Betty Cohen In as Lifetime CEO

New York— In a surprise choice, Cartoon Network founder and former president Betty Cohen has been named president and CEO of Lifetime Entertainment Services, replacing departing chief Carole Black.

Cohen, who left Cartoon Network Worldwide in July 2001, officially starts at Lifetime April 26, the network said last week.

Cohen spent 14 years at Turner Broadcasting System Inc., where she built a reputation as a savvy brand-builder and programmer. She oversaw the creation and launch of the all-animation Cartoon Network.

Before founding Cartoon, Cohen served as senior vice president and general manager of Turner Network Television. She joined Turner from a stint at Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite.

After leaving Cartoon in 2001, Cohen joined parent AOL Time Warner Inc. to work on multi-platform services aimed at teens and young adults. She left that slot in September 2002.

Most recently, Cohen was president of Betty Cohen Media Consulting, where she advised companies on brand-building, cable-channel development and multi-platform programming.

Lifetime is a 50-50 joint venture of The Walt Disney Co. and Hearst Corp.

“Betty has a keen awareness of the importance of television’s relationship with the viewer and remarkable ability to identify, understand and get close to audiences — providing knowledge that she transforms into the development, marketing and communicating of brands,” said Anne Sweeney, co-chairman of The Walt Disney Co. Media Networks unit.

The rumored leading internal candidates to replace Black were marketing general manager Rick Haskins and ad-sales general manager Lynn Picard. Outside names mentioned were SoapNet general manager Deborah Blackwell and A&E Television Networks CEO Abbe Raven.