Fates & Fortunes Weekly Round-Up: Sept. 21, 2009

Last night was TV’s ultimate celebration of Fates and Fortunes: the Primetime Emmy Awards.

Thumbs up: I was happy to see the show post some decent ratings, even in the face of NFL football on NBC, and to hear glowing reviews for the charming, gracious and oh-so-talented Neil Patrick Harris.

Thumbs down: I was disappointed that Mad Men’s Jon Hamm again lost to Bryan Cranston for Best Actor in a Drama. I know Cranston is amazing in AMC’s Breaking Bad, but I think he has an advantage because he’s playing against the goofy-father type established for him by Fox’s Malcolm in the Middle. Hamm was largely unknown before morphing into Don Draper so as far as anyone knows, he’s playing himself. I’ve interviewed Hamm though and he’s a far more open and relaxed person than the aloof Draper. What’s more, Mad Men – which boasts an audience of two million max – is now a two-time Emmy winner for Best Drama, and Hamm is its star and central figure. Shouldn’t he be awarded accordingly?

I wholeheartedly agree with Emmy that Mad Men and 30 Rock are the best drama and comedy on TV, respectively, so I was fine with both of those repeat wins. Those shows were the two most nominated shows of the year, so as Tina Fey said upon winning Outstanding Comedy for the third year in a row: “That was a nail-biter.”

Your thoughts on Emmy’s winners and losers?

Ok, on to this week’s round-up of media moves. As always, you can follow us on Twitter @BCFates (or me personally @PaigeA). You can also forward your fate to me at BCFates@gmail.com or at palbiniak@gmail.com so I can include it here.

Big Kahunas

Last week was a big week for big kahunas, with both NAB and TVB naming their new chiefs. Entrepreneur and former Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) will take the helm of the National Association of Broadcasters come November.  MPG COO Steve Lanzano will become president of TVB in January 2010.

Journalism Jumps

Polly Kreisman is moving to CBS News’ Early Show to be a producer at a new consumer/investigative unit. She’s a vet of NYC local TV.

Programming Prospects

Los Angeles-based Hasbro Studios, in a building phase, named a bevy of new executives: Bob Boden — currently SVP of programming and production at the Fox Reality Channel and former SVP of programming for the Game Show Network — will be Head of Reality and Game Show Development and Production. Michael J. Vogel – director of animated programming at Sony Pictures Television –will serve as head of boys’ animation. Brian Charles Lenard – director of scripted development at RDF Media Group, Pangea Management Group and RDF USA — will take on the role of head of story development. Mary Beth Bambridge – head of strategic planning for William Morris Endeavour Entertainment — will be the company’s head of Finance; and Kevin Healy — head of business and legal affairs at Hasbro Entertainment and Licensing — will serve as Hasbro Studios’ head of legal and business affairs. Stephen J. Davis took the new studio’s reins in early August. The joint venture between Hasbro and Discovery Communications is expected to debut next fall.

Danny Tepper joins Scripps-owned DIY Netork as director of programming, reporting to Andy Singer, DIY’s head of programming. Tepper comes to DIY after working in development for Discovery Studios.

Station Switches

Bill Lord, VP News at Albritton-owned ABC affiliate WJLA, was promoted to station manager. His management responsibilities include “the complex, day-to-day operations of both the ABC affiliate and the 24-hour cable news operation in the Washington region,” said Allbritton in a statement. Lord also will handle “new responsibilities for coordination of sales and marketing as well as news, promotions and technical operation of the two stations.”

Gavin Maliska, news director at Fox-owned WOFL Tampa Bay, has left the station, reports the Orlando Sentinel’s Hal Boedeker. Assistant news director Jeff Zellerwill be in charge in the interim. Maliska joined the station in December, replacing Bob Clinkingbeard, which is one of the best last names I’ve ever heard. Boedeker reports that WOFL typically runs fourth in news in the market.

Maryland Public Television last Monday laid off 18 employees — about 10 percent of its work force, blogs the Baltimore Sun’s David Zurawik. Mike Golden and Eric Eggleton, managing director of corporate communications and senior vice president for content, each lost their jobs, Zurawik says.

Corporate Changes

Vin Zachariah has been named regional vice president of operations for Time Warner Cable’s Northeast Ohio and Western Pennsylvania divisions.

Washington Wire

The White House rounded out the leadership of the President’s Committee on the Arts & Humanities, naming commercial theater producer Margo Lion (Harispray, Angels In America) and AFI founder and TV/film producer, playright George Stevens Jr. as co-chairs. Mary Schmidt Campbell, dean of the New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, was named vice chair. PCAH, which was created during the administration of President Ronald Reagan, himself a former film and TV figure, is charged with advocating for the value of the arts and humanities.  PCAH’s executive director, named back in July, is Rachel Goslins, independent TV and film producer, attorney and wife of FCC chairman Julius Genachowski.

Former FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has joined the board of directors of Xtera Communications. Martin exited the FCC in January, joining the Aspen Institute, where former FCC Chairman go to take a little break before going out to finally make some real money, as a senior fellow.

Technology Trades

Former Fox Sports and Sportvision executive Jerry Gepner has been named divisional CEO of Vitec Services Division, the arm of U.K.-based technology conglomerate Vitec Group, which provides rental services of cameras and wireless communications gear for major live productions and includes Burbank, Calif.-based Bexel. Gepner joined Vitec Group as CTO in 2005 and most recently held the position of interim president for Bexel. A five-time Emmy winner, he has over 20 years of experience in broadcast engineering and production with a particular expertise in mobile production. Prior to joining Vitec Group, Gepner served as president of National Mobile Television (NMT). He has held the position of EVP for Fox Sports and was co-founder and COO of Sportvision, the technology company that created the ‘virtual first down line’ for football telecasts and other graphic enhancements for live sports coverage.


Frank Radice, president of the New York-based National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, resigned Monday afternoon (Sept. 21.) on the eve of the annual NATAS News and Documentary Emmys. “It was due to significant differences between myself and management,” he said, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Radice had held the position for less than a year, signing up on Dec. 15 as chief marketing officer and ascending to president on Jan. 1. Radice had made the Daytime Emmys a priority, getting the low-rated show a place on The CW after ABC, CBS and NBC passed.  The show aired on Aug. 30, and drew 2.68 million viewers, the lowest-ever for the award telecast.

Jonathan Block-Verk’s role at TV marketing and promotion organization, PromaxBDA, has been expanded to include CEO as well as president in Block-Verk’s title.

Joe Skeel has been named permanent executive director of the Society of Professional Journalists. Skeel succeeds Terry Harper, who died June 2 after a two-year battle with brain cancer.


Golden GirlBetty White, who has boasted one of the longest and most successful careers in the history of TV, will receive the Screen Actors Guild’s Lifetime Achievement Award Jan. 23 at the SAG Awards ceremony, which will be carried live on TNT and TBS.


Actor Patrick Swayze, 57, died of pancreatic cancer 20 months after his diagnosis.

Henry Gibson, one of Laugh-In’s original cast members and a recent regular on ABC’s Boston Legal, died Monday, Sept. 14, in Malibu after a brief battle with cancer. He was 73.

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.