Fates Roundup, January 7, 2014

Nancy Kerrigan joins NBC's Olympics coverage, Sasheer Zamata becomes newest 'SNL' castmember, and more
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(Nancy Kerrigan, who joins NBC's Olympics coverage, is pictured left on Today.)

Here is a compilation of the latest executive moves in the industry.

Fox announced the appointment of a trio of executives to its unscripted team on Jan. 7.Lisa Levenson has been tapped as senior VP of alternative entertainment; Alex Piper has been named VP of alternative entertainment; and Amy Cohen, who has been with Fox unscripted since 2005, has been upped to executive director of the unit. Simon Andreae, who was appointed head of the reality division two months ago, made the announcement. Andreae, the former Discovery exec, replaced Mike Darnell, who left the company in May 2013 after 18 years. Darnell is now with Warner Bros. TV. Levenson and Piper will be charged with managing the unit’s day-to-day current unscripted programming as well as help develop new unscripted series for Fox. The duo will report to Andreae.

Mike Chico has been named senior VP of Telemundo Sales at the Telemundo Station Group, it was announced on Jan. 7. Chico, who previously served as senior VP of national sales at Clear Channel Outdoor, will report to Frank Comerford, chief revenue officer and president of commercial operations for Telemundo’s parent, NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations.

Olympic figure skater Nancy Kerrigan will join NBC Olympics coverage of the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, NBC announced on Jan. 7. Kerrigan, who won a silver medal at the 1994 Lillehammer Games and a bronze medal at the 1992 Albertville Games. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the “whack heard round the world,” where a man burst onto the rink during a practice session at the 1994 U.S. World Figure Skating Championships and hit Kerrigan in the knee with a police baton. The man was later connected to fellow figure skater Tonya Harding’s ex-husband Jeff Gillooly and Harding’s bodyguard Shawn Eckhardt.

Lindsey Vonn announced on Jan. 7 that she will be withdrawing from the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi. The skier, who suffered a devastating knee injury early last year, won two medals during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. The championship athlete also earned top honors in downhill skiing and the super-G in the 2009 world championshps.

Shawn Ryan has signed a new three-year deal with Sony Pictures Television. Ryan, who has been with SPT since 2011, most recently worked on Beverly Hills Cop for CBS, which was not picked up and ABC’s short-lived Last Resort. He is best known for his work on FX’s drama The Shield.

Kathryn “Kitty” Broman, a former National Association of Broadcasters board member and the cofounder of WWLP Springfield (MA), has died. She was 97. Broman and her husband William L. Putnam started WWLP, airing the station’s first program in 1952. The broadcast pioneer was the first woman on the NAB board.

Willinger Talent Agency announced a number of client moves on Jan. 7. The appointments include: Jean Casarez, who is heading to CNN as a New York-based correspondent; Sebastian Walker, who joins Al Jazeera America’s documentary series Fault Lines; Tanja Babich, who has been tapped as a reporter and fill-in anchor for WLS Chicago; Kelcey Carlson, who will soon start at Fox O&O, KMSP Minneapolis as weeknight anchor; Angela Buchman, who is serving as chief meteorologist at WTHR Indianapolis; Ken Molestina, who has been appointed weekend anchor at Dallas/Fort Worth’s KTVT; and Frank Wiley, who has moved to WGCL Atlanta as weekday morning anchor.

Sasheer Zamata will join Saturday Night Live as a featured player, it was announced on Jan. 6. Zamata, who will first appear on the show Jan. 18, comes on board a few months after the late-night series received criticism for its lack of diversity. She joins six other new SNL castmembers who started in September: Beck Bennett, Noel Wells, Brooks Wheelen, Mike O'Brien, John Milhiser and Kyle Mooney. SNL will also lose head writer and “Weekend Update” anchor Seth Meyers in February. Meyers will take over the hosting duties on Late Night beginning Feb. 24.

Christine Romans has been tapped as co-anchor of CNN’s Early Start. Romans will continue to serve as the news net’s chief business correspondent in addition to her Early Start duties. CNN also announced that Victor Blackwell and Christi Paul will co-anchor New Day Weekend, the channel’s weekend morning show. Both Blackwell and Paul will continue their previous duties with Blackwell reporting from Atlanta and Paul anchoring weekday programming for HLN.

