Fates & Fortunes Round-Up: Dec. 21, 200

We’re playing a little catch-up here at Fates & Fortunes due to the holidays, so this round-up will include all job changes through last Monday, Dec. 21 – and there are TONS so this probably qualifies as the longest blog ever.  As soon as I can compile it, I’ll post a separate round-up with all changes through today.

F&F would like to make special note of B&C’s GMs of the year:

Markets 1-25 Peter Dunn: The Power Behind WCBS’ Rise

Markets 26-50 Tom Griesdorn: Columbus’ Top Buckeye

Markets 51-plus Ted Fortenberry: Master Multi-Tasker

Multi-Platform Broadcaster of the Year: Weigel Maximizes DTV Pipe

As always, you can follow Fates on Twitter @BCFates or me personally @PaigeA if you are also willing to put up with tweets on how glad I am that 2009 has ended. Forward fates to me at BCFates@gmail.com or at palbiniak@gmail.com.

Happy holidays everyone! Here’s hoping that 2010 is a better year for all of us in the media industry.

Big Kahunas

Clark Bunting (pictured left) took the top job at Discovery, moving up to become president and GM of Discovery Channel and Science Channel in a major reorganization. Bunting had been chief of the company’s emerging networks. John Ford, Discovery Channel’s previous president and GM, is stepping down. Debbie Myers remains GM of Science Channel, reporting to Bunting. Henry Schleiff, who joined as president/GM of Investigation Discovery in August, adds the Military Channel and HD Theater to his portfolio. Laura Michalchyshyn (and I thought I hated spelling my name all of the time), who took over Planet Green in February, will add FitTV and Discovery Health (until it becomes OWN in 2011) to her plate. Carole Tomko, who had been in charge of Discovery Studios, FitTV and Discovery Health, will shift her focus entirely  to Discovery Studios in advance of production of Discovery’s five-year Curiosity series. Animal Planet President and GM Marjorie Kaplan and TLC President and GM Eileen O’Neill will remain in their current roles.

Tribune Executive VP Jerry Kersting has been named COO of Tribune’s broadcast division. He’ll work closely with Broadcasting President Ed Wilson to manage the day-to-day operations of the company’s 23 television stations, national cable channel WGN America, and WGN Radio. Kersting joined Tribune in the spring of 2008 after running finance at Clear Channel’s radio division. The move enables Wilson, who has overseen Tribune’s broadcasting business since early 2008 and was named chief revenue officer last year, to focus more on Tribune’s overall sales and revenue.

Nancy Tellem (pictured right) has been named senior advisor to CBS’ Leslie Moonves, in a job change that had been expected since it was first reported in October. Tellem has been president of the CBS Network Television Entertainment Group. Tellem joined CBS in 1997 as executive VP of business affairs for CBS Entertainment and soon became entertainment president, developing such CBS mainstays as Survivor, CSI and The Amazing Race.

Programming Prospects

RDF Media USA CEO Chris Coelen is leaving the company after almost four years, reports The Hollywood Reporter. Coelen had been with RDF USA since February 2006, helping to build the British company into a strong supplier of programming to U.S. networks. Just before Coelen resigned, Natalka Znak, co-creator and executive producer of such British-born reality shows as Hell’s Kitchen and I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here!, was named the company’s EVP and head of development. Under Coelen, RDF Media USA, has produced such shows as ABC’s Wife Swap, Fox’s Don’t Forget the Lyrics and ABC’s Find My Family.

The CW’s Gaye Hirsch has been named SVP of drama development, moving over from current, where she also was SVP overseeing such shows as Gossip Girl, Melrose Place and Smallville, reports The Hollywood Reporter. Prior to joining the CW, Hirsch was an exec at Cruise/Wagner Productions and a VP of production at HBO Films.

Access Hollywood co-anchor Nancy O’Dell (pictured left) is leaving the show after 13 years, reports People.com. A source told the outlet that O’Dell had become “uncomfortable” with the show’s increasingly tabloid direction.

Clyde Phillips, showrunner of Showtime’s Dexter, is exiting the show, reports the Hollywood Reporter. Phillips’ departure comes on the heels of the show’s fourth season finale, which scored record-breaking ratings.  Chip Johannessen, formerly co-EP of Fox’s 24, will succeed Phillips. (Unrelated favorite TV show plug here: Nurse Jackie and United States of Tara come back on Showtime this March. I highly recommend both.)

