After three decades in the cable-network business, Court TV President and COO Dick Beahrs plans to leave at the end of the year. Beahrs, 58, plans to spend time traveling and working on some public-service projects he has been involved with, most notably a United Nations project on hunger.
"If you had asked me five years ago that I'd still be here, I would have said no," he says. "You look for the logical point to move on. This is one."
Beahrs's contract expired in January, but he formally notified Court TV three weeks ago that he will be leaving. He will be succeeded by Art Bell, currently executive vice president of programming and marketing.
Beahrs has been the classic inside man, operating in the shadows of high-profile bosses, including Court TV CEO Henry Schlieff, ex CEO Steve Brill and former HBO CEO Michael Fuchs. Beahrs was briefly president of Time Warner's The Comedy Channel, which merged with a rival Viacom network to become Comedy Central. As senior vice president of sales and marketing at Cinemax, he was chief strategist for the launch of the pay movie channel.
Time Warner put Beahrs into the Court TV venture (then a consortium and now 50%-50% owned by AOL Time Warner and Liberty) in part to represent the company's interests and temper Brill, the ambitious but volatile founder.
When Schlieff replaced Brill and Court TV became more of an entertainment network, Beahrs thought he would be canned. But he enjoyed the changes. "I've always done startups," he says. "Court TV is just finishing the startup phase. It took us a decade to do it, but it's there."