The roster of possible successors to the top Showtime programming job includes a batch of experienced television executives. On the short list to replace outgoing Showtime programming chief Jerry Offsay, according to sources close to the situation, are FX entertainment chief Kevin Reilly, former head of production for Columbia TriStar Tom Mazza and Viacom Productions chief Perry Simon.
Other names bandied about include Jeff Watchel, executive vice president of programming for USA Network; Turner programming executive Garth Ancier; and veteran producer Tony Jonas.
Offsay, president of programming since 1994, informed Showtime Chairman and CEO Matt Blank last summer of his desire to leave and will depart as the year (and his contract) ends.
He has made 300 movies (which received 69 Emmy nominations) and taken 250 business trips. That's enough.
"You can go at that pace if there is a goal line in site," said Offsay. "Mine has always been by my 50th birthday." He was also born in December, so he'll celebrate his retirement and birthday with one bash.
Showtime's slate of original series and movies is planned out through 2004. Offsay says the well-planned schedule is a luxury for any new programmer. "Usually, someone walks in, and they have to pick up the pieces of the place, and there is nothing in the pipeline."