Brent Haynes has been named SVP of comedy and animation at MTV.  He had been senior VP of east coast development at the network. Haynes has brought aboard Jason Gwozdz as VP of comedy and animation and Brooke Posch as senior director of comedy and animation.

Sarah Weidman has been promoted to SVP, development and new series, at the Style network, while Merah Chung has moved up to VP of development and new series. Prior to joining Style, Weidman was VP of development at Sony Pictures Television. Before that, she was VP of series development at MTV. Chung started her career at E! Entertainment, becoming a producer at the network. She moved over to Style as a supervising producer, and managed the network’s daily production of series. She then was promoted to EP at E! and Style, before joining Local Television Network as an EP. She returned to Style as EP and director of development and new series.

Emmy-winning documentary filmmaker Howard Swartz will become executive producer on PBS’ science series, Nova. Swartz joins Nova from the National Geographic Channel (NGC), where he has executive produced more than 90 original programs and currently oversees its award-winning Explorer series.  Prior to NGC, Swartz co-founded BellaSwartz Productions in 2002, where he oversaw numerous award-winning nonfiction television programs for NGC, Science, Discovery, and History Channels. Starting in 1996, he produced, wrote, and directed nearly 100 hours of some of the most successful series in nonfiction cable television, such as The New Detectives and FBI Files.

Former Los Angeles Lakers star and NBA head coach Byron Scott will join ESPN as a studio analyst in January. Scott previously served as an analyst for the network during the 2003-04 NBA season. Scott coached the New Orleans Hornets from 2005-09, winning NBA Coach of the Year in 2008. Prior to that, he coached the New Jersey Nets from 2000-04, leading the team to back-to-back NBA Finals appearances in 2002 and 2003. During his playing career, Scott won three NBA championships with the Lakers in the mid-to-late 1980s.

Corporate Changes

Salil Mehta, NBC U’s president of business operations, strategy and development, will lead NBC Universal’s operational transition team as the company works toward integration with Comcast. Comcast CFO Joe Donnelly will contribute from the Comcast side, with strong assists from Jeff Shell, president of the Comcast Programming Group and Jeff Gaspin, chairman of NBC U TV Entertainment. A second “Administrative Transition Team,” will be led by Comcast’s Bob Victor, SVP of strategic and financial planning and John Eck, president of NBC TV Network and Mediaworks. Media Bistro’s TVNewser first reported the memo from NBCU President Jeff Zucker. After months of leaks, Comcast and NBCU announced in early December that they were forming a joint venture.

Shirley Powell, Turner Broadcasting’s chief corporate communications officer, is departing her post early next year, reports the LA Times’ Joe Flint. Powell, 43, has held senior positions at NBC under Scott Sassa and Walt Disney Co. under Anne Sweeney and has spent the last eight years at Turner. She headed up media relations for its corporate offices in Atlanta and also had oversight of the marketing and media operations of its various cable networks, including TBS, TNT, Cartoon Network and CNN.

Jerry Petry, EVP of administration at the NBC Universal TV Group, is retiring after 34 years, reported The Wrap’s Josef Adalian. Before assuming his current role in 2006, Petry ran business operations and sales for NBC U Television Distribution. He had also served as EVP of NBC Enterprises and worked in finance and business affairs for NBC Productions, among other key roles. Petry’s NBC career began in 1976, working for both the network and Los Angeles flagship KNBC.

Kevin Arrix has been promoted to EVP, digital advertising sales, at MTV Networks, leading the company’s digital advertising sales and operations for online and mobile advertising across MTV, NH1, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, Shockwave, CMT, Spike and Logo. He’ll also helm MTV Networks Digital Fusion, which works with MTVN’s digital and creative assets to build advertiser brands and engage shared-fans. Arrix also oversees MTVN’s Tribes, a series of niche vertical ad networks built around the company’s core online properties.  Arrix most recently was SVP, digital advertising sales for MTVN, for three years. He’s also worked in ad sales at Nickelodeon, CBS SportsLine and Turner Broadcasting.

Jody Drewer has been promoted to EVP/CFO at TV One, succeeding Bob Buenting, who recently retired. Drawer has been at Baltimore-based TV One since 2007, when he came over from Discovery Communications where he was VP of financial planning and analysis.

