Fates & Fortunes Round-Up: Feb. 8 – Feb. 15, 2010

In my house right now, it’s Olympics 24/7. Who cares if NBC is losing $250 million or if there’s no snow in Vancouver? I literally cannot get enough – I watched all four hours of the opening ceremonies, last night’s pairs figure skating and today I’ve got snowboard cross qualifying runs on with the sound down. I only wish the freestyle skiing competition went on for a week, there were more winter sports to cover and that it would stop raining on the downhill course. Viva Vancouver!

As always, you can follow Fates on Twitter @BCFates or me personally @PaigeA if you don’t mind a constant stream of snow tweets. Forward fates to me at BCFates@gmail.com or at palbiniak@gmail.com.

In the News

Barbara Walters says next month’s Oscar interview special will be her last, ending a 29-year tradition. Walters made the announcement Monday on her weekday talk show, The View. Walters’ farewell Oscar special will air prior to the Oscar telecast on March 7, and will feature Academy Award Best Actress nominee Sandra Bullock and Best Supporting Actress nominee Mo’Nique, along with a retrospective of past specials.

Programming Prospects

Veteran comedy writer-producer Rich Appel has inked a new three-year overall deal with 20th Century Fox TV, extending his 15-year relationship with the studio. Under the seven-figure pact, Appel, who co-creator of The Cleveland Show, will continue as EP on the Family Guy spinoff.

Stephen Reverand has been named senior VP of development and production for specials and events. Christine Weber has also been named as a VP of the division.

Maira Suro has joined Universal Cable Productions as SVP, development and current programming, reports the Hollywood Reporter.  UCP — the production arm of NBCU’s USA and Syfy — has promoted Christina Sanagustin to svp development and current programming. Tom Lieber was upped to director of current and development, and Korin Huggins was named current and development manager.

Corporate Changes

Bear Fisher, Leigh Anne Gardner and Mark Scheider have been promoted at Comcast Entertainment Group. Fisher was named SVP, creator director at E! and Style. Gardner was named SVP, print and online design, and Scheider was promoted to VP, print and online design.

Laura Caraccioli-Davis is leaving her longtime post as EVP at Publicis Groupe’s Starcom USA to go to Electus, the entertainment joint venture of Barry Diller’s IAC and former NBC Entertainment executive Ben Silverman, reports Ad Age.

Michelle Alban has been promoted to VP, corporate communications and public affairs at NBC Universal-owned Spanish-language broadcaster Telemundo.

Station Switches

Dennis Leonard, who left his general manager post at WBRC Birmingham in 2008 to co-locate and oversee Tribune’s KDVR-KWGN Denver duopoly, is stepping down from the Fox-CW setup to return home to Alabama. Local TV has appointed Senior Vice President, Operations Lynda King as Denver’s interm GM as it looks for Leonard’s replacement.

A dozen production workers at KPTV Portland, Ore., are getting laid off this April due to newscast automation, reports Oregon Media Central.

Journalism Jumps

Tom Bettag is the new senior executive producer of CNN’sSunday morning political program,State of the Union with Candy Crowley.  Bettag is a veteran of ABC News, where he was last Ted Koppel’s producer on Nightline.

CharlieGasparino is leaving CNBC to join Fox Business Net, reports TVNewser.

KXAS anchor Jane McGarry is moving off the 10 p.m. desk to anchor 5 and 6 p.m. with Mike Snyder. Meredith Land and Brian Curtis will anchor NBC-owned KXAS’ 10 p.m. news, reports Uncle Barky’s Bytes.

Eric Maze has been named news director at WFTX Ft. Myers, Fla. He comes to the station from NBC affiliate KSHB Kansas City, Mo.

John Moore – long-time anchor, reporter and news director at Newport-owned ABC affiliate WWTI Watertown, N.Y. — is moving to United Communication’s CBS affiliate WWNY at the end of February.

John Fortney is taking over as KOLN/KGIN Lincoln, Neb.’s evening news co-anchor along with Serese Cole. Fortney previously anchored weekend newscasts at WBNS Columbus, Ohio. KOLN/KGIN also said last week that its evening anchor, Jon Vanderford, will co-anchor morning newscasts with his wife, Taryn, starting today (Monday, Feb. 15).

Marty Levin, anchor at NBC-owned KNSD San Diego, will retire at the end of May.

Two Austin-based reporters — KVUE’s Clara Tuma and KXAN’s Jenny Hoff – are leaving their posts, reports Austin360.com. Tuma’s last day is Feb. 12, while Hoff will remain in her position through April.

Tech Trades

Harris Morris has been named president of Harris Corp.’s broadcast communications business, filling the post left vacant when Tim Thorsteinson retired in October. Previously, Morris served as VP and GM of the media and workflow area of the broadcast communications business.

Veteran consultants/broadcasters Dean Bunting and Shirley Brice have joined forced to create The Videon Group. The Videon Group provides custom-tailored consulting packages including research, talent coaching, news consulting, marketing, flow studies, sales training and appearance consultation.


Cable chiefs Steve Koonin, president of Turner Entertainment Networks; Peter Liguori, chief operating officer of Discovery Communications; Michael Lombardo, president of programming and West Coast operations, Home Box Office; Joshua Sapan, president and chief executive officer of Rainbow Media Holdings; Van Toffler, president of MTV Networks Music/Films/Logo Group, and Lauren Zalaznick, president of NBC Universal Women and Lifestyle Entertainment Networks will address the Hollywood Radio and Television Society at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel on Tues., Feb. 23.

KSHB Kansas City’s Peggy Phillip, News 8 Austin’s Kevin Benz, WCVB Boston’s Andrew Vrees, WMSI-WQJQ-WJDX Jackson (radio)’s Randy Bell and KOA Denver (radio)’s Kathy Walker have been elected regional directors on the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) board. All hold the title of news director. They’ll serve for two years.


Forecast Broadcasting owner Kerby Confer; Fritts Group Chairman and former NAB President/CEO Eddie Fritts; Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard, LLP partner Wade H. Hargrove; on-air personality Hal Jackson; global media executive I. Martin Pompadur, and Bonneville International President/CEO Bruce T. Reese all have been named recipients of the 2010 Ward L. Quaal Pioneer Awards.  The Pioneer Awards are given annually in recognition of overarching career contributions to the broadcast industry and to the community. The awards will be presented at a breakfast ceremony at Las Vegas’ Bellagio Hotel during the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show on Apr. 14.

In Memoriam

Deadliest Catch Captain Phil Harris, 53, died last week after enduring a massive stroke on Jan. 29, according to Discovery Channel.

Bryan Thielke, assistant manager at KIRO Seattle, died last Monday, at 58 after losing a three-year battle with pancreatic cancer.

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.