Fates Roundup, Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Anne Sweeney to leave Disney, ATAS changes its name to Television Academy, and more
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Below is a compilation of the latest executive moves in the industry.

Anne Sweeney announced March 11 she will exit Disney/ABC Television Group in January 2015. Sweeney, cochair of Disney Media Networks and president of Disney/ABC TV Group, will pursue television directing after her departure. As cochair and president, Sweeney has overseen the company's entertainment and news television properties worldwide. She joined Disney in 1996.

Tom Bergeron is stepping down from his hosting duties on America's Funniest Home Videos, ABC confirmed on March 11. Bergeron, who will continue to emcee the net's Dancing With the Stars, will leave AFV after next season. He has held the mic on the show since 2001.

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences is changing its name to the Television Academy, the organization announced on March 11. The TV Academy, which will celebrate its 70th anniversary in 2016, has gone by the ATAS moniker for nearly 68 years. The rebrand will also include expansion of the Academy's endowment to philanthropic efforts, a new logo, and a "contemporary" modification to the Emmy statuette.

Ted Turner is recovering from appendicitis surgery and is heading back to the states from Argentina, it was announced on March 11. The CNN founder began experiencing abdominal pain while visiting his property in the Patagonia region and was subsequently hospitalized in Beunos Aires.

Cesar Ruiz has joined IMS Internet Media Services as VP of U.S. sales, IMS announced on March 11. Ruiz, who most recently helmed national sales for ESPN Deportes, will take the lead on ad sales efforts for the media buying and marketing company's client beIN SPORTS. 

SundanceTV announced on March 11 the hiring and promotion of two members of its executive team. Drew Pisarra has been named VP of digital media and marketing at the network, while Mark Zadroga has been upped to director of online content.  Pisarra, who joins Sundance from parent company AMC Networks, will be tasked with overseeing the net's digital operations, including strategy and development. He will report to Monica Bloom, senior VP of marketing. Zadroga, who will report to Pisarra, joined SundanceTV in 2011 as a senior producer. In his new role, Zadroga will be responsible for the day to day production for the net's digital media.

Fox Broadcasting announced on March 10 that it has restructured its programming unit. Under the reorganization the company has combined its development and current programming departments. Suzanna Makkos has been tasked as executive VP of comedy development and series coverage while Terence Carter will serve as executive VP of drama development and programming initiatives.  Both Makkos and Carter will report to Fox Broadcasting COO Joe Earley. Makkos' top lieutenants will be just promoted senior VP Levy Neustadter and VP Samata Narra. Newly minted senior VP Charlie Andrews and senior VP James Oh will support Carter.

ESPN has formed Exit 31, a content unit that combines the resources of ESPN Films, Grantland and the upcoming FiveThirtyEight. The group will look to expand traditional storytelling to complement ESPN's content. Six projects already fall under the Exit 31 umbrella, including Grantland's web series The Finish Line, ESPN Films' 30 for 30 Soccer Stories, and the docuseries Inside: U.S. Soccer's March to Brazil.

Kristen Finney has been upped to senior VP of worldwide pay television and subscription on demand for Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution, the company announced on March 10. Finney, who has been with Fox for more than a decade, most recently served as VP of the division. In her new role, she will continue to oversee the licensing of the company's film and television properties to SVOD and pay TV services. She will also work to grow SVOD globally.

Matt Vasgersian and John Smoltz have joined Fox's MLB roster of game callers. Vasgersian and Smoltz will emcee games on Fox and Fox Sports 1. Vasgersian is no stranger to Fox, and has called both MLB and NFL matchups for the net. Smoltz spent more than two decades pitching in the MLB and has more than 200 career wins and 150 career saves. He has served as a game and studio analyst for the MLB Network as well as for TBS during its coverage. The announcement comes a week after Fox Sports announced MLB Whiparound, a weeknight telecast live from Los Angeles. on Fox Sports 1.

Former Academy of Television Arts & Sciences president Hank Rieger has died. He was 95. The organization, which was recently rebranded to The Television Academy, confirmed the news on its website on March 7. Rieger served as president of the academy's Los Angeles chapter from 1973-1075 before working as president of the ATAS from 1977 to 1980. In 1979 he created Emmy Magazine and served as the publication's editor and publisher.

David Turetsky is leaving the FCC at the end of April, it was announced on March 7. Since last fall, Turetsky had been deputy chief of the International Bureau and coordinator of the agency's international disasters response task force. He had previously headed the agency's Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau but was moved after Chairman Tom Wheeler appointed Admiral David Simpson to the post.

Twentieth Century Fox Television has tapped on March 7 three VPs to roles in development, programming and publicity. The studio upped Jennifer Carreras to VP of comedy development, report in got Michael Thorn, executive VP of development. Mandy Summers has been promoted to VP of current programming, reporting to Jeffrey Glaser, executive VP of current programming. Former Glamour editor Jen Weinberg joins as VP of talent relations and events, reporting to Chris Alexander, senior VP of corporate communications and publicity.