Susie Fogelson has been promoted to SVP, marketing and brand strategy for the cooking category at Scripps Networks, which encompasses Food Network and Cooking Channel.  Fogelston has been at Food Network for nine years, first as director of marketing  and then as vice president. She’s presided over many of the network’s brand partnerships.

Annemarie Batur has been promoted to VP of marketing and advertising for E! Entertainment Television. Batur previously served as executive director of marketing and advertising for E!. Before joining the network in 2006, Batur was Starcom’s associate media director.

Station Switches

Belo EVP/CFO Dennis Williamson will retire on March 5, 2010. Carey P. Hendrickson, a 17-year Belo vet, will become SVP/CFO upon Williamson’s departure.

Guy Wheaton has been named SVP/CIO for Fox Television Stations. Wheaton has held a variety of positions within News Corp., since joining the company in 1998. Most recently, he was vice president of information technology operations for FTS, a position he held since 2007. Prior to that, he was VP of technology for News Corp.’s Global CIO Office, VP of telecommunications for News Corp. global sourcing and VP of technology development for News digital media.

Journalism Jumps

Joe Trippi, campaign manager for Howard Dean’s bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, will become a contributor to Fox News, reports political blog The Swamp.

MSNBC’s Chuck Todd and Savannah Guthrie will co-anchor a morning political program called Daily Rundown that will air each weekday at 9 a.m. The move pushes Dylan Ratigan to 4 p.m., where he’ll host The Dylan Ratigan Show. Ratigan formerly hosted Morning Meeting with Dylan Ratigan at 9 a.m.

Nikhil Deogun was named managing editor at CNBC, replacing Tyler Mathisen, who has been named VP of strategic editorial initiatives and will anchor the network’s Power Lunch. Deogun was international and deputy managing editor at The Wall Street Journal.

Pedro Sevcec is departing Telemundo after 18 years with the network and eight as anchor of its Noticiero Telemundo nightly newscast. Jose Diaz Balart will replace him.

Todd McDermott is WPIX Pittsburgh’s new morning and noon co-anchor. McDermott previously reported for WCBS New York, as well as at stations in Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Wichita, Kansas.

Bridget Lovelle has been named news director of Perkin’s ABC affiliate KSPR Springfield, Mo., replacing Brad Belote, who has been promoted to the newly created position of digital media content manager, reports the Springfield News-Ledger. Prior to this, Lovelle was assistant news director at Newport’s WPTY/WLMT Memphis, Tenn.

Jane McCarthy has been named co-anchor of Belo’s KREM Spokane, Wash. McCarthy previously was an award-winning reporter for Belo’s KING Seattle, as well as a reporter and anchor at KXTV Sacramento, Calif.; KTVN Reno, Nev., and KCBY Coos Bay, Ore.

Jeremy Settle, former news director at NewsChannel 8 in Washington, has been named news director at Nextstar’s NBC affiliate WBRE Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Pa.

Steve Koles has been named news director at Freedom’s CBS affiliate WWMT Kalamazoo, Mich., reports TVNewscheck. Koles joins the station from the LIN-owned WPRI Providence, R.I., where he has been the assistant news director for the last three-and-a-half years. Prior to Providence Koles was the assistant news director and acting news director at KJRH Tulsa, Okla. He also has been executive producer at WMAR Baltimore and senior news producer at WAVY Norfolk-Portsmouth-Newport News, Va.

Jeremy Nelson joins Hearst’s ABC affiliate WISN Milwaukee as a weekend meteorologist and Web reporter. He will anchor weather on the weekends and blog about the weather throughout the week. Nelson comes to Milwaukee from Kansas City, where he worked as the weekend meteorologist at NBC affiliate KSHB. Prior to that, he was chief meteorologist at WMSN Madison and a meteorologist for Weather Central. He began his career at WLUC Marquette, Mich., where he also served as a meteorologist for the morning news.

Mark Curtis is joining Global Broadcasting’s ABC affiliate WLNE Providence, R.I., as a weekend anchor and investigative reporter. Curtis comes to WLNE after nearly a decade as morning news anchor at KTVU San Francisco. Prior to that, he was correspondent for Cox Television in Washington, D.C.

Jack Conatylead political correspondent for Fox’s WFLD Chicago, is leaving the station after his contract was not renewed, reports the Chicago Tribune’s Phil Rosenthal. Conaty had been with the station for 22 years, after spending eight years in Washington, D.C.

