Fates Roundup, Tuesday, March 25, 2014

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

Turner Broadcasting has restructured its ad sales division, the company announced on March 25. Under the reorg, Donna Speciale will lead ad sales as president of the department, which now combines TV and digital ad sales with marketing, while Greg D’Alba, head of sales for CNN and Turner digital, will exit. Speciale, who most recently helmed sales for Turner’s entertainment and kids networks, succeeds David Levy, who now serves as president of Turner Broadcasting.

Angela Betasso has been tapped as senior VP of sales at Tribune Broadcasting, the company announced on March 25. At Tribune, she will oversee top line sales for the company’s owned or operated stations. Betasso will begin her new post on March 31, reporting to Larry Wert, president of broadcast media. She joins Tribune from Gannett, where she was recently named VP of sales. The exec had helmed sales at Belo before its acquisition by Gannett. She had been slated to start at Hearst TV sometime this year but was instead named to Gannett’s executive team.

Mitch Cardwell has been upped to VP of digital content and design at CBS Marketing, the company announced on March 25. Cardwell, who joined CBS in 2004, has most recently served as director of digital content and design for the department. In his new role, he will continue to develop all marketing materials for the company’s digital platforms.

Steve McMurray has been promoted to general manager of Heartland Media. McMurray had served as news director and station manager for WKTV since 2012. ABC affiliate WKTV was acquired by Heartland in October for $16 million.

Ben Sherwood (pictured above) will succeed Anne Sweeney as co-chairman of Disney Media Networks and president of Disney/ABC Television Group when she steps down next year, the Walt Disney Company announced on March 24. Sherwood, who will assume his new duties in full on Feb. 1, 2015, will in the interim serve as co-president of Disney/ABC Television Group as well as continue to helm ABC News. Sweeney announced on March 11 that she would leave her post to pursue television directing.

Javier I. Ortiz has been tapped as VP of human resources for Telemundo Station Group, it was announced on March 24. Ortiz, who most recently served as director of human resources for Telemundo Networks, will oversee all HR for the company’s 17 owned stations. He will report to Manuel Martinez, president of Telemundo Station Group.

Liberty Global’s Bill Warga has been appointed to the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers’ Board of Directors, the SCTE announced on March 24. Warga serves as Liberty Global’s VP of technology and is a member of the Liberty’s’ Chief Architecture Group. The industry veteran will replace Time Warner Cable’s Mike LaJoie whose term expires this year. Warga will take his seat in September.

Actor James Rebhorn died on March 21 after a long battle with skin cancer. He was 65. The veteran actor appeared in many movies and television series, including films Scent of a Woman and Independence Day and Showtime’s Homeland, where he played the father of Claire Danes’ character Carrie Mathison.

Tracey Lentz has been named VP of unscripted programming at AMC, it was announced on March 21. She will be tasked with the development of the network’s unscripted series, reporting to Eliot Goldberg, senior VP of unscripted programming. Lentz most recently served as VP of development at 3Ball Productions/Eyeworks USA.

Katie Forte has been tapped as senior producer of strategic events and partnerships at CBS Radio. In her new role, she will help develop and manage the company’s programs as well as work as a liaison with venues and partners. Forte most recently worked at the Madison Square Garden Company as the director of concerts marketing, digital and social media.

60 Minutes producer Adrian “Clem” Taylor died March 21. He was 60. Taylor succumbed to pancreatic cancer, which he had been fighting since May 2013. The veteran producer, who had spent nearly 20 years with CBS News in various roles, won a Peabody Award and an Emmy for his 60 Minutes story on the Kimbanguist Symphony Orchestra in the congo. Prior to CBS News, he produced for ABC News’ Primetime Live and 20/20.

Discovery Communications founder John Hendricks will retire from his posts as director and chairman of the board of directors. Hendricks will remain on in those roles through May 16, the date of the annual shareholders meeting. The executive started the Discovery Channel in 1985 but took a step back from the company in 2004 when he exited his post as CEO.

Elaine Bauer Brooks has been appointed executive VP of development at CBS Television Distribution, it was announced on March 20. Brooks, who most recently worked as an executive producer at The Style Network, will oversee the development of CTD’s new programming.

Mark Dominik, formerly an executive with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, has been tapped as an NFL Front Office Insider for ESPN, it was announced on March 20. Dominik, who served as the Bucs general manager from 2009-13, will work primarily with the net’s show NFL Insiders but will also contribute to NFL Live, SportsCenter, ESPN Radio and ESPN Insider on ESPN.com.

Elverage Allen has been appointed executive VP in charge of ad sales at Bounce TV, the African-American broadcast net announced on March 20. Allen, who had previously headed sales for the network’s central region, will report to COO Jonathan Katz. He succeeds Dennis Ray in the role. Bounce TV also made a number of additional staff announcements. The appointments include: Sean Woodle as VP of ad sales, West Coast; Erick Asenjo as VP of ad sales; Winnie Bernier as account executive; and Gary Saginario as director of ad sales. The network recently opened up a West Coast office, the launch of which will be overseen by Woodle.

