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Fates & Fortunes Weekly Round-Up: August 17, 2009

Here’s this week’s round-up of who’s coming and going in the media industry.

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Big Kahunas

Tribune’s many creditors want to force investor Sam Zell out of the company and Zell himself may be looking for an honorable way out of the deal that became a debaucle, the Chicago Sun Times reported on Friday. Zell has until November 30 to present Tribune’s creditors with a reorganization plan, while creditors come up with their own suggestions. Zell took Tribune Co. private in late 2007, giving the company a nearly unsustainable debt load right before the advertising market collapsed. Tribune declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy in December 2008. The Sun Times reports that creditors plan to takeover and sell off the company’s newspapers and broadcast stations. Tribune tried that plan prior to bringing in Zell, but didn’t have much luck finding buyers in this challenged media environment.

Univision Communications president and COO Ray Rodriguez is retiring, the company confirmed Aug. 14. Cesar Conde has been promoted to president of Univision Networks while CEO Joe Uva will add responsibilities as president. Rodriguez, 58, has spent 20 years of his career at the Spanish-language media giant and has overseen its TV, radio and online assets. He began his career in 1990 when the company was owned by Hallmark Network. He worked his way up from senior VP of the network to president of the entire multiplatform company. Rodriguez will retire at the end of the year.

Granite Broadcasting Chairman/CEO Don Cornwell and COO John Deushane are both stepping down.  Peter Markham, a Granite board member since 2007, will take over as chairman. Duane Lammers, a consultant to the company, has been named COO. Cornwell founded the company along with Stuart Beck in 1988 after spending 17 years in the investment banking division of Goldman Sachs. Under Cornwell’s leadership, Granite grew through acquisitions to become a 23-channel group which reached 11 markets and penetrated six percent of U.S. TV households. Deushane began his career at WEEK Peoria (Ill.) in the mid-1970s. He served as a general manager of KSEE Fresno (Calif.), KEYE Austin, KRCG Columbia/Jefferson City (Mo.) and WEEK.  He was named COO of the station group in 2002.

Tad Smith is joining Cablevision Systems Corporation as president of the company’s newly-created local media group. Smith had been CEO of the U.S. division of Reed Business Information, which owns B&C, as well as Daily Variety, Multichannel News, Publisher’s Weekly and other titles.  In his new role, Smith will oversee Newsday Media Group and News 12 Networks, and will report to Cablevision COO Tom Rutledge.

Ibra Morales, formerly of Liberman Broadcasting and Telemundo, is rejoining Katz Television Group to sell local TV — and its new Web and mobile platforms — to national advertisers. Previously, Morales was vice president of network operations at Liberman Broadcasting’s Estrella TV, a 24-hour Spanish-language network. Prior to that, Morales was president of NBC Universal-owned Telemundo, departing in May 2008. He also served as president of Katz TV’s Eagle Television Sales from 1999 to 2002. At Katz, Morales will be a senior vice president leading a marketing team of senior executives that already includes Peter Chrisanthopoulous and Rob Russo.

Corporate Changes

Adrienne LoRay was named senior vice president of human resources at the Fox Television Stations. LoRay will be responsible for all personnel functions for the 27 Fox owned-and-operated stations, Fox Stations Sales, Twentieth Television and MyNetworkTV. Previously, LoRay was FTS’ regional vice president of human resources. LoRay joined FTS In 1997. She was promoted to regional vice president in 1998.

Mark J. Kern was named senior vice president of communications and media relations at Crown Media Holdings. Kern previously provided strategic media and public relations services as an independent communications consultant, with clients such as Ovation TV, ReelzChannel, Sparkler Entertainment Ventures, Lorne Michaels’ Broadway Video Digital Media and Broadway Video Entertainment, The Hatchery and Burke, Rix, Hines & Associates. Prior to that, he was senior vice president of communications and publicity at the Hallmark Channel, which Crown owns. He’s also served as vice president of corporate relations for Fox Broadcasting Company. Kern graduated from Kent State University’s School of Journalism.

Gospel Music Channel has hired Corey Prince as director of human resources. Previously, Prince was a regional human resources manager for Cox Media in Atlanta.

Andy Hunn has been appointed vice president of strategic partnerships at Eclipse Marketing Services, which provides creative direct marketing solutions for the cable TV and entertainment industries.

Hollywood Happenings

American Idol’s Mean Judge, Simon Cowell, is close to signing back on to the show for three more years at a reported annual salary of $45 million, up from his previous salary of $36 million annually.