Baltimore weathercaster Norm Lewis is retiring from Scripps’ WMAR after 31 years on the air, reported the Baltimore Sun. Lewis follows WMAR anchors Mary Beth Marsden and Terry Owens,  who each took buyout offers.

Ed Bark, former TV critic for the Dallas Morning News and author of his own Uncle Barky’s Bytes, has been named independent contributor to the LocateTV blog.

New media

Larry Tanz has been named president of new media studio Vuguru, which was founded by former Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Michael Eisner, reports the LA Times’ Company Town blog. Tanz most recently was president of Agility Studios. He also served as president and CEO of LivePlanet Inc., a production venture started by  Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.

Tech trades

Choi Gee-sung has been named Samsung Electronics’ CEO in a reorg, reports the AP. Lee Yoon-woo, who has served as CEO since May 2008, will continue as chairman. Samsung’s top customer relations executive, Jay Y. Lee, is now chief operating officer. Lee, also known as Lee Jae-yong, is the grandson of Samsung’s founder and the son of former chairman Lee Kun-hee, who resigned in 2008 after being indicted on tax evasion charges.

D.C. Denizens

Preston Padden, Disney’s top lobbyist in Washington, is going to start phasing out of his job in January, with an eye toward retiring in January 2011, according to a note from Padden to colleagues and friends. Padden, who is known for his relentless work ethic, says he has accepted a post as senior fellow and adjunct professor at the Silicon Flatirons Center at the University of Colorado Law School in Boulder. Disney’s government relations team will report to Disney General Counsel Alan Braverman until a successor is named, which Padden says should be early next year. Padden was named EVP of government relations for Disney in 1998. Before that he was president of the ABC TV network. Padden’s extensive resume includes CEO for News Corp.’s Sky Broadcasting and head of the former Association of Independent Television Stations.


Karen Wynn Freeman, executive director of the National Association of Black Journalists, has resigned. Drew Berry, a former television general manager and news director who is a past chairman of NABJ’s Finance Committee, will step in as a consultant, Times said. NABJ, which is facing financial difficulties, will not have to pay the remainder of Wynn Freeman’s contract.

Peter Fannon of Panasonic and Robert Quinn of AT&T Services were elected to the Media Institute’s board of trustees. Also elected to full terms were Verizon’s Kathleen Grillo and Gannett’s Barbara Wall. The board is an eclectic mix of representatives of the cable, broadcast, satellite, online, telecom, print, legal and consumer electronics communities. It is chaired by former FCC Chairman and Wiley Rein partner Dick Wiley.

In Memoriam

Roy Edward Disney, Walt Disney’s nephew and a powerful executive in his own right, died Wednesday, Dec. 16 after a battle with stomach cancer, reported the LA Times. He was 79. Disney spearheaded the renaissance of Disney Animation with hits such as The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and The Lion King. Disney also was behind The Walt Disney Co.’s initial $10 million investment in Apple-created Pixar, a decision that changed the future of the company. Disney initially was behind the executive search that brought Michael Eisner to the company, but later lost confidence in Eisner and led a fight to get rid of him, which Disney ultimately won. Bob Iger took Eisner’s place and made peace with Disney, ending the conflict between Disney’s board and its corporate executives. Disney is survived b y his wife, Leslie, two daughters, two sons and 16 grandchildren.

TV evangelist Oral Roberts died Tuesday, Dec. 15 from complications of pneumonia in Newport Beach, Calif. He was 91. Roberts’ wife, Evelyn, died in 2005 after a 66-year marriage. Roberts is survived by his son and daughter and their spouses, along with 12 grandchildren and several great-grandchildren.

Actress Brittany Murphy, 32, passed away on Sunday, Dec. 20, with the cause of death not yet officially confirmed by the Los Angeles coroner.  Murphy starred in both TV and film, voicing King of the Hill’s Luann Platter. She first gained national attention as the subject of Alicia Silverstone’s makeover attentions in Clueless and then gave Angelina Jolie and Wynona Ryder runs for their money in Girl, Interrupted.

Romper Room hostess Rosemary Nadzam died at the age of 78. She is survived by her husband and five children.

Nicholas W. Pfeifauf, former evening anchorman for WESH Orlando, died in his sleep on Friday, Dec. 11, after suffering a heart attack. He was 77. He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Eloise; three children: Donna, Linda and Kenneth; six grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

Paige Albiniak

Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997-September 2002.