Fates Roundup Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014

Below is a compilation of the latest executive moves in the industry.

Jeffrey Kaufman (pictured left) has been named senior VP of digital for USA, the network announced on Jan. 28. Kaufman, who most recently worked at Alloy Entertainment as senior VP of digital video, will oversee product development, content and monetizations strategies for all of USA’s digital properties, and will report to Alexandra Shapiro, executive VP of brand marketing and digital.

CBS’ Face the Nation anchor Bob Schieffer will host the Golden Mike Award gala, honoring BMI President Del Bryant. The event, which will take place at the Plaza Hotel in New York on Feb. 24, is put on by the Broadcasters Foundation of America, which helps TV and radio professionals in need. Also on tap to appear at the annual fundraiser are Kris Kistofferson, who will perform, and Food Network and Cooking Channel program host Sandra Lee, who will present.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart made a number of staff moves on Jan. 28. The appointments include the promotion of Steve Bodow, Jen Flanz and Hadam Lowitt to executive producers. In addition, Stewart named Tim Greenberg and Hillary Kun as co-executive producers, Justin Melkmann as supervising producer, and Elliott Kalan as head writer. Stewart serves as the show’s executive producer, writer and host.

Tom Lofthouse has been upped to senior VP of programming for Discovery Digital Networks, the company announced on Jan. 28. Lofthouse, who previously served as VP of programming and production, will oversee program development and affiliate relations across all of Discovery Digital Networks’ properties. He will also mana the company’s San Francisco-based networks, which include Revision3, TestTube and Animalist.

Rich Sirop has been tapped as executive producer for NBCUniversal’s upcoming The Meredith Vieira Show, it was announced on Jan. 28. Sirop previously worked with Vieira as showrunner of Disney/ABC’s Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. He also executive produced the pilot for The Meredith Vieira Show, which will bow in national syndication this fall. The show has already been sold in more than 90% of the U.S.

Lindsey Vonn will join NBC Sports for its coverage of the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The gold medal skier, who pulled out of the Sochi games due to an injured knee, will report from the U.S. for Today, looking at the events and athletes from an Olympian’s point of view. She will also report for Today in the days leading up to the Opening Ceremony. Vonn announced her withdrawal from the games in early January on Today.

Christopher Brooks has been tapped as senior VP of network distribution at The CW, it was announced on Jan. 27. Brooks, who formerly served as senior VP of West Coast distribution for CBS Domestic Television, will oversee all of the CW’s distribution, affiliate relations and affiliate marketing activities.

Producer Kevin Lee to partner with The Tinopolis Group on new television production company Tollbooth Group. Tinopolis, which owns a stake in Tollbooth, will distribute the company’s series internationally. Tollbooth Group will be based in Burbank, Calif. and will develop and produce unscripted programming. Lee has ran multiple shows, including Fox’s The Simple Life and Bravo’s The Real Housewives of Orange County.

Mike Pflantz has been upped to senior VP of corporate finance and accounting at Suddenlink, the company announced on Jan. 27. Pflantz, who joined the company in 2003, most recently served as VP of corporate finance.

The Motion Picture Association of America has named Hill vets Patrick Kilcur and Ben Staub to its government affairs team, the MPAA announced on Jan. 27. Kilcur, who previously worked in Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office, will serve as VP of government and regulatory affairs at MPAA. Staub, who worked in the House Judiciary Committee, will work for the organization as director of government and regulatory affairs. Kilcur and Staub will report to Neil Fried.

Richard Korson has inked a development deal for truTV, the network announced on Jan. 27. Korson, who headed Jon Stewart’s Busboy Productions from 2005-2011, will work on young-adult targeted comedy programming for the net, which will include sports programming companions for truTV’s Division I NCAA basketball tournament coverage.

