Fates & Fortunes Round-Up: May 3 – May 12, 2010

Call me queasy but I really don’t want to start my day by watching someone’s surgery. If I did — and if I was much, much smarter — I would have become a surgeon. Too bad for me though, on-air surgery is becoming all the rage. GMA’s very fair Sam Champion is the latest to do this, undergoing surgery to remove a cancerous legion from his shoulder on Wednesday, May 12. Champion joins a growing class of newsers who feel that just reporting the news on the air is not enough; they must also reveal their most intimate personal procedures. Harry Smith of CBS’ The Early Show, like Today’s Katie Couric back in 2000, recently underwent an on-air colonoscopy. I appreciate their efforts to raise cancer awareness, I really do, but isn’t there a less squirmy way to go about this?

Anyhoo, now that I’ve revealed what a wimp I am, follow Fates on Twitter @BCFates or me personally @PaigeA, although depending on workload and computer health and efforts to avoid mentions of surgery I’m not always as twittery as I should be. Forward fates to me at BCFates@gmail.com or at palbiniak@gmail.com.

Big Kahunas

Sean Compton was promoted to president of programming at Tribune Broadcasting. Compton arrived at Tribune in 2008 as SVP of programming and entertainment. Compton got his start in programming at 19 as assistant to Randy Michaels, who was brought in by Sam Zell to run Tribune Co. after Zell took the company private in 2007. Michaels and Compton have remained close, with Compton spending six years at Jacor and ten at Clear Channel under Michaels’ leadership.

Programming Prospects

Lourdes Diaz joined NBC Universal as vp, drama programming. Meanwhile, three others have been promoted at the studio: Rebecca McGill was promoted to director of drama programming; Joey Chavez was promoted to manager of drama programming and Mike Nunes was upped to manager of comedy programming.

Michael Thorn has been named SVP, drama development at Twentieth Century Fox Television while Patrick Moran stepped down. Thorn comes to Twentieth from Marty Adelstein’s Lost Marbles TV. Prior to that, he headed drama development at NBC where he helped develop Heroes and Friday Night Lights.

Sharon Levy has been promoted to EVP, original series and animation, at Spike TV.  Levy joined Spike in 2005 and has overseen the development of such series as Deadliest Warrior, Pros vs. Joes, 1000 Ways to Die, MANswers, 4th and Long, DEA, MXC and weekend afternoon auto-themed shows, The Power Block. Prior to joining Spike, Levy worked at Stone & Co. Entertainment (formally known as Stone Stanley Entertainment) from 2000-05 as EVP programming and executive producer.

Wayne Sampson has been named VP, development at dick clark productions, focusing on reality programming. Sampson comes from Discovery Channel where he served as the director, development and production for Discovery’s West Coast office.

Jimmy Fallon will host this year’s Primetime Emmy Awards, which will air Aug. 29 on NBC. “Hosting the Emmys has been a dream of mine ever since they told me I was doing it,” Fallon noted.

Tennis legend John McEnroe will remain the Tennis Channel’s lead analyst for its French Open coverage through 2013. McEnroe also commentates on Grand Slam tennis events for CBS, NBC, USA and ESPN. In his professional tennis career, McEnroe won 77 singles titles and 78 doubles titles, including four US Open and three Wimbledon championships.  He was inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame in 1999.

Journalism Jumps

As ABC News goes through the process of down-sizing, more changes came to the news division, reports TVNewser.

Dimitrije Stejic will be deputy foreign managing editor based in London, reporting to Tom Nagorski, newly named foreign managing editor. David Herndon will be Western deputy managing editor based in LA and Wendy Fisher will be Eastern deputy managing editor based in New York. Both Herndon and Fisher will report to David Reiter, domestic managing editor, who also was just named to his post a few weeks ago. Michael Kreisel is the division’s new Planning Manager.

In on-air changes, Bianna Golodryga has been named the co-anchor of the weekend edition of Good Morning America, while ABC News medical correspondent John McKenzie is leaving the network after taking a buyout.

Golodryga replaces Kate Snow, who left ABC News earlier this year for NBC News. Golodryga will join co-anchor Bill Weir, news anchor Ron Claiborne and weather anchor Marysol Castro. Golodryga joined ABC News in 2007. She is engaged to Obama Administration economic adviser Peter Orszag.

McKenzie was brought to ABC News by the late Peter Jennings in 1980 from Canada’s CTV. He’s been the network’s medical science reporter for the past 15 years.

