Fates Roundup, March 10, 2015

SPT taps Hernandez as senior VP, A. Smith & Co. promotes three executives and more
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Below is a compilation of the latest moves in the industry.

Sony Pictures Television has named Zack Hernandez senior VP, western region, U.S. syndication sales. Executive VP Philip Martzolf made the announcement March 10. Hernandez, who joined SPT in 2006, will be responsible for all sales operations in the 62 markets and eight station groups in the western region.

A. Smith & Co. Productions announced three executive promotions on March 10. Sharalynn Cornwall and Kristen Stabile were both upped to the role of executive VP of production, while Christmas Rini was elevated to executive VP of development.

Andy Stabile has joined Kaplan Stahler Agencyas a partner and head of the alternative department. Stabile spent the last 13 years at Creative Artist Agency growing the alternative television department.

AMC Networks has tapped Bernadette Simpao as VP of corporate communications. The network announced the hiring March 10. Simpao, who spent the last 10 years at Viacom, most recently as a senior director of communications, will create and execute business strategies and trade communications activities.

CableOne announced March 10 that it had named Kevin Coyle as chief financial officer. In the new position, Coyle will supervise accounting, finance, reporting and investor relations activities. Coyle previously served as CFO of Elauwit Networks and treasurer and CFO of Jones Intercable.

National Geographic Channels has hired Matt Renner as VP, production, and Terry Danuser as VP, talent. Renner will be a creative lead within the senior production team and help develop the network’s visual style and production practices. Danuser will be responsible for finding and developing new talent for the network.

Jose Avalos, Intel’s worldwide director of visual retail, has been elected onto the Digital Place Based Advertising Association board of directors. A 27-year veteran of the semiconductor business, Avalos has been leading Intel’s worldwide retail and digital signage business for the last half dozen years.

The Senate confirmed Danny Marti as Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator on March 9. Marti, a managing partner at Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton in Washington who was nominated last August, will help oversee the White House’s efforts to combat intellectual property infringement in the role.

Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution has elevated Victoria Marcroft to VP of the marketing, promotion and publicity department. Senior VP of worldwide marketing Greg Drebin made the announcement March 10. Marcroft, formerly the executive director, will be tasked with launching series and marketing campaigns.

The Senate March 9 confirmed Michelle Lee as the new director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Lee, who has previously served as director of its Silicon Valley office and deputy general counsel and head of patents and patent strategy at Google, had been essentially leading the office as deputy director since David Kappos’ departure in 2013.

Rob Drew has been upped to assistant news director of ABC Columbia News, VP and general manager Chris Bailey announced in a memo to staff March 9. Drew, an executive producer at ABC Columbia since 2012, will lead the news team with news director Crysty Vaughan.

Tribune Broadcasting announced March 9 the appointment of Jon Hitchcock as VP and general manager of WTIC-TV and WCCT-TV, its Fox and CW affiliates in Hartford and New Haven, Conn. Hitchcock, who had been president and GM of CBS owned and operated Philadelphia stations KYW-TV and WPSG-TV since 2009, will join Tribune on April 6.

The ninth Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival will kick off with the gala world premiere of Play It Forward. The documentary on former NFL tight end Tony Gonzalez and his family was directed by Andrea Nevins and produced by Cristan Reilly. The festival’s full sports lineup was announced March 9.

The Simpsons cocreator and executive producer Sam Simon died at 59. Simon, who was diagnosed with terminal colorectal cancer in 2012, was also a producer and writer for Taxi, Cheers and The Tracey Ullman Show. Simon gave much of his fortune from The Simpsons to philanthropic organizations. He also founded the Sam Simon Foundation, which rescues and trains dogs.

Dish Network announced on March 9 that Scott Skurnick will serve as VP of digital acquisition. An online marketing veteran of more than 20 years who most recently was Sears Holdings’ divisional VP of customer acquisition, Skurnick will lead Dish’s digital marketing efforts to bring consumers to Dish and turn them into customers.

WFIE Evansville general sales manager Jay Hiett has been promoted to VP and general manager of the Raycom Media-owned station. Hiett, who previously served as account executive and then local sales manager at WTVW Evansville, will take over for Nick Ulmer, who is leaving for the top job at KOLD Tucson.

Fred D’Ambrosi will be the new news director for Raycom Media-owned WOIO/WUAB, the CBS affiliate in Cleveland. D’Ambrosi had been serving as news director of Washington, D.C.’s WUSA-TV, which earned regional AP awards for news operation and sports coverage, and a regional Emmy for covering Hurricane Sandy.

Comcast announced March 9 that it had elevated D’Arcy Rudnay to executive VP, the first woman to serve the position in company history. Rudnay was previously senior VP and chief communications officer. Lawrence Salva, senior VP chief accounting officer and controller, and Arthur Block, senior VP, general counsel and secretary, were also both upped to executive VP.

