Fates & Fortunes Round-Up: Jan. 25 - Feb. 8, 201

Events I’m looking forward to this week: Ellen finally joins American Idol, if only she had been there for the Pants on the Ground segment; more more more Lost; and a nostalgic return to Survivor with Heroes v. Villains. Go Boston Rob! Show Russell who’s boss!

Yeah, I watch way too much TV, but as I love to say: it’s my job.

As always, you can follow Fates on Twitter @BCFates or me personally @PaigeA if you don’t mind constant tweets on Lost’s last season (at least until Top Chef returns in April). Forward fates to me at BCFates@gmail.com or at palbiniak@gmail.com.

Big Kahunas

As expected, Lifetime President and CEO Andrea Wong (pictured left) is exiting, reportedly to be replaced by History Channel’s President and GM Nancy Dubuc.

Longtime Disney-ABC executive Mark Pedowitz is departing. Pedowitz will set up his production banner, Pine Street Productions, at Warner Bros. TV. He had been at Disney for 19 years, heading up ABC Studios from 2004-2009 until leadership of the studio and ABC network were consolidated under Steve McPherson.

Two of the country’s biggest station groups have made changes at the top. Gannett EVP/CFO Gracia Martore has been named company president/COO, continuing to serve as CFO until a successor is named. The move allows Martore to handle Gannett’s day-to-day operations, while Chairman/CEO Craig Dubow focuses on long-term strategic planning. Meredith Corp. has nominated CEO Steve Lacy as chairman of the board, replacing William T. Kerr.

Ezra Kucharz has been named president of CBS Local Digital Media, starting Feb. 16. In his new post, he’s responsible for conceiving and executing the company’s local online media strategy utilizing the combined assets and digital operations of CBS’s 29 television stations and CBS Radio’s 36 news, sports and talk stations, said CBS. Prior to this, he was president/GM at FiLife.com, a personal joint venture between IAC and Dow Jones.

Programming Prospects

Ryan O’Hara, president of TV Guide Network and TV Guide.com, is leaving, effective immediately, to take a new position in New York. The eight-year TV Guide vet exits nine months after Lionsgate acquired the TV Guide Network and brought in One Equity Partners as a partner. Just one month ago, Diane Robina was named EVP of development, acquisition and programming strategy at the network, while remaining president of Lionsgate’s FEARnet. TV Guide Network and TV Guide.com continue under Lionsgate Co-Chairman/CEO Jon Feltheimer and TV Guide Network Board Chairman Allen Shapiro.

Flavio Morales has beem promoted to SVP, programming and production for Hispanic network mun2.  Morales joined mun2 in February 2005 as VP, programming. Prior to joining mun2, Morales served as the director of programming and music for LATV, of which he was a founding member.

Ramon Escobar has been named EVP of Telemundo Network news, the NBCU-owned company announced Monday, Feb. 8. Escobar joins Telemundo from Sucherman Consulting Group, where he was VP, consulting, for the last two years.

John Griffin has been promoted to SVP programming for Spike TV. He had been VP programming, a position he has held since 2005.

Shana C. Waterman and James Oh have been promoted to VPs, current programming at Fox. Additionally, David Sleven has been appointed director of current programming.

Corporate Changes

Shari Anne Brill is out as SVP, director of programming at Carat, reports MediaPost. Brill follows other recent notables, including former Interpublic/Magna research chief Steve Sternberg and former ZenithOptimedia research chief Bruce Goerlich.

Charles R. Schueler has been promoted to EVP, communications and community relations at Cablevision. He previously was SVP, media and community relations.

Sharan Magnuson (pictured right), Warner Bros.’ always reasonable and reliable PR queen, is departing her post as SVP of worldwide publicity for the Warner Bros. TV group. Magnuson’s been struggling with her health after having four surgeries on her neck in four years. I’m a blogger in this space so I can this: Sharan’s always been a joy to work with and I look forward to the day she’s back working in the biz. Or, if she’d prefer, the day I join her diving in the Maldives. Best of health to you, Sharan!

Rob Deichert has been named SVP of digital advertising operations at The Weather Channel, based in NYC. Most recently, Deichert served as AOL’s SVP, global sales development.

Brian Doherty has been promoted to The CW’s SVP, national sales, based in NYC. Previously, he was The CW’s VP of national sales. Doherty has been with The CW since its start in 2006, and prior to that had been a sales exec for The WB since 1999.

Mark Lapidus has been promoted to VP, digital media, at Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic, based in Bethesda, Md. Lapidus has been with Comcast SportsNet since 2007, when he joined as director of marketing.

