ATAS head ousted

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences is turning its attention to finding a new president after Jim Chabin's contract was not renewed, the latest chapter in a rocky year for the non-profit organization.

Academy executives were not commenting, but insiders say 18-year veteran John Leverance is the front-runner to replace Chabin. Leverance is currently vice president of awards and heads the prime time and Los Angeles-area Emmys.

Given the two postponements of the Primetime Emmy Awards and the resulting $1.6 million loss in TV revenues, the vote by the Academy's executive committee last week to oust Chabin seemed inevitable. For more than two years now, some insiders say, the Academy has been like a "dysfunctional family," filled with in-fighting and politics.

Chabin and new Academy Chairman Bryce Zabel had what is described as a contentious relationship, and insiders say a number of executive committee members were upset with the Emmy-show delays. It was also widely known that Chabin didn't see eye-to-eye with the Academy's former chairman, Meryl Marshall Daniels.

She organized a special internal review board last year to look into possible improprieties on Chabin's part. The ad hoc committee gave him a once-over and followed with an unanimous vote to renew his contract for 2001. Chabin, who formerly ran marketing/promotion trade group PROMAX/BDA, did not return calls for comment.

Last Wednesday, 15 members of the executive committee voted not to renew Chabin's contract, but they did renew four other paid employees.

Chabin's replacement and Zabel are expected to negotiate this spring with the Big Four broadcast nets for a new deal for the prime time rights to the Emmys. CBS has paid about $3 million per telecast.