Lifetime's 'Blush' Future In Doubt

IMG execs involved in the show departing
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The future of Lifetime's latest reality show "Blush" is hanging in the balance following IMG's decision to wind down the unit that not only produced it but helped bring in Procter & Gamble's cosmetics brand Max Factor as a sponsor of the show. 

"Blush: The Search for America's Next Great Make-up Artist," is currently on air and is expected to be repeated over the holiday period. A rep for Lifetime couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

Rob Lee, IMG Entertainment's executive vice president and head of programming, who worked on the show exited the firm about a month ago. Mr. Lee was recruited by IMG's head of global media, Chris Albrecht, who quit in August after the company failed to come up with the finance to support the growth of its content business. Like many companies, IMG has been hit by the freezing of the credit markets.

IMG told staff yesterday it was axing its new media business unit which oversaw content production. Around 85 staffers are being let go including its chief, Olivier Gers. Gers was recruited in June 2007 when the unit was created. Before joining he conducted "American Idol," sponsorship negotiations as general manager of Fremantle Media Licensing Worldwide.

At IMG Gers oversaw "Blush," and also helped package an online show with Vogue called "Mole.live." about a group of models who work the international fashion circuit. As senior VP, global new media and co-head IMG Entertainment, Gers also brought in sponsors to TV shows and grew both online, mobile and traditional content properties.  He is staying on until January.

In a memo obtained by Broadcasting & Cable, Friday, IMG chairman and CEO Ted Forstmann, wrote that digital businesses were being folded back into traditional business units. Digital production becomes part of the company's sports media production business while digital content creation will be "aligned with the core business units that own the content needed."

A spokesman for Lifetime said the show was unlikely to have evolved into a second series.

Commenting on the lay-offs, an IMG spokesman said, "We have decided to move our digital ops from a separate group and integrate them into our core business units. In addition we are in the process of identifying a digital technology partner to work with us to provide our clients with world class tech platform services."

"We are taking the action to continue to provide our clients with world class digital services more efficiently, economically and technologically advanced."

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