Collins Avenue made a number of executive moves on Jan. 27. The production company has named Melanie Moreau, a CMT development exec, as senior VP of development and showrunner Sandi Johnson as VP of current programming. Three employees were also promoted within the company. The promotions include: Michael Hammond from VP to senior VP of production, Lindsay Schwartz from director to VP of development and director of business affairs, and Kamico Drakes from manager to director of development.

Lion Television has elevated Ruth Johnston to COO, the company announced on Jan. 27. Johnston, who previously served as executive in charge of production, will now oversee all of Lion’s  financial, operational and legal matters as well as the company’s production management department.

Larry Olevitch has been tapped as president and general manager of WTVJ Miami, effective immediately. Olevitch, who previously served as VP of sales at the NBCUniversal-owned station, succeeds Manuel Martinez, who recently moved to Telemundo Station Group as president.

Half Yard Productions announced on Jan. 27 that it has promoted two employees, effective immediately. Matt Cohn will now serve as director of talent and casting. Cohn previously served as a freelance casting and development producer for Half Yard. Matt Ayres will be the company’s director of development. Ayres, who previously worked as the department’s manager, will scout for new shows and oversee the company’s current projects.

Lesley Jacobi has been upped to development creative director at CMJ Productions II Inc., it was announced on Jan. 27. Jacobi, who recently served as the Montreal-based company’s development creative, will manage creation, research and writing for potential new series as well as serve as a liaison with Canadian broadcasters.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler will speak at the American Cable Association’s summit in Washington, ACA announced on Jan. 27. Wheeler will participate in a Q&A with ACA president Matt Polka on April 2. The event takes place April 1-3 at the Grand Hyatt.

Broadcasting exec Russ Withers died on Jan. 24. According to the National Association of Broadcasters, he passed away at his daughter’s home in Mt. Vernon, Ill. Withers was a TV and radio station owner and former NAB Radio Board Chairman.

Viacom created a unit that will consolidate all domestic program acquisitions across the company’s networks, which include BET, MTV, Comedy Central, VH1 and Spike TV. The Program Acquisitions Group will be led by David Bernath, Comedy Central’s executive VP of programming and multiplatform strategy, and Barbara Zaneri, who will assume the title of executive VP of program acquisitions.

Debra OConnell has been elevated to president of ABC National Television Sales. OConnell, who most recently served as senior VP of sales at the company, succeeds John Watkins, who is retiring at the end of the month. OConnell will oversee sales for ABC’s eight owned stations as well as the stations’ digital platforms.

Ibra Morales has been tapped as president of MundoFox, a joint venture between Fox International Channels and RCN Television Group. Morales, who previously was VP of national marketing at Katz Television Group, will report to the MundoFox. He succeeds Emiliano Saccone.

Colin Jost will replace Seth Meyers on Saturday Night Live’s “Weekend Update.” Jost, who is a head writer for SNL, will join Cecily Strong on the segment starting March 1. Meyers is leaving SNL to host Late Night. His last day in the coanchor chair will be Feb. 1.

Bill O’Reilly will interview President Barack Obama during Fox’s Super Bowl pregame coverage on Feb. 2, it was announced on Jan. 23. O’Reilly, a Fox News host, has previously interviewed Obama twice. An interview with the current President has been a traditional part of the Super Bowl pregame coverage.

Showtime’s David Nevins, Netflix’s Ted Sarandos and NBCUniversal’s Jeff Wachtel will serve as panelists for the Hollywood Radio and Television Society’s Programmers Summit, the organization announced on Jan. 23. The event will take place on Feb. 6 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

Bruce Casino has been named executive VP of NBCUniversal Television & New Media Distribution for U.S. and Canada, announced division president Frances Manfredi on Jan. 23. Casino, who joined Universal in 2004 prior to the company’s merger with NBC, most recently served as the unit’s senior VP. In his new role, he will continue to oversee linear film licensing as well as secure deals for NBCU television content.

