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Columbia TriStar Television picks TV vet

Former UPN and Twentieth Television executive Len Grossi was tapped as the new president of Columbia TriStar Television last week, amid a series of structure changes at the Sony-owned studio.

Grossi, who served as senior executive vice president and COO at UPN from 1994 to 1998, will oversee Columbia TriStar's network television division, family entertainment division and cable network Game Show Network. He'll report to Sony Pictures Entertainment COO and Co-president Mel Harris and is also charged with managing Columbia TriStar's distribution deals with Brad Grey Entertainment and Artists Television Group, as well as overseeing the studio's investments in Telemundo.

A series of new executive changes at the studio means that the Columbia TriStar Television Group banner will be retired and a management layer at the studio will be erased. The three divisions that formerly reported to Columbia TriStar Television Group executives-Columbia TriStar Television, Columbia TriStar Television Distribution and Columbia TriStar International Television-will now report to Harris only.

Grossi, who originally worked with Harris at Paramount Pictures in the late '70s, says he is ready for the techno future: "The business is going through a lot of different changes, and I think those who create and develop programming are going to have a big say in the future. It's going to be up to us to provide content according to the future. It's a great challenge, but something I'm looking forward to being a part of."

On Columbia TriStar's lack of a broadcast network outlet, like those of many big Hollywood studios, Grossi says, "I think the industry has gone through growing pains lately, in terms of content creation, where there has been so much demand for programming and not enough people to provide it. It's difficult to get really good quality shows to fill all of the time periods at the broadcast and cable networks. Synergy can sometimes be your worst nightmare, in addition to being your best friend. If it fails, it fails for every aspect of your business."