Fates & Fortunes Weekly Round-Up: Oct. 16, 200


Lots of big media moves this week, although none topped the story that a six-year-old Colorado boy was potentially trapped in an escaped weather balloon and then found hiding in a cardboard box in the family’s attic. (And was it all a hoax for publicity anyway?)

Anyway, on to this week’s goings and comings. As always, you can follow us on Twitter @BCFates (or me personally @PaigeA, but you’ll also have to hear my opinions about Glee, Top Chef, Project Runway and the like). Forward fates to me at BCFates@gmail.com or at palbiniak@gmail.com.

Big Kahunas

Shane McMahon, EVP, global media for World Wrestling Entertainment, will resign at the end of the year, the company said Friday. Shane is the son of WWE chairman and CEO Vince McMahon and has worked at the family-owned business for most of his entire professional career, including playing an exaggerated version of himself on the company’s television programs. Shane is the second member of the McMahon family to leave the company in recent months. Shane’s mother, Linda McMahon, stepped down as WWE CEO in September to make abid for the U.S. Senate seat currently occupied by Senator Chris Dodd (D-Conn.).

Tim Thorsteinson, president of Harris’ broadcast communications division, will retire from the company effective October 31, 2009 to “pursue other interests,” Harris said Friday. Harris has already begun searching for both internal and external candidates to replace Thorsteinson, who joined Harris four years ago as part of its acquisition of Leitch Technology, where Thorsteinson served as president and CEO.  Thorsteinson was unavailable for comment, so it is unclear whether he is exiting the broadcast business or joining another company. Speculation on the latter will inevitably point to a potential management role at Grass Valley, which has been put up for sale by the French conglomerate Thomson with private equity firms mentioned as the most likely buyers.

Greg Scholl was named president of NBC Local Media Platforms. He formerly was president and CEO of The Orchard, a global digital media services company. Scholl begins Nov. 2. In addition, Brian Buchwald was promoted to EVP, local integrated media, adding oversight of the NBC Everywhere out-of-home advertising business to his portfolio.  Mark French was named SVP/GM of local enterprise solutions, a newly formed unit intended to use Local Media’s platforms to drive value across other NBC Universal businesses.

Steve Hasker was named president, media product leadership and advertiser solutions at Nielsen, effective Nov. 2009. In this new position, Hasker will direct strategy and development of Nielsen’s media products and services, including measurement of television, online, and mobile media as well as the company’s ongoing innovation around cross-media measurement. Hasker also will oversee Nielsen’s new Advertiser Solutions, a business unit created to deliver on Nielsen’s mission to help advertisers deliver the right messages to the right consumers, and to improve marketing effectiveness and return on investment.  Hasker joined McKinsey & Company’s Global Media, Entertainment and Information practice in 1998, advising on issues of strategy, growth and innovation for leading companies in television, mobile telecoms, syndicated information, filmed entertainment, sports and online advertising.  Hasker is a regular guest lecturer at Columbia University, and he’s been published in the Harvard Business Review. His writings on digital and online business models and marketing have been featured in the McKinsey Quarterly.

Gannett Chairman/President/CEO Craig Dubow returned to work last Thursday (Oct. 15) after a leave of absence due to back surgery that began June 15.  Executive VP/CFO Gracia C. Martore served as Gannett’s principal executive officer in Dubow’s absence.

Corporate Changes

Judy Kenny has been named EVP of sales at Twentieth Television effective immediately.  Kenny will be responsible for overseeing all sales initiatives on behalf of Twentieth Television including sales for MyNetworkTV, Debmar-Mercury and Carsey-Warner.  Kenny replaces Bob Cesa, a twenty year veteran of Twentieth Television. Prior to his retirement in June 2010, Cesa will remain with the company through the transition handling new business development for Twentieth.  Most recently, Kenny was EVP of ad sales for MyNetworkTV. Prior to that, she served as EVP of sales for the Spanish language network, Univision.   Before joining Univision, she was the senior account executive of ABC’s primetime sales from 1993 to 1998. Between 1990 and 1993, Kenny served as account executive within the sports and news division. Prior to ABC, Kenny held various positions at BBDO Advertising including VP/associate media director and media buyer. Kenny graduated from Washington & Jefferson College with a Bachelor of Arts degree.

Kathleen Kayse has been named EVP of advertising sales at OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network. Kayse most recently was head of the digital media sales division of Discovery Communications. Prior to that, Kayse led advertising sales and partnerships for AOL, generating more than $1 billion in advertising revenue for the company. She also was publisher of People magazine, and spent a total of 21 years with Time Warner. Kayse, based in New York, holds a BS in advertising from the University of Illinois.