Shine International has inked a first-look development and distribution deal with 44 Blue Productions, it was announced on Jan. 23. Under the agreement, Shine International, the worldwide distribution unit of Shine Group, will represent 44 Blue’s finished tape and format rights for its new television output. 44 Blue Productions’ roster of shows includes A+E’s Wahlburgers, MSNBC’s Lockup franchise and Animal Planet’s Pit Bulls & Parolees.

Daniel Laikind has been tapped as CEO of Original Media, it was announced on Jan. 23. Laikind, who cofounded Stick Figure Productions, takes over the reigns at the unscripted shingle from Charlie Corwin, who moved to Original Media’s parent company Endemol North America last year. Corwin now serves as co-CEO and co-chairman at Endemol North America.

Larry Irving will return to the Internet Innovation Alliance, the organization announced on Jan. 23. Irving is a former founding co-chairman of the IIA. He left in 2009 for Hewlett Packard, where he served as VP of global government affairs. He is also the former head of the National Telecommunications & Information Administration during the Clinton Administration.

Debbie Turner has been appointed executive VP of television at Journal Broadcast Group, it was announced on Jan. 23. Turner, who previously was executive VP and general manager of WTVF Nashville, will report to Journal Communications President and CEO Andre Fernandez. The company also tapped Steve Wexler as VP of radio. Wexler, who was executive VP and general manager of Journal Broadcast Group’s Milwaukee radio and television operations, will also report to Fernandez. Under the reorganization, Jim Prater will continue to oversee KTNV Las Vegas but step down from his role at Journal Broadcast Group’s Western region.

Lisa Polster has been upped to news director at WKBW Buffalo. Polster, who most recently served as assistant news director at the Granite-owned station, will start on Feb. 3. She fills the position vacated by Polly Van Doren, who was appointed news director of WKEF-WRGT Dayton.

Maria Bartiromo joins Fox Business Networks as global markets editor, it was confirmed on Jan. 22. Bartiromo, who left CNBC in November after 20 years with the news net, will anchor a daily market program for FBN as well as contribute to Fox News. Shortly after her departure from CNBC, it was reported that she would head to FBN.

Patrice Andrews has been upped to COO of ITV Studios America’s East Coast arm, the company announced on Jan. 22. Andrews will oversee all of the company’s East Coast operations. She most recently served as VP of development, production and operations for New York.

Women in Cable Telecommunications announced on Jan. 22 that it will be accepting applications to the Betsy Magness Leadership Institute from Jan. 23 to Feb. 28. The program is open to senior-level women in the industry. For more information on how to apply to BMLI’s 30th and 31st classes visit wict.org.

United Talent Agency acquired N.S. Beinstock, it was announced on Jan. 22. The transaction will put some of TV news’ most notable names under the UTA banner. N.S. Bienstock, the largest TV news talent agency, will retain its name founders and copresidents Richard Leibner and Carole Cooper staying on to manage day-to-day operations. Leibner and Cooper will also serve as advisors to UTA’s Board of Directors. N.S. Bienstock’s clients include Bill O’Reilly, Anderson Cooper, Robin Roberts, Megyn Kelly, Bob Scheiffer and Norah O’Donnell.

Entertainment and sports attorney Ed Hookstratten died on Jan. 22. He was 83. The longtime lawyer died of natural causes. His clients over his more than 50 year career included Elvis Presley, Johnny Carson, Tom Brokaw and Bryant Gumbel. Hookstratten also was general counsel for the Los Angeles Rams.

Former WCVB Boston anchor Chet Curtis died on Jan. 22. He was 74. Curtis had been battling pancreatic cancer. He and his wife Natalie Jacobson anchored together at New England Cable News for 18 years before splitting professionally in 2000. “Chet and Nat” personally split in 1999.

Jessika Walsten

Jessika is content engagement director of Broadcasting + Cable, Multichannel News and NextTV. She has been with the brands in various roles since 2013. In her current role, she works primarily behind the screen, keeping an eye on the website and fixing any site bugs. A graduate of USC Annenberg, Jessika has edited and reported on a variety of subjects for NextTV, including profiles on industry leaders and breaking news.