Fates & Fortunes Weekly Round-Up: Dec. 4, 2009


It’s ad chief musical chairs! B&C’s Claire Atkinson reported on the eve of the Comcast-NBCU deal that Comcast Ad Sales President Dave Cassaro would oversee ad sales for the entire venture once the deal closes in a year or so (assuming regulatory approval). That will likely put NBCU ad chief Mike Pilot out of a job, although with some $9 billion in ad sales at play, it seems like there would be plenty of work for everyone over there.

This tough advertising economy finally got to ABC’s long time head of sales Mike Shaw – he’s stepping down, in another scoop reported by our lovely Miss Atkinson. Meanwhile, former Yahoo! exec Beth Lawrence is ready for a new challenge, becoming EVP of ad sales at NBC U’s Weather Channel.

As always, you can follow Fates on Twitter @BCFates or me personally @PaigeA if you are also willing to put up with tweets asking “where is the snow already? It’s time to go skiing!” Forward fates to me at BCFates@gmail.com or at palbiniak@gmail.com.

In the News

Veteran NBC Universal Television executive Rick Olshansky is leaving the company as part of a small restructuring of its West Coast operations, reported the LA Times’ Joe Flint, who yesterday made the bold move of throwing his own name in the hat as one of 2009’s most fascinating media people. Olshansky has been with NBC Universal for five years and most recently served as EVP of NBC Universal Television Network and Studio Business Affairs. The move has nothing to do with Thursday’s deal announcement, but is a restructuring in light of Jeff Gaspin’s promotion to chairman of NBC Universal Entertainment.

Mark Hollinger is replacing Greg Ricca as the head of Discovery Networks International, reports Media Week. Hollinger is moving over from his current position at Discovery as COO of Discovery Communications. Prior to that, he was the company’s president of global business and operations and general counsel.

Big Kahunas

Tribune COO Randy Michaels has been named CEO and elected to the board of directors. Sam Zell, who recommended the transition to Tribune’s board of directors, gives up the CEO title but remains Tribune’s chairman. Michaels was appointed Chief Operating Officer in May 2008, and has been part of the company’s senior executive team since Tribune’s going-private transaction in December 2007. Prior to becoming COO, Michaels served as executive VP and CEO of Tribune’s interactive and broadcast divisions. Tribune entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in December 2008 and isn’t expected to exit that status until early next summer.

Programming Prospects

Tom Montegmagno has been promoted to SVP of programming acquisition at Cablevision Systems. Previously, he was VP of programming at the company.

Jason Burns has been named SVP at Alta Loma Entertainment, Playboy Enterprises’ mainstream production division, while J.W. Starrett has been hired as director of development at the company. Alta Loma produces E!’s Girls Next Door and Kendra, and produced the feature film The House Bunny in conjunction with Sony and Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison Pictures.

Lizeth Aguirre has been appointed marketing director at Comcast SportsNet in San Francisco. She comes to the company from BBDO West. Prior to that, she was an account executive for Amazon Advertising.

Sports broadcaster Chip Caray is parting ways with TBS, reported B&C’s Alex Weprin last week. Caray had been TBS’ chief play-by-play man for Major League Baseball playoff games. He was also an occasional contributor to Atlanta Braves telecasts. He had been a ripe target for critics, who cited a number of factual errors and embellishments in some of his calls. Caray is the son of Atlanta Braves broadcaster Skip Caray (who died in 2008) and grandson of legendary Chicago Cubs broadcaster Harry Caray (who passed away in 1998). He had been a commentator for the Chicago Cubs from 1998-2004, before joining TBS to work with his father broadcasting Braves games.

Corporate Changes

Vicky Gregorian has joined Litton Entertainment as SVP of domestic syndication. She most recently was EVP, national sales manager, at Program Partners, and then an executive consultant for Trifecta Entertainment and Media.

Station Switches

Peter Gunn has been named local sales manager at Scripps’ ABC affiliate WEWS Cleveland. Gunn comes to WEWS from Scripps’ sister station WFTS Tampa Bay, Fla., where he has been an account executive for the past nine years.

Journalism Jumps

The Honorable Mark Rosenker, former National Transportation Safety Board Chairman, is joining NBC News and MSNBC as a contributor, reports TVNewser. Rosenker was sworn in as chairman in 2006 and was confirmed by the Senate as a member of the board in 2003. Currently, he’s on the Board of Directors of the Sequa Corporation and is President of the Transportation Safety Group.

Tom Hudson, formerly of Chicago-based First Business, has been named co-anchor of PBS’ Nightly Business Report, replacing retiring anchor Paul Kangas, reports the Chicago Trib’s Phil Rosenthal.

Anchor Penny Moss is departing WSAZ Charleston, W. Va., to become a full-time mom to her four children, including new-born Laurel, she announced on her blog.

Anchor Kendall Tenney is leaving KTUD Las Vegas to start his own PR firm, reports Steve Bornfeld on the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Mediaology blog.

Melissa Mack (pictured right) is joining CBS’s WBZ Boston as their weekend morning meteorologist. Mack comes to WBZ from Gannett’s WKYC Cleveland.

D.C. Denizens

Victoria Espinel has been confirmed by the Senate as the country’s first IP Enforcement Coordinator, in charge of coordinating the enforcement of intellectual property laws by various government agencies.


Gannett Broadcast President Dave Lougee has been named vice chairman of the Television Bureau of Advertising (TVB) board, while new CBS Television Stations President Peter Dunn and Cox Media Group VP of Sales Jane Williams have joined the board. NBC Local Media President of Platform Development and Commercial Operations Frank Comerford serves as chairman of the TVB Board. Mr. Lougee has been in his position at Gannett, overseeing the company’s 23 television stations, since July 2007. Dunn was named to his present position last month and oversees the operations of CBS’ 29-station portfolio. Williams has been in her post since January 2009 and previously served as VP of sales for Cox Television and general sales manager at WSB Atlanta. Steve Lanzano steps into the TVB presidency Jan. 1.

In Memoriam

Hitachi’s Bernie Munzelle, former VP of sales and marketing for the broadcast and professional division, passed away on Thursday, November 26 from heart failure at the age of 80.  He is survived by his wife, Marie, his two daughters, Tami and Bernadette, his son Paul, and five grandchildren.