Richard Inouye has been named SVP, finance and administration, at Warner Bros.’ Telepictures Productions. Previously, Inouye had been SVP, finance and administration for Tribune Entertainment Company since 1997. He also served as CFO of Brighton Dialysis Associates and Sandstone Horse Sales; before that, he was VP/CFO of Cannon Pictures. He’s also been VP/controller for Act III Communications and CFO of Financial Broadcasting Network. From 1980-89, Inouye was controller/business manager for KTLA. He served as financial analyst for Golden West Broadcasters from 1979-80. Inouye began his entertainment career working in finance operations as a senior auditor for Peat, Marwick Mitchell CPA in 1976.

Sherry Brennan has been promoted to SVP, sales strategy and development for Fox Cable Networks.

Programming Prospects

Lisa Steiner has been named head of girls and preschool programming at the newly-formed Hasbro Studios, and Lisa Licht, Hasbro’s GM of entertainment and licensing, has been promoted to GM of Hasbro Studios, the company said Thursday.  Both senior executives will work closely with Studio President Stephen J. Davis. Steiner comes to Hasbro from Warner Bros. Animation where she worked as senior VP of creative affairs. Prior to arriving at Warner Bros. in 1998, she held senior positions in the children’s entertainment division at ABC Entertainment. Licht will work with Davis on Hasbro Studio’s strategy and operations.  She will also be coordinating initiatives between the studio and the new TV network created as a joint venture between Hasbro and Discovery Communications set to launch in fall 2010. Before coming to Hasbro, Licht had held senior-level positions at Twentieth Century Fox, including executive VP of global marketing and senior VP of feature film productions and field operations.  Prior to that, she managed the worldwide Barbie brand at Mattel.  At Hasbro, Licht developed the company’s licensing business and TV strategy.

Lauren Corrao is departing her post as president of original programming and development for Comedy Central and returning to the production side. She’ll remain at the network until her contract expires in December.

Station Switches

Steve Carlston has been named VP/GM at Nexstar’s CBS/independent duop KUTV/KUSG Salt Lake City. Carlston starts Oct. 26. Carlston was managing partner of Las Vegas TV Partners, which has owned KTUD Las Vegas since 2004.  Prior to that, he served as EVP for the UPN Network, overseeing network distribution, affiliate relations and marketing, and also served as president/COO of SF Broadcasting, overseeing Fox affiliates in Honolulu, New Orleans, Mobile and Green Bay. It’s a return to the #31 DMA for Carlston, who ran Fox affiliate KSTU from 1992 to 1997.

Journalism Jumps

Fox News has fired liberal analyst Marc Lamont Hill, a Columbia University professor, reports The Huffington Post and Mediaite. News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch broke the news today on an earnings call.

Anchor Marselis Parsons is retiring from Mt. Mansfield-owned CBS affiliate WCAX Burlington, reports the Burlington Free Press. Parsons worked at the station for 42 years and anchoring the 6 p.m. newscast for 25.


Carol Lombardini has been named president of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). Lombardini had been the association’s acting president since April 2009, when former president Nick Counter retired. Subsequently, she has negotiated deals with the Screen Actors Guild, Teamsters Local 399 and other unions and labor groups. The AMPTP represents the studios and networks in labor negotiations with those organizations. Lombardini has been with the AMPTP since 1982, serving in a number of roles including general counsel.


Director Mike Nichols, 78, will receive the American Film Institute’s 38th Life Achievement Award at a gala tribute next summer. He’s one of few people to have won Hollywood’s “Grand Slam” or all four major entertainment awards: the Oscar, Tony, Emmy and Grammy. Nichols is married to ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer.

CNN’s Roland Martin has been named Broadcaster of the Year by Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition. He received the award on Friday, Oct. 16, at the Keep Hope Alive Gala at the Creating Opportunity Conference in Atlanta.


Bob Ellsworth, the first man to anchor the 11 p.m. news for Meredith’s CBS affiliate WFSB Hartford, died Friday, Oct. 9, at the Hospital of Central Connecticut, reported the Hartford Courant.  Ellsworth, 84, was a veteran of World War II, receiving a Bronze Star and Purple Heart. Besides WFSB, Ellsworth also worked for Voice of America and other outlets. He had a production company and narrated thousands of documentaries, films and commercials.

We’ll start and end with wrestling this week. Wrestling lost Captain Lou Albano, 76,  who died at his home in New York’s Westchester County on Wednesday (Oct. 14).