Bill Whitaker has been tapped as a 60 Minutes correspondent, CBS News announced on March 6. The broadcast veteran joined CBS News in 1984 as a reporter but has been based in Los Angeles with the company since 1992, reporting for CBS Evening News, Sunday Morning, and additional network news casts. He will begin appearing on air for the news magazine in the fall, relocating to New York.

CEO Ken Lowe's contract with Scripps Networks Interactive has been extended through December 2016. Along with the extension, Lowe's base salary has been raised from $1.25 million to $1.42 million with restricted share units valued at $5 million.

Brian Ross and his ABC News investigative won the 2014 Goldsmith Prize for investigative reporting. The honor comes with a $25,000 cash prize. Ross and ABC News worked with the Center for Public Integrity on a year-long investigation of the coal industry. ABC News' Matt Mosk and Rhonda Schwartz as well as the Center's Chris Hamby, Ronnie Greene, Jim Morris and Chris Zubak-Skees will share the prize with Ross.

The Entertainment Industries Council announced the nominees for the 18th Annual PRISM Awards on March 6. The awards honor accurate depictions of addiction and mental health issues in TV, film, music, online and comic books. Each with 12, CBS and Lifetime lead the nomination pack. Among the films, television shows and talent up for accolades are Homeland, Scandal, August: Osage County, Lee Daniel's The Butler, Julia Roberts, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Meryl Streep and Oprah. The PRISM awards will be doled out on April 22 at the Skirball Center. For a complete list of nominees visit PRISMAwards.com.

Ron Frankel is leaving the helm of Synacor, it was announced on March 6. Frankel, who has served as CEO of the company since April 2001, will remain in the role until a replacement is named. He will then continue on as a board member and advisor.

Comedian Tom Green will host the Broadcast Minds panel at the 2014 NAB Show in Las Vegas, it was announced on March 6. Panelists include magician Criss Angel, MyDamnChannel.com's Rob Barnett and Cali Lewis, host of GeekBeat TV. The session will take place April 9 from 9 to 10 a.m.

Bravo Media made a number of executive announcements on March 6. Lara Spotts has been named senior VP of development. Jenn Levy and Kathleen French have been promoted to senior VPs of production. Bravo execs David O'Connell, senior VP of production operations, and David Brewer, VP of program strategy and acquisitions, have both added oversight of Oxygen Media to their duties.

Hawaii Five-0 show runner Peter Lenkov has inked a new two-year deal with CBS Television Studios, the company confirmed on March 6. Under the fresh contract, Lenkov will continue to work on Hawaii Five-0 in addition to developing new projects for the studio.

AMC has upped Ben Davis to senior VP of scripted programming, the company announced on March 5. Davis, who joined AMC in 2005, has worked on programs such as Broken Trail, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, The Killing and Rubicon. As senior VP, he will oversee existing productions and the network's scripted programming development. The exec will continue to report to Susie Fitzgerald, senior VP of scripted development and current programming.

Devin C. Johnson has been tapped as senior VP and head of digital media at Tribune Broadcasting. Johnson, who had began his career at Tribune before spending a number of years at NBCUniversal, will oversee product development, social media, content, technology and digital sales strategy. He reports to Larry Wert, president of Tribune Broadcast Media.

The Advanced Television Systems Committee has tapped LIN Media's Brett Jenkins as a member of its board of directors. Jenkins, who oversees engineering and IT at LIN, replaces PBS's Jim Kutzner, who is retiring from the board.

AMC has upped Ben Davis to senior VP of scripted programming, the company announced on March 5. Davis, who has been with AMC since 2005, will help oversee scripted development and current productions, continuing to report to Susie Fitzgerald, senior VP of scripted development and current programming.

Shannon Jamieson Driver has been tapped as senior VP of marketing and creative services at HGTV and DIY Network, it was announced on March 5. Driver, who will report to HGTV and DIY Network President Kathleen Finch, will oversee the Knoxville-based team. She joined the company in 2004. After being promoted, Driver named Kendra Rudder, who has been with DIY and HGTV since 2001, to VP of media strategies.

Connie Guglielmo has been named editor-in-chief of CNET News. The journalist, who most recently wrote for Forbes, will oversee CNET's operations and work alongside Lindsey Turrentine, CNET Reviews editor-in-chief.

Rev New Media has rebranded to Shandy Media, the digital media company announced on March 5. Shandy Media, which was named after the lager and lemonade drink as a reminder to mix things up, operates five online properties including Hollyscoop.com as well as the syndicated show Hollyscoop.

William Goetz is leaving Time Warner Cable, it was announced on March 5 at an industry conference. Goetz has served as executive VP and COO of residential services at TWC. COO Dinni Jain will assume Goetz' duties at the company. In January 2013, the company's management was restructured with Goetz assuming the role of COO, residential services at that time.

Conan O'Brien will host the 2014 MTV Movie awards on April 13, the funny man announced on his TBS late-night talker Conan on March 5. The network will also work with members of Our2ndLife (O2L), a pop-culter vlogger boy group, to release a "Nominee Rundown." O2L will also serve as social correspondents on the red carpet.

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