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Fates & Fortunes Weekly Round-Up: Nov. 30, 200

Welcome back from a long weekend that went surprisingly quick. The news stayed mercifully low-key, other than this somewhat crazy news about Tiger Woods’ strange slow-mo accident (Breaking news: Tiger won’t appear at his scheduled press conference and he won’t appear at his own tournament — not his finest moment, in my opinion. Now the frenzy will only heighten, keeping this potentially very damaging story in the news longer).

Other than Tiger, the news should pick up this week as we close out 2009. It’s one of the few times in my life I’ve ever said this, but I’m ready to put this tough year behind all of us. On to bigger and better in 2010!

As always, you can follow Fates on Twitter @BCFates or me personally @PaigeA if you are willing to put up with tweets about part one of TOP CHEF FINALE THIS WEDNESDAY (Can you tell I’m excited?). Forward fates to me at or at

In the News

David Sternberg, EVP of Fox National Cable Networks and COO of Fox’s Emerging Networks, is leaving his post, according to reports today (Monday, Nov. 30).

Fox’s Emerging Networks are comprised of Fuel, Fox Soccer Channel and Fox Sports en Espanol, and all report to Rich Battista, the group’s president. Fuel TV GM CJ Olivares will continue to oversee the car-focused network, while Fox will announce management for Fox Soccer Channel and Fox Sports en Español at a later date.

Sternberg leaves after nearly 12 years with Fox. He first joined Fox Cable Networks as director of business development for Fox Sports International in 1998, and quickly assumed greater responsibility, becoming VP/GM of Fox Sports International in 2000. In 2002, he took over Fox Soccer Channel and Fox Sports en Español and added oversight of Fuel TV in 2003. Sternberg was promoted to his current position in 2004.

In Memoriam

Bill Bresnan (pictured left), cable pioneer and founder and chairman of Bresnan Communications, died of cancer on Friday, Nov. 27, in his home in Greenwich, Conn. He was 75. Bresnan was a widower, having been predeceased by his first wife of 43 years, Barbara Boettcher Bresnan, with whom he had six children and 11 grandchildren. Bresnan is survived by his second wife, Ann Lessing Bresnan, and her five children. A memorial service will be held at St. Mary’s Church in Greenwich, Conn on Wednesday Dec. 2 at 11 a.m. The wake is scheduled for Monday and Tuesday between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. at the Leo P. Gallagher & Sons funeral home at 31 Arch St. in Greenwich.  For more information about the arrangements, contact Leo P. Gallagher & Son Funeral Home, 31 Arch Street, Greenwich, Conn, 06830, 203-869-1513; and St. Mary’s Church, 178 Greenwich Avenue, Greenwich, Conn 06830, 203-869-9393. In lieu of flowers, donations are requested to the Ann and Bill Bresnan Foundation, which, among other things, will continue to fund research into the rare form of cancer that he fought so courageously for the last year at: Ann and Bill Bresnan Foundation, Bresnan Communications, Inc., One Manhattanville Road, Purchase, NY 10577-2596, Attention: Shawn Beqaj.

CBS News Producer Bernie Birnbaum passed away on Thanksgiving Day (Thursday, Nov. 26) at the age of 89. Birnbaum joined CBS in 1951, working as an associate producer on The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite, senior producer of On the Road with Charles Kuralt and many other CBS news programs. His daughter, Amy, is a producer in CBS’ New York bureau. He also is survived by another daughter, Deborah Birnbaum-Kocay, their two husbands and four children. Birnbaum’s funeral will be held Tuesday, December 1 at 1 pm at the Larchmont Temple, 75 Larchmont Ave., Larchmont, NY.

Big Kahunas

Carolina Lightcap (pictured right), SVP of programming and creative affairs and CMO of Disney Channels Latin America, has been named president of Disney Channels Worldwide. She succeeds Rich Ross, who was recently elevated to head of Walt Disney Studios. Lightcap will relocate from Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Burbank, Calif. Lightcap joined Disney Channels Latin America in 2000, serving in a number of marketing roles before being elevated to senior VP in 2004 and CMO in 2006. Before Disney, she was VP of programming, sales and marketing for Sky Latin America Partners. She also worked at Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment and Fox Latin American Channel. In addition, Gary Marsh, president of entertainment for Disney Channels Worldwide, will add chief creative officer to his title, reporting to Lightcap.

Jeffrey DeMond was officially named CEO of Bresnan Communications last Wednesday (Nov. 25), just days before Bresnan Founder Bill Bresnan passed away. DeMond had served as Bresnan’s president since 2005.

Corporate Changes

Dan Harrison has been named SVP, strategic development at CBS  Corp. Harrison most recently was SVP of emerging networks at NBC Universal Cable, where he oversaw the NBC Universal Cable Group’s mystery-crime and suspense-horror cable channels, Sleuth and Chiller. He was also responsible for managing Universal HD, NBCU’s high-definition digital network, as well as operations for NBC 2Go, CNBC 2Go and MSNBC 2Go, and studio-based acquisitions for Bravo and Oxygen Media.  Before that he served as SVP, cross-network strategy and emerging networks for NBC Universal, which included planning and execution of Bravo’s long-range direction as well as scheduling. Earlier, Harrison was VP of strategic program planning for Bravo. He also served as SVP, programming and strategic planning at Fox Sports Group.

