brooks joined production company FishBowl Worldwide Media as general counsel and EVP of business affairs, coming over from William Morris Agency where she was worldwide head of television business affairs and worked closely with FishBowl President/CEO Bruce Gersh.

Laura Sillars has been named SVP of lifestyle programming for Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movie Channel, which are owned and operated by Crown Media Holdings, Inc.  She’ll be based in New York City.  Sillars was most recently VP of original programming for Scripps’ HGTV. Prior to that, she was a producer on Oprah, and an associate producer at ABC’s Good Morning America.

Heather Olander has been named VP of programming and development for CBS Television Distribution. She joins from MTV where she was VP of original series development and current programming.  Prior to that, Olander was director of alternative series development at Carsey Werner Mandabach as Director of Alternative Series Development

Paula Abdul, formerly of American Idol, will executive produce and serve as lead judge and mentor on CBS’ new reality entry, Got to Dance, based on the British hit from Elisabeth Murdoch’s Shine Group and Reveille.

STATION SWITCHES

WSB Atlanta VP/General Manager Bill Hoffman was named new chairman of the ABC affiliates board, succeeding McGraw-Hill Broadcast President Darrell Brown.

Likewise, Raycom Executive VP/COO Wayne Daugherty was named chairman of the CBS’ affiliates board, succeeding Nexstar’s Tim  Busch. Daugherty previously was vice chair.

Donna Wilson has been named VP/general manager at Scripps-owned KJRH Tulsa. She replaces Mike Vrabac, who shifted to KSHB Kansas City in March. She departs WFTS Tampa and begins in Tulsa June 16. Wilson, 44, has been with Scripps since 2002.

Jim Berman was named GM of Hoak Media’s ABC affiliate KSFY Sioux Falls, S.D.

Paula Peden was named COO of Spanish-language TV station group Una Vez Mas, a portfolio company of private equity firm Alta Communications. Prior to this, Peden was SVP of Univision’s Central Region. She has more than 20 years of broadcast experience.

Pam Alfa was promoted to local sales manager at CBS’ KCBS Los Angeles, while Leslie Kean was named research director at both KCBS and KCAL. Previously, Alfa was an account exec at the station, and before that, she spent 11 years with Blair Television, including the last six as VP/sales manager. Keane previously was research director at NBC’s WTHR Indianapolis since 2009; VP, programming and research at Fox’s KMSP/WFTC Minneapolis from 2003-09; and researcher at Fox’s LA duopoly, KTTV/KCOP, from 1998-2003. Keane also was research director at Fox’s KRIV Houston from 1996-98.

 JOURNALISM JUMPS

Changes keep coming atop The Hollywood Reporter, with Kim Masters being named editor at large. Masters comes to THR from The Daily Beast and National Public Radio, where she will continue to host syndicated weekly radio program The Business. Masters is the first hire of THR’s new editorial director, Janice Min, formerly of US Weekly. Masters’ work also has appeared in Vanity Fair, Time, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe and The Philadelphia Inquirer. She’s the author of “The Keys to the Kingdom: The Rise of Michael Eisner and the Fall of Everybody Else” and co-author with Nancy Griffin of “Hit & Run: How Jon Peters and Peter Guber Took Sony for a Ride in Hollywood.” THR was purchased in December by e5 Global Media, which has been making executive and employee changes ever since.

Politico’s Eamon Javers is returning to CNBC, where he was once an on-air correspondent, as a political reporter covering lobbying and regulatory affairs. He’s the author of the book Broker, Trader, Lawyer, Spy: The Secret World of Corporate Espionage. Javers has appeared as an analyst on all four major broadcast networks, all of the cable news networks, PBS’ News Hour, the BBC and NPR. He’s also a regular panelist on PBS’ Washington Week in Review with Gwen Ifill. Prior to writing for Politico.com, Javers was a Washington correspondent for Business Week. He’s also written for Fortune, Money, Congressional Quarterly and Slate.com. He began his career at The Hill.

Ryan Osborn has been promoted to director of social media at NBC News, a new position at the division. Osborn has been at NBC News since 2002, when he joined as part of the Page Program and then worked his way up to producer at The Today Show.
Fanchon Stinger has been named an anchor at Tribune-owned Fox affiliate WXIN Indianapolis. Stinger comes to the station from Fox-owned WJBK Detroit. Starting in July, she’ll anchor the 10 p.m. newscast, and then add 5 p.m. in September.

Two veteran TV journalists – crime reporter Dave Statter and reporter/anchor Audrey Barnes — have taken buyouts offers from Gannett-owned NBC affiliate WUSA Washington, D.C. Both are becoming media consultants.

Bob Mayer, anchor at NBC-owned WTVJ Miami, is retiring on July 1. Mayer’s contract expired in April, and while the station offered to renew his deal, he decided retirement would be more lucrative while the station was still owned by General Electric. Comcast is in the process of acquiring NBC and the deal is expected to be final by the end of this year.