Keshet International has tapped Sebastian Burkhardt as head of business development and acquisitions. Burkhardt, formerly the senior VP international distribution at Banijay International, will be tasked with finding new business opportunities for the company, leading its push into finished programming and improving sales.

Dr. Alveda King, minister, civil rights activist and niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., has joined Fox News Channel as a contributor. King, the founder of Alveda King Ministries and a senior fellow with the Howard Center for Family, will comment on social and cultural issues during daytime and primetime programming.

Documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles died March 5. He was 88. A Boston native, Maysles was a longtime director and cinematographer who earned two Emmys, for Vladimir Horowitz: The Last Romantic in 1987 and Soldiers of Music in 1991. He was awarded the National Medal of Arts in July 2014.

NBC News confirmed March 6 that Andy Lack will return as chairman of NBC News and MSNBC. Lack, who will start in April, led NBC News from 1993-2001. He will take over for Patricia Fili-Krushel, the NBCUniversal news group chairman since 2012 who is moving to a new position in the company.

NBCUniversal announced March 5 the promotion of Ndidi Oriji to senior VP, advertising standards. Oriji, who had been counsel in the NBCU West Coast Entertainment group and Intellectual Property group, will lead the division responsible for reviewing all advertising on NBC and some advertising on NBCU’s 15 national cable networks.

21st Century Fox has upped Michael Petrie to VP, investor relations, the company announced March 5. Petrie, formerly VP, financial reporting, succeeds Joe Dorrego, who left the role to join the company’s stations group as senior VP and CFO. Petrie will start immediately and report to Reed Nolte, senior VP, investor relations.

Secret Golf with Steve Elkington is moving to CBS Sports Network for its second season. The show, which will start its 15-episode run on May 9, features 1995 PGA Champion Elkington traveling across the U.S. and Canada to discover golf stories. RFD-TV showed the first season.

The Major League Soccer Players Union reached an agreement in principle with the league March 4 on a new five-year deal. The pact, which includes limited free agency and increased minimum salaries, ensures that UniMás and Univision Deportes Network will be the first Spanish language services to open a major U.S. sports league’s season.

Tim Libby has joined Starcom USA as senior VP, digital director. Libby, who has more than 12 years of experience, will take the helm on digital strategy and delivery throughout the Novartis portfolio. In addition, Libby will support the new internal programmatic buying offering by putting processes and best practices into effect.

The E.W. Scripps Company has named Brad Remington VP and general manager of its Denver ABC affiliate KMGH and Azteca station KZCO. Remington, who had been serving as executive news director of the independent phoenix station KTVK, began his new role on March 9.

Viacom has consolidated its advertising sales operation with Jeff Lucas in charge. Lucas had been leading ad sales for Viacom’s entertainment networks, including MTV and Comedy Central, and as such is adding Nickelodeon to his roster. It is not clear if Nickelodeon’s head of sales Jim Perry will stay with the company.

Jessica Bellucci has been elevated to VP, communications, for Tribune Broadcasting. The director of communications for Tribune Broadcasting and PIX11 since joining the company in 2006, Bellucci will be tasked with supervising communications for its stations and digital networks as well as Antenna TV and This TV.

Troika on March 4 announced the hiring of Kevin Aratari to supervise all sales and marketing functions. Aratari will work closely with Dan Pappalardo, founder and CEO of the entertainment brand consultancy and marketing innovations agency. Aratari will help align the agency with the changing media landscape.

A+E Studios has inked a development deal with Michael Hirst, the creator of Vikings. Under the multiyear agreement, Hirst will create dramatic programming for the studio’s roster of networks, such as A&E, History and Lifetime, in addition to outside networks.

Katherine Nelson has been appointed senior VP, communication of Syfy and Chiller. Nelson, who helped launch sister NBCUniversal network Esquire as its senior communications VP, will lead bicoastal corporate communication, publicity and talent relations.

The honorees for the 40th Anniversary Gracies Awards include Julia Roberts, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Olivia Munn, Mae Whitman and Orange Is the New Black. Cicely Tyson will be recognized with the Lifetime Achievement Award. The Alliance for Women in Media Foundation announced the honorees on March 4.

Vidcheck announced March 4 that John Prather had joined the specialty software-supplying company as regional sales manager - Americas. Prather, who starts immediately, will work with resellers to help expand the company’s visibility and support in the Americas.

Video delivery infrastructure provider Harmonic announced March 4 the hiring of Xiaojun Dou as managing director of China sales. Dou, formerly Avid’s country manager for Greater China, will lead the company’s China sales team and give strategy for the company’s business in the country.

Broadcasting & Cable announced its honorees for the 18th Annual Technology Leadership Awards. The 2015 class, which will be recognized in the April 13 magazine and during a cocktail reception at the April 13 NAB Show, include Warner Bros.’ Wendy Aylsworth, Univision’s Kevin Conroy, Scripps’ Mark Hale, Sinclair’s Scott Livingston, Nexstar’s Tom O’Brian and Cox’s Dave Siegler.

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