Fates & Fortunes Weekly Round-Up: July 31, 2009

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

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Programming Promotions

Valerie Schaer was named EVP of creative development for Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Productions. Only a bit ironically, Schaer comes to Harpo from David Letterman’s Worldwide Pants Inc., where she was EVP of production, development, new media and business development. Letterman and Winfrey were once rumored to have a long-running feud, although Winfrey said to Letterman when she made an appearance on his late-night talk show in December 2005: “Could you tell me please what has transpired? I have never for a moment had a feud with you.” Schaer, who will remain in New York, starts at Chicago-based Harpo on August 17, where she work in partnership with Harriet Seitler, EVP of marketing and development. The pair will work to create new opportunities for Harpo on all platforms.

Andrew Plotkin was named SVP of original programming at NBC Universal-owned Syfy. Plotkin previously was an EP with Chinese broadcaster CCTV. He also co-ran independent production company, Class IV Productions, which was housed at Warner Bros. and developed such hit series as CBS’ Without a Trace, FX’ Nip/Tuck, CBS’ Cold Case and The CW’s Smallville. Plotkin also executive produced Fox’s Reunion and The WB’s Related. From 2000-04, Plotkin also has served as VP of drama development at Warner Bros.

National Soccer Hall of Fame member and former U.S. National Team star Eric Wynalda will be the new co-host for Fox Soccer Channel’s live weekly call-in show Fox Football Fone-In. Wynalda will share hosting duties with Nick Webster. The sixth season of the show is scheduled to premiere Aug. 10 from 7-9 p.m.

Former William Morris agent Steven Selikoff was named vice president of series development at Robert Halmi Sr.’s RHI Entertainment.

Reggie Williams joined Viacom-owned cable network BET as SVP of music strategy and operations.

Janet Balis named EVP of media sales and marketing at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.

Former Atlanta Journal-Constitution college football writer and CBS Sports college football analyst Tony Barnhart is joining CBS College Sports as the host of a weekly primetime college football program. The Tony Barnhart Show will air every Tuesday night from 9-10 p.m. during the college football season, starting September 8.

Station Swaps

Raycom Senior VP of Television Marty Edelman, 65, will retire at the end of August. Edelman has been at Raycom for the past decade, during which the group more than doubled its number of stations to its current batch of 41.

Former WCSH Portland General Sales Manager David Abel has been named president and general manager of Hearst’s WMTW in Portland, Maine. He starts July 27 and replaces Ken Bauder, who is retiring.

David Bangura has been named president/general manager at Granite’s WMYD Detroit. His promotion from director of sales to the top spot is effective immediately. Bangura replaces Sarah Norat-Phillips, who is resigning.

Craig Marrs was named general manager of Lockwood Broadcast Group’s NBC affiliate KTEN Sherman, Texas-Ada, Okla. Marrs also will be responsible for oversight of digital station CW Texoma.

Co-anchor Amy Basista and two others were laid off at Media General’s WCMH Columbus, Ohio.

Former KWQC Davenport President/General Manager Jim Graham, 63, passed away. Graham had retired a few years ago after suffering a stroke.

Journalism Jumps

With Twentieth’s The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet off the air, Mike Jerrick is returning to his former gig, Good Day Philadelphia on Fox-owned WTXF. He’ll anchor alongside Sheinelle Jones from 7 to 9 a.m. John Anderson will anchor with Jones from 5 to 7 a.m.  Prior to The Morning Show, Jerrick anchored Dayside on the Fox News Channel. He also was a recurring guest anchor on WNYW’s Good Day New York.

Thalia Assuras will leave CBS News, where she was a correspondent and former anchor of the Saturday Early Show and CBSEvening News, after her contract was not renewed.

ABC News hired Dr. Richard Besser, CDC director during the Swine Flu outbreak, as medical reporter. Besser will step down from the CDC and join ABC in September. Tim Johnson has been hired as chief medical editor.

In other medical news hires, Roni Selig is joining CNN Worldwide as senior executive producer and director of the health and wellness medial unit. Selig will lead CNN’s medical reporting and investigations, and will work with CNN’s chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

NBC’s John Yang is moving to Chicago from Washington, D.C., to be a network correspondent in the Midwest.

Mandy Clark has been hired as a digital journalist based in Kabul, Afghanistan, at CBS News. Clark will provide digital reports and contribute to CBS News broadcasts across the network.

The Chicago news market appears to be in a bit of turmoil. Rob Stafford, former Dateline contributor and occasional weekend anchor at NBC’s WMAQ Chicago, has signed on as Allison Rosati’s co-anchor for the 5, 6 and 10 p.m. news, starting Monday, August 10. Meanwhile, Anna Davalantes joined former anchor Bob Sirott in leaving the station. Over at CBS-owned WBBM Chicago, Don Dupree, former executive producer of  Disney-ABC’s At the Movies with Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper, was hired as assistant news director.

Political Prospects

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski named two bureau chiefs as well as senior positions in several bureaus. William Lake becomes chief of the Media Bureau, while Sharon Gillett will run the Wireline Competition Bureau. Other appointments include Robert Ratcliffe and Kris Monteith as deputy chiefs of the Media Bureau; Suzanne Tetreault as deputy chief of the Enforcement Bureau; Thomas Reed as director of the OCBO; Carolyn Fleming-Williams as senior deputy director of the OCBO; and Mark Lloyd as Associate General Counsel and Chief Diversity Officer.

Comcast hired two Democratic Hill staffers: Rudy Brioche and Joe Trahern. Brioche will be senior director of external affairs and public policy counsel, while Trahern will be senior director of federal government affairs.

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.