The New York Times’Louise Story, who will remain with the newspaper as a financial reporter, has been named contributing editor at Bloomberg Television.

Angela Taylor joins KHBS/KHOG Ft. Smith/Fayetteville, Ark. as a news anchor/reporter on June 28. Taylor will co-anchor weeknights at 5, 6 and 10 p.m., with Craig Cannon. Taylor comes to the station, which brands its news 40/29 News, from KTAB Abilene, Texas, where she was an anchor, reporter and producer for the station’s 5, 6, and 10 p.m. news. Prior to that, she did the same job in San Angelo, Texas.

Mike Brooksone of the two original hosts of Better Mornings, is leaving to be closer to his family in Florida, Steve Schwaid, news director at Meredith’s CBS affiliate WGCL Atlanta, told blogger Rodney Ho. KTLA Los Angeles’ Brandon Rudat will replace Brooks.

Station Switches

Betsy Swanson is adding the title of EVP of technical operations to her current title of EVP/CFO at the Fox Television Stations (FTS). Swanson has been the group’s EVP/CFO since 2004. Prior to that, she was SVP/finance for the stations and the Fox Regional Sports Network since June 2000, and VP/finance since 1992. She joined Fox in 1988 as director of financial planning and reporting.

Also at FTS, Earl Arbuckle has been promoted to SVP/engineering, announced Swanson, his boss. Arbuckle joined News Corp. in 1996 as VP/engineering for the short-lived ASkyB satellite venture, and then moved to FTS in 1997. Prior to joining News Corp., Arbuckle was with Tribune for 18 years. He also served in the U.S. Navy, reaching the rank of lieutenant.

WBNS Columbus News Director John Cardenas has been named VP/GM at WTHR Indianapolis, an NBC affiliate owned by Dispatch Broadcast Group. He succeeds Jim Tellus, who passed away unexpectedly in March. Prior to coming to Columbus, the Bolivian-born Cardenas was news director at KPHO Phoenix.

Corporate changes

Tim Boell has been named group VP and sales group lead and Andy Hunter has been promoted to chief marketing officer at premium multiplatform channel Epix. Most recently, Boell was SVP of sales and affiliate marketing at Sundance, and prior to that was at Showtime. Hunter previously was Epix’ SVP/business development. He also worked for MTV Networks for more than ten years. Epix also has expanded its sales and marketing team, naming Lara Salamano, VP; Mike Gnojewski, Director; Ally Cantor, Director; Shane Bookmiller, Manager; Andy Rogers, Manager; Matt DePersis, Coordinator; Sarah Ray, Coordinator; and Nicole Valencia, Assistant.  Additional dedicated staffers on the distribution side are:  Jeff Arthur; Danielle Salzedo; Cathy Lewis; and Ryan Witt.

Brad Westermann and Tim Russell each have been named SVP/national sales managers at TV Guide Network, while Christine Georgakakis was named SVP/direct response. Ian Wallin was promoted to SVP/national sales for TV Guide Online, and Michele Robinson was promoted to VP/direct response ad sales. Westerman joined TV Guide Network in 2006, previously working in sales at Court TV, A&E, History, CNN and Headline News. Russell joined the network in 2008, coming on as VP/national sales. Previously he was a sales VP at Tennis Channel and CNN. Georgakakis spent ten years at Lifetime and then launched direct-response ad firm Worldlink’s New York sales office. Wallin is a digital vet, having begun his career in 1995 selling ads for the long-defunct dial-up network Prodigy and then spending a decade at Microsoft in digital ad sales. Robinson has been with TV Guide for more than a decade, having started with the network when it was the Prevue Channel.

Paul Davis-Miller has been named SVP/fiction at BBC Worldwide’s sales and distribution division. He joins Greg Johnson, who last week was named SVP/factual, sales & distribution for the BBC’s commercial arm. Bob Traub has been named BBC Worldwide’s VP/retail development for the Americas.

Nathaniel Brownhas joined MTV Networks as VP/corporate communications, reports PRNewser. Previously, he was SVP/corporate communications for XM Satellite Radio and VP/corporate communications for Sony/BMG.

Beth Stein, JC Cancedda and Lele Engler all have been promoted at Sundance Channel. Stein was named VP/marketing, Cancedda was upped to VP/brand strategy and creative and Engler became director/marketing and media.

Matthew Frankel, formerly of Rainbow Media and Cablevision, has been named Current Media’s SVP/corporate communications. Most recently, Frankel served as a PR consultant, working for such companies as Ion Media and others. Courtney Menzel also has been named Current’s EVP/Distribution. Previously, Menzel  spent 14 years at MTV Networks, most recently as SVP/content distribution and marketing.

