E! Loses President Shea
E! Entertainment Television is searching for another
president now that Fran Shea opted not to keep that slot permanently, officials said last
Shea had been serving as acting president of E!
Entertainment Television Networks since December, replacing Lee Masters, who went to
Liberty Digital. But she declined an offer to take the post permanently, and she will
instead work as an exclusive consultant for the network for the next two years.
Shea is loyal to E!, but she said she had personal needs --
mainly her one-year-old daughter -- that are more important now.
"It's about my life priorities," Shea said.
"E! needs someone who can devote more time than I want to. You only have so many
hours in the day."
There are now several top slots open at cable networks that
need to be filled.
A replacement hasn't been found yet for Lou Dobbs, who
left as president of CNNfn in June.
And the ownership of The Health Network -- which was
created through the merger of America's Health Network and Fit TV -- is looking for a
president for that programming service. THN is being managed by one of its owners,
Shea's decision to step down didn't come as a
surprise, since sources said she was a reluctant candidate from the get-go because she
wanted to spend time with her baby. She had insisted on the "acting president"
title after coming back from maternity leave to take that post.
In addition, for the past few months, speculation has been
swirling around the industry that Shea had definitely decided that she wasn't going
to stay on as president. In fact, some people had been approached about the job. But when
asked about the rumors, E! officials had vehemently denied that Shea didn't want to
keep the presidency permanently.
Shea will remain in the slot of acting president until
Comcast Corp. -- which owns a controlling 49.9 percent stake in E! -- finds a replacement.
Comcast is currently conducting a search for a new president -- a hunt that it hopes will
be completed by the end of the year.
During her nine-month tenure, Shea put a new management
team and reporting structure in place, which includes executive vice presidents David
Cassaro and Mark Feldman. Also during her term, three top E! officials left: senior vice
president of affiliate sales Debra Green, senior vice president of marketing Dale Hopkins
and chief financial officer William Keenan.
"Fran has been the driving force behind E!'s
restructuring and positioning for the future and, in fact, we would have liked her to
accept the role of president," Comcast president Brian Roberts said in a prepared
statement. "We will work with Fran in her current role until a successor is
Prior to being named acting president, Shea had been
E!'s senior vice president of programming for nine years.
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By Kent Gibbons