Station Switches

Vincent Cordero has resigned as VP/GM at the Univision-Telefutura duopoly in Chicago, WGBO and WXFT. No replacement has been named. Cordero took over the stations five years ago at the age of 33. A native of Los Angeles, he had a long run at Univision, starting as an executive trainee before eventually moving up to VP of business development and labor affairs, and then moving to Chicago to run the stations.

Brian D. Sather, GSM at Hearst’s KETV Omaha, has been named president/GM at Fayetteville-Ft. Smith (AR) duopoly, KHBS-KHOG. For 13 years Sather rose through KETV’s ranks, first as national sales manager, then local sales manager, then general sales manager.  Prior to joining Hearst, Sather served as local sales manager at KTTW Sioux Falls, SD.  He began his TV career in news, serving as a photojournalist and held various newsroom positions at KELO Sioux Falls. KHBS and KHOG are ABC affiliates, as is KETV.

Steve Lange has been named VP, content, at NBCU-owned KNBC Los Angeles. Lange previously was news director at CBS-owned WBBM Chicago, as well as executive editor at WCBS NY, EP at Warner Bros.’ syndicated access magazine Extra, EP at Weller Grossman Productions and, coming full circle, assistant news director at KNBC.  Most recently, Lange was the head of his own production company.

Keith Esparros also has been named director of content. Esparros previously was the station’s assistant news director and the station’s Managing Editor.

Journalism Jumps

CNN senior political correspondent Candy Crowley (pictured left) has been named anchor of State of the Union, the cable news network’s Sunday political affairs program. Crowley replaces John King, who is departing to host the 7 p.m. weeknight primetime show formerly anchored by Lou Dobbs. Crowley officially took the reins on Sunday, Feb. 7, with the hour-long show airing at 9 a.m. and again at noon.

CNN Wall Street reporter Susan Lisovicz is leaving the network after her contract was not renewed, reported TVNewser.

Geraldine Moriba, former producer of Dateline NBC, is the new executive producer of CNN’s “In America” division, reports TVNewser. Moriba was at NBC for 16 years and was most recently senior producer for Broadcast Standards. She had worked on Dateline for 12 years.

WCPO Cincinnati Assistant News Director Jeff Brogan has been named news director at WPTV West Palm Beach. Both are Scripps stations. Prior to his long stint at WCPO, Brogan worked at WXIX Cincinnati as a producer and assignment editor. Brogan’s tentative start date is Feb. 23. He replaces Peter Roghaar, who shifted to WTSP Tampa in the fall.

D.C. Denizens

Richard Bates, an in-house exec and former top Democrat, has been named successor to Preston Padden as Disney’s SVP , government relations. Padden is transitioning out of the post of head of Disney’s DC office, planning his exit at the end of this year. He’ll go on to work as senior fellow at the Silicon Flatirons Center at the University of Colorado Law School and as an adjunct professor there (shameless plug: in beautiful Boulder, my hometown).


Television Bureau of Advertising (TVB) Executive VP Abby Auerbach has added chief marketing officer to her title.  She joined the trade association in June 2000 as senior VP of marketing and was promoted to executive VP in September 2000.

In Memoriam

Frank Magid, namesake of the media consultancy Frank N. Magid Associates, passed away on Saturday, Feb. 6, in Santa Barbara, California. He was 78 and had been suffering from lymphoma. Magid retired from Magid Associates in 2002 but held an honorary chairman title. Magid Associates consults for numerous stations across the country and provides other professional services ranging from executive coaching to e-commerce consulting. Magid’s son Brent succeeded him as CEO upon his retirement.  He’s survived by Brent, his other son Creighton, his wife Marilyn, his brother Gail, and four grandchildren.

James H. Quello, former commissioner and interim chairman of the FCC and always a good friend of B&C, died Jan. 25 of heart and kidney failure at his home in Alexandria, Va. He was 95. Quello., who served on the commission for more than 23 years, had most recently been a public policy consultant for Wiley Rein, working alongside another former FCC Chairman, Richard Wiley. Survivors include his sons, James M. and Richard B. Quello, his wife, Kim, granddaughters Susan Butler Quello and Diane Watson, and a great granddaughter, Bethany Watson.

Hawaiian congressman and broadcaster Cec Heftel died on Thursday, Feb. 4, in San Diego, according to his family. He was 85 and died of natural causes. Heftel made his fortune in the radio and television industries, and was one of Honolulu’s most successful broadcasters. He also served in the U.S. Congress from 1976-86.

Justin Mentell, an actor who appeared on Boston Legal, was killed in a SUV crash in Wisconsin last Monday, Feb. 1. Mentell was 27.

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.