Programming Promotions

Nicky Weinstock will head both the comedy film and television departments at former News Corp. CEO’s Peter Chernin’s new company, housed at Fox, according to Nikki Finke at Deadline Hollywood Daily. He’ll report to former NBC Universal bigwig Katherine Pope in the TV department and Dylan Clark in the film department. Weinstock comes to Chernin’s company from Judd Apatow’s Apatow Productions, where he’d been since the end of 2007. Weinstock and Chernin had a long-standing relationship, with Weinstock serving as Chernin’s speechwriter and vice president of News Corp. corporate communications. He then became vice president of comedy development at 20th Century Fox TV before leaving to join Hollywood’s hottest comedy producer, Apatow. While working for Apatow, Weinstock produced Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Stepbrothers, Pineapple Express, Funny People, and Get Him To The Greek, which is due out next year. Weinstock, a novelist in his spare time, will continue to be based in Los Angeles. Chernin also has brought on Mike Larocca, formerly of Spyglass Entertainment, as vice president, and Lauren Stein, formerly of Universal Media Studios, to be senior vice president of drama on the TV side. Stein is best known for developing NBC’s Lipstick Jungle and Life, both of which are now cancelled. She also was responsible for this fall’s new series, Mercy, before being laid off last December.

Ronald Goes was named executive vice president and head of international television production at Warner Bros. International Television Distribution in London. Most recently, Goes was a member of the supervisory board at RTL Nederland B.V., after having been CEO of Talpa Media Holding N.V., the Dutch media holding company of executive John de Mol. Prior to that, Goes was chief operating officer and member of the executive board of directors of Endemol N.V., for four years. At Endemol, Goes was responsible for worldwide operations.Before that, he spent five years at SBS Broadcasting B.V. as a member of the executive board of directors/business management. He also was chief executive officer of RTL 4 Productions B.V., after serving as the company’s financial controller.

Anna Gecan, former vice president of content at HGTV Canada, will move to the U.S. to become vice president, original programming, HGTV, effective Sept. 1. In this new role, Gecan will oversee the network’s Knoxville, Tenn., and New York-based production teams, operating from New York and reporting to Freddy James, senior vice president of program development and production.

Scott Williams is The Weather Channel’s newest on-camera meteorologist. Most recently, Williams was a meteorologist at Raycom’s CBS affiliate WCSC Charleston, S.C., where he worked weeknights for Live 5 News.  Prior to WCSC, he was the morning meteorologist at Max Media’s CBS affiliate KYTX Tyler, TX. He also was a meteorology instructor at Duke University’s Talent Identification Program.

Station Swaps

Jim Kauffman was named Vice President of Engineering and Operations for KTTV FOX 11 and KCOP My 13, announced Kevin Hale, the stations’ Vice President and General Manager.  Effective August 24, Kauffman will be responsible for oversight and management of the stations’ engineering operations and production facilities, reporting to Hale.

Dave Reynolds, former sportscaster at Media General’s WFLA Tampa Bay, is returning to on-air work as a freelancer, including WFLA, where he once worked full-time. There, he’ll help the station cover the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers. As a contract worker, Reynolds also has worked for Kane’s Furniture to Bright House Sports Network and Scripps-owned ABC affiliate WFTS, which has not renewed the contract of its lead sports anchor, Al Keck.

Journalism Jumps

Sara Gore, Siafa Lewis and Michael Flocker have been named hosts WNBC’s LX New York, a one-hour live daily lifestyle and entertainment show that will make its debut September 14th at 5PM.

David Novarro named morning co-anchor at WFLD Chicago, according to the Chicago Tribune’s Phil Rosenthal. Novarro will co-anchor with Jan Jeffcoat from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., replacing Mike Barz, who left the station last month after an investigation into an off-hours, off-site party with co-workers. Patrick Elwood, who had been co-anchoring the 6 a.m. hour with Jeffcoat, will co-anchor the noon news with Nancy Loo.Novarro had been expected to leave the station because the 10 p.m. newscast he launched in 2007, The Ten, will end this fall and be replaced with repeats of NBC Universal’s The Office.

Kim Sanders, traffic reporter for WKMG, is leaving the station, according to the Orlando Sentinel’s Hal Boedeker. Sanders won the job in a 2007 talent search, beating out more than 400 hopefuls.

Sean McLaughlin has been promoted to main news anchor at Meredith’s CBS affiliate KPHO Phoenix, where he formerly was chief meteorologist and news anchor. McLaughlin will join Catherine Anaya on the 5 and 10 p.m. newscasts and continue his current 6:30 p.m. assignment. McLaughlin replaces Kent Dana. Chris Dunn will replace McLaughlin as chief meteorologist, joining the station from Local TV’s Fox affiliate KDVR Denver.

Stanton Tang has been named news and information director for Gannett’s ABC affiliate WZZM Grand Rapids. Tang was on the management team under former vice president/news director Tim Geraghty, who left WZZM in May after being named corporate vice president/information director for Gannett’s KXTV Sacramento, Calif. Tang has held the post of executive producer at WZZM since December 2005.

Lane Michaelsen is joining NBC’s WTVJ Miami as its vice president news and content. Lane replaces Yvette Miley, who took a job at MSNBC in New York earlier this year. Michaelsen comes to the station from Gannett’s WUSA Washington where he was vice president of the information center.


Michelle Duke has been promoted to vice president of the National Association of Broadcasters Education Foundation, said NABEF President Marcellus Alexander on Monday, Aug. 10.