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Fates & Fortunes Round-Up: Jan. 19-24, 2010

Having spent most of this week at the NATPE convention in Las Vegas, I’m playing a little F&F catch-up. Key announcements include Neil Smit named president of Comcast Cable, and Nick Brien named CEO of Interpublic Group’s McCann Worldgroup.

As always, you can follow Fates on Twitter @BCFates or me personally @PaigeA – most of my tweets are TV-related. This week, I’m prepping for my coming obsession with the last season of Lost. Forward fates to me at or at

Big Kahunas

Charter CEO Neil Smit (pictured left) is becoming president of Comcast Cable, reporting to Comcast COO Steve Burke. Before joining Charter in 2005, Smit headed up Time Warner’s America Online Internet-access service, and was with AOL before that.

Nick Brien has been named CEO of Interpublic Group’s McCann Worldgroup, one of Madison Avenue’s most powerful jobs. He begins his new role overseeing a company with around $30 billion in global billings on April 1. Brien currently is CEO of Mediabrands.

Programming Prospects

Rob Faris has been named SVP, programming and production, of Outside Television, an active lifestyle network formed in partnership with Outside Magazine publisher Mariah Media and Resort Sports Network, that launches in June. Prior to joining Outside, Faris was EP at Cablevision-owned Voom HD. Before that, he was a member of NBC’s Emmy-winning producing team at the Summer Olympic Games in Athens; a producer at Madison Square Garden; and a feature producer at ESPN where he was part of the Emmy- and Peabody-winning Sports Century series.

Comedian Steve Harvey will be the new host of Debmar-Mercury’s Family Feud when it begins its 12th season this fall. Harvey, one of “The Original Kings of Comedy,” is perhaps best known to audiences from his time starring in The Steve Harvey Show, which aired on The WB from 1996 to 2002. Harvey also hosts The Steve Harvey Morning Show, a nationally syndicated radio program that is heard daily by more than seven million listeners in more than 64 markets nationwide. Harvey replaces John O’Hurley, who began his run on the daily game show in 2006.

Corporate Changes

Andrew Zein has been named SVP, creative, format development and sales at Warner Bros. International Television Distribution. WBITD also has retained the services of Oege Boonstra and his consulting firm, Boonstra Management.  Zein joins WBITD after nearly 13 years at Tiger Aspect Productions (TAP), one of the UK’s leading television producers.

Christine Haynes has joined Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic as New York-based national sales manager. Prior to joining Comcast SportsNet, Haynes was national sales manager for The Comcast Network, overseeing national sales for the Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Boston markets. Previously, she had account executive and supervisor positions with HRP Television Sales, Major Market News, Media Edge and Optimedia.

Puja Vohra has been named VP, ad sales marketing and Maribel Vizcarra has been named director, ad sales marketing at Oxygen Media. Vohra previously was at Discovery where she helped launch Planet Green. Prior to that, she was VP of ad sales marketing at NBCU-owned Bravo, a sister network to Oxygen. Vizcarra comes to Oxygen from Telemundo where she was manager of ad sales marketing.

Station Switches

WTEV-WAWS Jacksonville VP/GM Jeff Whitson departed the duop last week, confirms business manager Tim Ford. Ford says no successor has been named, but that the stations’ managers are working on it and should have a new GM in place “very shortly.”  Ford did not offer a reason for Whitson’s departure.

WTVZ Norfolk GSM Paul Rossi has been upped to general manager at the Sinclair-owned MyNetworkTV affiliate.  Previous WTVS GM Bill Scaffide retired.  Prior to WTVZ, Rossi was the general manager at KFXK/KLPN in Longview, TX.

Marilyn Rangel has been promoted to VP-director of sales for KCBS and KCAL, the CBS-owned duopoly in Los Angeles. This promotion adds KCBS to her portfolio.

Journalism Jumps

Megyn Kelly (pictured right) will anchor her own new two-hour show, titled America Live, beginning Feb. 1. America Live will take the place of The Live Desk. Martha MacCallum, co-host of Live Desk, will take Kelly’s slot hosting America’s Newsroom with Bill Hemmer.

Gregg Moss has returned to Gannett’s KUSA Denver as a business reporter after new hire, KTLA’s Jason Martinez, apparently didn’t work out, reports Denver’s independent Westword Magazine. The details are a bit tricky/scandalous to go into here, so click on the link to learn more.

Shon Gables and Casey Norton each have been hired as weekend anchors at WFAA Dallas, reports Uncle Barky’s Bytes.

Brendan Higgins, morning co-anchor at NBC-owned KXAS Dallas, is departing the station after his contract was not renewed, reported the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram.

