More fallout from Dr. Laura

Paramount vet Frank Kelly gets ax; Meidel succeeds him

In a move likely fueled by the controversy surrounding Dr. Laura and its failure in the syndication market, sources say, Paramount Domestic Television's veteran Frank Kelly, the co-president was forced out last Friday.

Kelly is being replaced by former syndication executive Greg Meidel, who is making a return engagement at the Paramount lot.

Joel Berman, who has served as co-president with Kelly at Paramount's syndication unit for the past five years, is expected to remain in his current position. Berman is also expected to oversee Paramount Domestic TV on his own. Kelly will likely receive a development deal with Paramount and oversight of syndicated series Judge Joe Brown.

Kelly and Berman have been with Paramount Domestic Television since the early '80s, Berman rising through the sales side and Kelly on the production end. Kelly was one of the first producers on Paramount's Entertainment Tonight.

Meidel, formerly a top executive at both Universal and Paramount and most recently president of Massive Media Group, is expected to be named head of programming at Paramount Domestic TV, reporting to Berman.

Rumors of a Paramount shakeup have been persistent in syndication circles ever since the Dr. Laura controversy began brewing early last year. Paramount's syndication division, which is home to Entertainment Tonight, Judge Judy and Montel Williams, has struggled to deliver a new first-run hit show. Besides Dr. Laura, Paramount has attempted talk shows with comedians Howie Mandel and Caroline Rhea (the studio opted not to go forward with Rhea's talker for the fall).