In a move likely fueled by the quick demise of Dr. Laura, sources say Paramount Domestic Television's executives ranks were shuffled late Friday as veteran co-president Frank Kelly was forced out and former syndication executive Greg Meidel was making a return engagement to the Paramount lot.
Joel Berman, who has served as co-president with Kelly at Paramount's syndication unit for the last five years, is expected to remain in his current position. Berman is also expected to now oversee Paramount Domestic TV on his own and 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.
As for Meidel, who formerly was a top executive at both Universal and Paramount and most recently president of Massive Media Group, he is expected to be named head of programming at Paramount Domestic TV, reporting to Berman.
Rumors of a shakeup at Paramount 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 hit first-run show for some time. Besides Dr. Laura, Paramount has attempted talk shows with comedians Howie Mandel and Caroline Rhea (Paramount opted not to go forward with Rhea's talker for the fall).
- Joe Schlosser and Susanne Ault