Shine America announced on March 20 the MasterChef Caribbean cruise. The week-long event features programming with MasterChef judge Graham Elliot, season 3 winner Christine Ha, season 4 winner Luca Manfe, and MasterChef Junior season 1 winner Alexander Weiss. The chefs will give demonstrations and hold meet-and-greets with fans. The cruise, which is produced by Life Journeys Inc., sets sail on Nov. 8 aboard Holland America’s ship the MS Westerdam.   

AMC Networks has promoted legal department execs Cliff Bail and Aileen Brophy. Bail has been tapped as senior VP and deputy general counsel, while Brophy has been named senior VP of legal and business affairs. Bail, who was senior VP of corporate legal, will oversee litigation and international business as well as continue to provide legal counsel. Brophy, who had worked as VP of legal and business affairs, will manage the legal elements relating to national distribution for the company. The duo will continue to report to Jamie Gallagher, AMC Networks’ executive VP and general counsel.

Jack Wakshlag will step down as Turner Broadcasting’s chief research officer at the end of March, he announced on March 19. Wakshlag has worked at the company for 12 years, during which time he shepherded ideas such as Digital Ad Load Testing, Extended Homes, Extended Screen, NCAA Cross Platform, CNN All SCreen and Advanced Media Targeting.

Anthony Vinciquerra has been appointed to Machinima’s Board of Directors, it  was announced on March 19. Vinciquerra currently serves as a senior advisor for Texas Pacific Group. Prior, he was the chairman and CEO of Fox Networks Group.

Pete Vlastelica has been elevated to executive VP of digital at Fox Sports, the network announced on March 19. Vlastelica, who previously held the title of senior VP of digital, will continue to report to Eric Shanks, president and COO of Fox Sports. The exec joined the network in 2010 after Fox Sports bought the company Vlastelica cofounded named Yardbarker.

A&E Network has upped on March 19 Mark Apter to senior VP of program planning and acquisitions. Apter, who had served as VP of scheduling and acquisitions for A&E and BIO Channel, will oversee the A&E’s scheduling across the network and its digital platforms. He reports to David McKillop, executive VP and general manager.

The National Cable and Telecommunications Association has named the speakers for the Cable Show. The conference is set to take place in Los Angeles from April 29 to May 1. The April 29 lineup includes: Nancy Dubuc, president and CEO of A+E Networks; Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti; Jerry Kent, chairman and CEO of Suddenlink; Rob Marcus, chairman and CEO of Time Warner Cable; John Martin, CEO of Turner Broadcasting; NCTA president Michael Powell; and John Skipper, ESPN president and Disney Media Networks co-chairman. The April 30 agenda features  Michelle Ashford, creator, writer, and executive producer of Showtime's Masters of Sex; Richard LaGravenese, cocreator, writer and executive producer, WE tv’s The Divide; Brian Roberts, Comcast chairman and CEO; Kurt Sutter, creator, writer, producer and actor, FX's Sons of Anarchy; FCC chair Tom Wheeler; and David Zaslav, president and CEO, Discovery Communications. On Thursday, the roster consists of Cox president Pat Esser; Rob Lloyd, president, development and sales, for Cisco; Josh Sapan, president and CEO of AMC Networks; and Matt Weiner, creator, writer, director and executive producer of AMC's Mad Men.

Comcast has elevated Rebecca Arbogast and Karen Dougherty Buchholz, the company announced on March 19. Arbogast will now serve as senior VP of global public policy, while Buchholz will work as senior VP of administration.

Fox Networks bolstered its distribution team with the promotion of two executives, the company announced on March 19. Jessica Fang has been named senior VP of distribution, national accounts and David Espinosa has been appointed senior VP of distribution, strategic analysis. Both Fang and Espinosa most recently were VPs of national accounts and strategic analysis, respectively.

Chicago-based media agency Spark announced four VP appointments. The promotions include: Amy Dickerson as VP, digital director; Ansarie Easo, VP, strategy director; Laura Kleyweg, VP, strategy director; and Adam Weiler, VP, research director. Spark is part of Starcom MediaVest Group.

Spyros Lazaris has been appointed VP of sales and marketing at Audio Precision, the audio test company announced on March 19. Lazaris joins the company from Tektronix, where he served as Americas director of marketing and sales

Jessika Walsten

Jessika is an analyst for TVREV and Fabric Media. She previously served in various roles at Broadcasting + Cable, Multichannel News and NextTV, working with the brands since 2013. A graduate of USC Annenberg, Jessika has edited and reported on a variety of subjects in the media and entertainment space, including profiles on industry leaders and breaking news.