Alexis Danziger has been named an attorney/agent at Willinger Talent Agency. Danziger has worked in the entertainment industry for more than a decade and was a founding partner of the live event production company Gemini Sisters Entertainment.

Lisa Cornwell will anchor the Golf Channel’s Golf Central, the network announced on Jan. 6. Cornwell has reported for NBC, CBS and ABC affiliate stations in Mississippi, Tennessee and Ohio as well as for the Big Ten Network.

Jim Courier will join the Tennis Channel’s Australian Open team, the net announced on Jan. 6. Courier, a Hall of Famer and the captain of the U.S. Davis Cup Team, will appear nightly during the coverage starting on Jan. 13. He joined the Tennis Channel in 2012 as an analyst for the U.S. Open. He now also covers Wimbledon and the BNP Paribas Open for the net.

Lynda King has been tapped as the chief operating officer of Tribune’s broadcasting unit. King previously worked as senior VP of operations for Local TV Holdings, which was recently acquired by Tribune. As COO, she will help oversee the company’s owned or operated television stations, reporting to Tribune President Larry Wert.

Gannett announced on Jan. 6 that it has expanded its executive team after the company’s purchase of the Belo group.Lynn Beall will work as an executive VP and continue in her role as president and general manager of KSDK St. Louis. Peter Diaz will also serve as an executive VP. Diaz previously was president of Belo’s media operations. Belo employees Angela Betasso and Michael Valentine will also assume duties under Gannett. Betasso was named VP of sales while Valentine was appointed VP of news. Other appointments include Dan Lyons as VP of sales strategy, Rob Mennie as senior VP of news and content, Mark Cornetta as senior VP and Brooke Spectorsky as senior VP of syndicated programming.

Telemundo has appointed two executives to its newly acquired KTLM Harlingen-Weslaco-Brownsville (Texas).Jose Flores, who previously served as VP of content and news for KXTX Dallas-Ft. Worth and the Telemundo Production Center, has been tapped as the station’s general manager. Willie Rosales has been named the station’s VP of sales. Prior to Telemundo, Rosales worked at Entravision Communications.

Women in Cable Telecommunications announced on Jan. 6 new and returning members of the organization’s board of directors. New members include: Cablevision’s Sandra Kapell, AMC Networks’ Ellen Kroner, Accenture’s Kathleen O’Reilly and Cox Communications’ Leigh Woisard. Current board members ARRIS’ Sandy Howe and Turner Broadcasting System’s Kelly Regal were named to WICT’s executive committee. Suddenlink Communications’ Mary Meduski continue to serve as board chair. Comcast’s Martha Soehren has been elected vice chair.

Omar Villafranca has been tapped as a correspondent for CBS News, it was announced on Jan. 6. Villafranca comes to CBS News from NBC’s KXAS-TV Dallas.

Brian Greif has stepped down as VP and general manager of KRON San Francisco, it was announced on Jan. 3. Greif has been suffering serious health complications and is recuperating following back surgery. A search for a new GM is underway. KRON was recently acquired by Media General as part of the company’s merger with Young Broadcasting.

Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav inked a multimillion dollar long-term contract with the company on Jan. 3. Under the deal’s terms, Zaslav, who joined Discovery in 2007, will earn $3 million per year in addition to bonuses and stock awards. The contract goes through Dec. 31, 2019 and features a yearly bonus increase of $600,000 each year until 2018. His target annual bonus in 2018 and 2019 will be $9 million.

Universal Networks International announced on Jan. 3, the appointment of Hendrik McDermott as senior VP of affiliate sales, Zoltan A. Vardy as senior VP of advertising sales, and Marie Holive as senior VP of finance. The trio will report to Satpal Brainch, executive VP and managing director of Universal Networks International, and will be based in London.

David Barrett handed over the reigns of Hearst Television to Jordan Wertlieb, according to a memo from Hearst Corp. CEO Steve Swartz on Jan. 2. Barrett, who had been with Hearst for nearly 30 years, was named president and CEO of Hearst-Argyle Television (now Hearst Television) in 2001. In December 2012, Barrett became chairman and CEO with Wertlieb assuming the role of president. Barrett will remain on at Hearst as a trustee and board member.

Bob Longo has been tapped as news director at Jacksonville’s CBS-Fox pair WTEV-WAWS. Longo, who previously served as news director at Hearst TV’s WESH Orlando, is set to start on Jan. 27. WTEV-WAWS is owned by cox Media Group.

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