Robb Hanrahan is joining Newport’s CBS affil WHP Harrisburg, Pa., reports TVNewscheck. He’ll begin in February. He’s been a news anchor at WFOR Miami, WABC New York and WSVN Miami.

Celeste Perry is KOFY San Francisco’s new weekday morning host. Previously, she was a morning radio show co-host on KFRC-FM San Francisco.

Tech trades

Dennis Breckenridge was named director of sales, Asia Pacific region, for Broadcast Pix. Breckenridge has been part of the Broadcast Pix team for almost three years, most recently serving as key accounts and business development manager.

Cory Factor has been named VP, sales, at broadcast technology firm Quantel’s North American subsidiary. Factor co-founded technology firm DayPort in 1999, and first became involved with Quantel in 2004 when DayPort and Quantel worked closely together at the U.K.’s Rupert Murdoch-owned BSkyB. Following the acquisition of DayPort by Entric (which was subsequently merged with Irdeto) in 2008, Factor took on the role of CTO to lead the Irdeto Solutions Group.

Three executives were laid off at News Corp.-owned MySpace:  VP of media and entertainment technology Kevin Freund, and VPs of engineering Lucas Buck and Sheetal Patel, reports TechCrunch.

D.C. Denizens

Dan Glickman (pictured left) will exit the Motion Picture Association of America April 1, according to the studio trade group, to become president of Refugees International. Bob Pisano, president and COO of MPAA, will be interim CEO. Glickman has been with MPAA since 2004, when he succeeded the late Jack Valenti.


Kevin Beggs, Lionsgate’s president of programming and production, has been elected to serve a third term as chair of the NATPE board of directors. Newly elected members of the 2010 NATPE board include Paul Buccieri, CEO and President, ITV Studios; Emiliano Calemzuk, President, Fox Television Studios; Nancy Dubuc, President & General Manager, History, A&E Television Networks; Alina Falcon,EVP/ Operating Manager, Univision Network; Hans Schiff, Agent, Creative Artists Agency; Eric Schotz, CEO & President, LMNO Productions; and Peter Tortorici, CEO, GroupM Entertainment World Wide.

Bernie Weintraub, longtime agent and one of Paradigm’s founding partners, died Jan. 16 in Los Angeles at the age of 76. Survivors include his wife of 52 years, Ellie; children Danny and Lizzie; daughter-in-law Vinnet; and nephew Irv. In lieu of flowers, donations in Weintraub’s name can be made to the American Israel Cultural Center, the Jewish National Fund or the American Diabetes Assn.

Longtime publicity exec Carla Princi, 54, died Jan. 18 in Toluca Woods, Calif., following a long battle with lung cancer. After a long career in TV publicity, Lifetime Television hired Princi in 2001 as SVP to establish its LA-based publicity department. Princi left Lifetime in 2006 to pursue her dream of becoming a teacher, and earned her credential before being diagnosed with cancer. Princi is survived by two daughters and two sisters. Donations may be made to Lung Cancer Alliance at

Michael Fisher, writer and executive producer on such TV series as Spenser for Hire, Starsky & Hutch, Fantasy Island and Mission: Impossible, died Dec. 31 in Peterborough, N.H. at the age of 69.  In all, he wrote and produced more than 500 hours of primetime TV.  Survivors include his wife, Helen; children Rosie, Molly, Meghan, Damien, Patrick, Colin, John and Bernadette; sister Elaine; brother Richard; nine grandchildren; and niece Monica Fisher, who is vp business and legal affairs at Comcast Entertainment Group in Los Angeles.

Brink Chipman, KSL Salt Lake’s former news director and news consultant, passed away at the age of 66 after a long bout with colon cancer, reports Chipman leaves behind his wife, Bev, and sons Brook and Toby.

John Cater, 32, died of unknown causes on Tuesday, Jan. 19. He was a freelance TV reporter, who worked at Atlanta stations WSB, WXIA and WGCL. He also worked at stations in Pittsburgh, Pa., and Jackson, Miss. He was an active member of the Atlanta Association of Black Journalists and is survived by his mother, Gloria Randolph.

Harry Davis, an award-winning news photographer at WRC Washington, D.C., for 28 years before retiring a few years ago, died suddenly Thursday, Jan. 21 at 62.

James Mitchell, who played Palmer Cortlandt on ABC’s All My Children, died Jan. 22, of pulmonary disease at the age of 89. Mitchell’s final appearance on the soap was on Jan. 5 for the show’s 40th anniversary episode. He is survived by his longtime partner, Albert Wolsky. Memorial services will be held at a later date.

Paige Albiniak
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.