Rick Hagopian will serve as director of business development for Comcast SportsNet New England and Comcast Sports Group. Annie Peters is adding Comcast SportsNet New England to her existing portfolio at NECN and will serve as national sales manager for both networks.

Continental Television’s Alexis Hoffman has been promoted to team sales manager for the Dallas Stars. Hoffman joined Continental as a sales assistant in 2004, leaving for a bit to work as a media buyer for Fletcher Martin. She returned to Continental in 2006 to work as an account exec on the Atlanta Rebles.

Multiplatform Moves

Tribune Media Services — which provides TV listings for print and online platforms and syndicates content, among other things  –promoted several execs. Jay Fehnel moved up to SVP/COO, entertainment products, from VP. Mike Gart jumped to SVP/finance and CFO from VP/finance and CFO. Walter Mahoney was named SVP at MCT Global Information Services, up from VP, MCT Global Information Services. John Zelenka was promoted to SVP/business development of news and features from VP/business development and news and features.

At TMS’ Entertainment Products Division, six gained their VP stripes. Rebecca Baldwin added GM to her VP title at Zap2It.com. Ken Carter is now VP and managing director title at International Entertainment Information. Dana Gage moved up from executive director of marketing. John Kelleher is now VP and GM at entertainment information. Lanna Langlois moved to VP from executive director of finance in entertainment information. And Kathy Tolstrup is now VP, sales and marketing in that division, up from GM.

Finally, Tribune Technology – another division of TMS – promoted Melissa White to managing director and technology architect from executive director/IT.

NBC Local Media added two VPs in its digital organization. Anil Podduturi joined NBC LM as VP/product strategy while Pranav Kamkhalia was promoted to VP/product development. Podduturi comes to NBC from Daylife, where he developed Web publishing solutions for newspapers and magazines. He also managed MSN’s sports sites and oversaw MTV’s social media efforts. Kamkhalia has been with NBC since 2005, and most recently was director/development of software engineering in the digital products and services group.

Shahid Khan has joined digital media measurement company MediaMorph as chairman and chief strategist. Khan comes to the company from IBB Consulting Group where he was a senior partner. Prior to that he was the head of entertainment industry practices at KPMG Consulting/Bearing Point.

Tech Trades

Robert Furlong is the new CEO/president for VCI Solutions, a traffic and automation software vendor Furlong comes to VCI from station group Freedom Broadcasting, and fills the void left when Sarah Foss left the company in late February. Furlong previously was VP/GM of Freedom’s WRGB/WCWN Albany since 2004 and a VCI customer. Prior to that, he was VP/GM at Meredith-owned KPHO in Phoenix, and VP/GM of United’s KUTP Phoenix and KTVX Salt Lake City.

DC Denizens

Barbara Esbin, senior fellow at DC’s Progress & Freedom Foundation, has joined law firm Cinnamon Mueller, perhaps the only law firm in the world whose name also sounds like a strip club. Espin will head the firm’s Washington office and will head the team representing the American Cable Association at the FCC and other agencies.  Before joining PFF, Esbin spent 14 years at the FCC, in both the Media and Cable Services Bureau.

Lobbyist Megan Delany, VP and senior counsel, federal government relations, Charter Communications, has left the building, her assistant confirmed to B&C’s John Eggerton on Wednesday, May 5. Delaney apparently resigned and didn’t just leave early to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. Delany had been with Charter since 2006, filling a lobbying post that had been vacant for three years prior.

Colin Crowell, senior counselor to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and former top aide to Congressman Ed Markey (D-Mass), is exiting the FCC next month after less than a year in the post, though it was a year of producing a broadband plan that he was instrumental in getting Congress to mandate.


Jose E. Tocasuche was named Director of ad sales research for Discovery Latin America and Discovery en Espanol, reports Cynopsis.  Jose relocated from New York City to Miami.

In Memoriam

Baton Rouge TV personality Ed Buggs, 55, passed away in his home on Tuesday, May 4. Buggs was a long time anchor at WBRZ Baton Rouge, where he was the first African-American to serve in that position. He’s survived by his brother, Clarence.

Jon Esther, anchor at WCPO Cincinnati anchor, died May 8 in Owensboro, Ohio. Esther, 72, was an anchor/reporter at the station from 1977 to 1985.  He lived in Owensboro with his wife of 51 years, Dorothy.

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.