Donna Mills and Alexis Rouse each were promoted at NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution last week. Mills was named SVP of marketing, communications and affiliate relations, while Rouse was named VP of communications.

John Ankwicz has been promoted to EVP of production at Warner Bros.-owned Telepictures Productions, according to a press release. Ankwicz has served as Telepictures’ SVP, production, for the past three years, helping to launch TMZ, convert The Ellen DeGeneres Show to HD, and bring George Lopez to late night on TBS’ Lopez Tonight. Ankwicz is one of Extra’s founding members, where he began as an associate producer in 1994, and moved on to be production executive and executive in charge of production.

Andy Jacobson has been named VP sales at Gannett Digital. He joins Gannett from Email Data Source, where he was SVP sales. Prior to his work at Email Data Source, Jacobson was SVP sales at MediaWhiz and also served as SVP of sales and business development at ContextWeb.

Programming Prospects

Nina Howie, TBS’ VP of comedy, is leaving the network after 3 1/2 years, reports The Hollywood Reporter. Howie oversaw the network’s original programming under TBS and TNT programming chief Michael Wright. Before her stint at TBS, Howie was vp comedy series at Touchstone TV.
Station Switches

Bill Shaw was named SVP at Cordillera Communications, succeeding Gary Nielsen as president/GM  at Cordillera’s KVOA Tucson. Nielsen will retire at the end of the year. Shaw was most recently VP/GM of Tribune’s WGN America; he left that post in the middle of 2008. Prior to that, he was president/general manager at Fox Television Sales.

Journalism Jumps

Leila Feinstein is the new anchor of Tribune-owned KTLA’s 1pm news.  She will also continue as a health reporter at the station, doing stories for the 1pm, 6pm and 10pm newscasts.  She will co-anchor one-hour 1pm newscast with Frank Buckley.

Anchor Baron James, who co-anchors Fox-owned KDFW’s 5 and 10 p.m. newscasts with Clarice Tinsley, is being let go, reports Ed Bark on Uncle Barky’s Bytes. James’ last day at the station comes on Jan. 17. James previously worked at ABC affiliate WTAE Pittsburgh and at NBC affiliate WSFA Montgomery, Alabama.

Sandra Ali, anchor at WLWT Cincinnati, will not be returning to the station after her maternity leave, the station announced last Wednesday (Nov. 25). Ali came to Cincinnati in August 2004 from a weekend anchor job at Detroit’s Fox affiliate.

Justin Farmer will join Jovita Moore as co-anchor of Gannett-owned WSB Atlanta’s 5 p.m. newscast starting this January, the station reported on its Web site. John Pruitt, 5 p.m. newscast anchor, will continue co-anchoring the 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts with Monica Pearson. Farmer is an Atlanta native who began working at the station in June 2008. Prior to that, Farmer anchored the morning and noon newscasts for WFAA in Dallas. Farmer also worked for local stations in Denver and Oklahoma City. Early in his career, he was with CNN Sports in Atlanta.

Gary Sprinkle, anchor at KITV Honolulu, is retiring from TV at the end of this year, and his wife and co-anchor, Pamela Young, will scale back her schedule to become weekend anchor, reports the Honolulu Star Bulletin. Sprinkle will focus on his company, Sprinkle Communications, which does video production, including for company Web sites Sprinkle has worked in TV news for 32 years, beginning in Tucson, Ariz. KITV has launched a search for a weeknight anchor and announced that 10 p.m. anchor Paula Akana will expand her role at 5 and 6 p.m. during the transition. Regular weekend anchor Jill Kuramoto has been filling in for morning anchor Mahealani Richardson, who is on maternity leave. Weekend newscasts will feature various anchors through the end of the year, Rosenberg said.

Terry Owens is leaving WMAR Baltimore, reports the Baltimore Sun’s David Zurawik. Owens is the station’s second anchor, along with Mary Beth Marsden, to accept a buyout offer from the station. Owens has anchored the station’s 5:30 pm newscast and reported for the 11 p.m. broadcast for the past two years. For the decade prior to that, Owens covered City Hall and Baltimore City government for the station. He’s also hosted 2 The Point, the longest-running local public affairs shows on Baltimore TV, for the past 14 years.

Peter Roghaar  has been named news director at WTSP Tampa-St. Petersburg after nine years as news director at the NBC affiliate in West Palm Beach, WPTV.

Skiing weatherman Herb Stevens’ syndicated ski reports are being picked up by Global Broadcasting’s ABC affiliate WLNE Providence, R.I., and its sister cable channel, Newschannel 5, starting this Thursday (Dec. 3). His forecasts will air on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturday mornings on both outlets.


B&C announced its Station General Managers of 2009 and the winners are: Newly promoted CBS Television Stations President Peter Dunn (Markets 1-25), WBNS Columbus President/General Manager Tom Griesdorn (26-50) and WMBF Myrtle Beach VP/General Manager Ted Fortenberry (51-plus).  Weigel Broadcasting was selected as Multiplatform Broadcaster of the Year, a new award given to the broadcaster doing the best job of connecting with its audience via the multiple media platforms.