Marty Levin, anchor at NBC-owned KNSD San Diego, is retiring after more than 30 years on the air in San Diego. Mark Mullen, most recently a correspondent for ABC News, replaces him.

Jeff Goldblatt, lead anchor at Fox-owned WFLD Chicago, is leaving the station after his hiring failed to boost the station’s ratings, blogs Robert Feder.  In an unrelated move, recently released WFLD reporter Nancy Loo has been hired by Tribune-owned WGN. Goldblatt previously was at Fox News Channel.

Robyne Robinson departed her anchor post at KMSP Minneapolis-St. Paul to run for lieutenant governor, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported. The move raised questions as Robinson reported on the governor’s race the night before she announced she was going to throw her own hat into the ring.

CORPORATE CHANGES

Stephanie Brom has been promoted to SVP/managing director of Petry Network, a division of Petry Media Corporation. Previously, she was SVP, domestic, for Petry Network.  Brom began her TV career as a sales assistant at Blair Television, which merged with Petry in 1995.

John Arianas, VP of brand sales at MTV, has joined Current Media as VP of East Coast sales based in New York.

Jason Brist has been promoted to SVP of ad sales for Outdoor Channel’s Central Region, based in Chicago. Brist has been at the channel since 2007 as VP of ad sales.

MULTIPLATFORM MOVES

Chad Harris has been promoted to SVP of integrated marketing and new media for the Hallmark Channel and the Hallmark Movie Channel, which are owned and operated by Crown Media Holdings.  Harris was formerly VP of special projects and new media for Hallmark Channels.

DC DENIZENS

Free Press Policy Director Ben Scott has been named policy advisor for innovation at the State Department. Free Press’ policy team, which is pushing hard against the Comcast/NBCU merger and for network neutrality, will now be headed by Research Director Derek Turner.

ASSOCIATIONS

Steve Miron CEO of Bright House Networks, and Leo Brennan, COO of Cox Communications each have been named to the board of directors of the CTAM Educational Foundation.

INTERNATIONAL

George Chien, VP, international networks, for Sony Pictures Television, has been promoted to SVP, international networks, Asia Pacific. Chien will co-manage Sony’s Premium Movie Partnership, a venture in Australia with 20th Century Fox, NBC Universal, Paramount, and Liberty Media; and TV1 Sci Fi, a joint venture with NBC Universal and CBS Studios International. He also oversees SPT’s TV nets in Asia, and helps manage its Indian channels.

IN MEMORIAM

Former CBS and Westinghouse chairman and CEO Michael H. Jordan, 73, passed away in Boston after a long battle with cancer.

TV host and author Art Linkletter, 97, died Wednesday, May 26, at his home in Los Angeles of natural causes. Linkletter was known largely for hosting People Are Funny and House Party in the 1950s and ’60s, highlighting the humor of ordinary folks.  Art Linkletter’s House Party is one of television’s longest-running variety shows. It debuted on radio in 1944 and ran on CBS from 1952 to 1969. A popular segment on the show, “Kids Say The Darndest Things,” spawned the TV show of the same name, headlined by Bill Cosby and featuring appearances by Linkletter as co-host. The prime time People Are Funny began on radio in 1942 and ran on TV from 1954 to 1961.

Actor Dennis Hopper, 74, best known for directing and starring in the 1969 cult classic Easy Rider and most recently star of Starz’ Crash, died on Saturday, May 29, from complications of prostate cancer. He is survived by four children.

Actor Gary Coleman, 42, died on Friday, May 28, after suffering a brain hemorrhage. Coleman, who had a long history of health problems and drug abuse, was best known for starring in the sitcom Diff’rent Strokes, but also frequently made guest appearances on various reality and other shows.

Martin Cohan, who created Who’s the Boss? and Silver Spoons, died May 19 in Pacific Palisades, Calif., of complications from large cell lymphoma. He was 77. Cohan also wrote for such iconic comedies as All in the Family, The Odd Couple, The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Bob Newhart Show. Survivors include his wife, Dawn, a son and a daughter, two stepchildren, a step-grandson, and a sister.

Former FCC official Larry F. Darby, 69 died May 18 at his home in Washington after a heart attack. He served as a senior economist at the White House, chief economist at the FCC and head of the agency’s Common Carrier Bureau before heading into the private sector. He was VP of corporate finance at Shearson Lehman Brothers, and later formed a telecommunications consultancy. He’s survived by his second wife, Walda Roseman; two sons from his first marriage, Michael Darby of Cupertino, Calif., and John David “J.D.” Darby of Silver Spring; a stepson, Erik Roseman of Bellport, N.Y.; two sisters; and five grandchildren.

Former Denver television weatherman Warren Chandler has died at the age of 83. He spent almost 40 years on local radio and TV, mostly at KMGH. Chandler was a Denver native who was born in the city on June 6, 1926. He’s survived by his wife, Loni, a son and daughter, four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Dave Wallace, 62, formerly a weatherman at KSWO Lawton, Okla., died Sunday, May 30, of accidental drowning.

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