Haskins Leaving Lifetime

Rick Haskins is closing the chapter of his life at Lifetime.

With the women’s-targeted company since 1999, Haskins will exit his post as executive vice president and general manager at Lifetime Entertainment Services at the end of July.

A marketing executive by trade, Haskins has been heading Lifetime’s programming for the past 15 months, helping to lead a rebound that has seen the network record eight straight months of ratings advances.

Tight with former Lifetime leader Carole Black, Haskins, sources said, had made a run for the top spot, which eventually went to Betty Cohen. The Cartoon Network founder joined Lifetime in April.

Network sources said Cohen offered Haskins the entertainment-president position formerly held by Barbara Fisher, but they could not come to terms. Fisher, the former Universal Studios executive, left Lifetime in May 2004, with Haskins stepping into the programming void

With Haskins on board, Lifetime has successfully charted a course driven by a bounty of original movies on Monday nights, which have also encored well during replays on another evenings.

The network has also added some reality shows, including the late-night How Clean Is Your House?, and it is taking a new turn this July and August with limited series Beach Girls, starring Rob Lowe and Julia Ormond.

But original series -- Lifetime staples while topping Nielsen Media Research ratings charts during 2001 and 2002 -- are down to Strong Medicine, in its sixth season, and Missing.

Sources said Lifetime has more than two-dozen scripted and unscripted shows in various stages of development. Whether any will emerge immediately from the pipeline remains to be seen as the network conducts a search for Haskins’ replacement and Cohen moves to put her own imprimatur on the service.

In a prepared statement, Lifetime said Haskins will be missed personally and professionally: “Since joining the company six years ago, Rick has made enormous contributions to the brand, from overseeing innovative marketing campaigns and his oversight of the programming department -- sparking eight consecutive months of ratings increases -- to the many brand extensions he's helped to launch, most recently Lifetime Radio for Women and Lifetime Home Entertainment.”

Haskins, who said he would ponder his future over the balance of the summer, added in a statement: “For the past six years, I have had the sheer joy of working with an outstanding team of dedicated and talented people. It's been a wonderful and exhilarating ride, and I'm very proud of all I've accomplished.”

Haskins -- author of the book Brand Yourself, which was published by Random House Inc. in 2000 -- joined Lifetime the year before as executive VP, Lifetime Brand, from The Haskins Group, his marketing consultancy, the client roster of which listed Microsoft Corp., Intel Corp. and McDonald’s Corp.

Prior to running his own company, Haskins held a variety of executive positions with The Walt Disney Co. from 1988-96, including three years as director of development at Buena Vista Television, where he was responsible for the creation and development of reality-based programming.

Haskins’ resume also includes a six-year stint at Procter & Gamble Co., where he worked on the Crest and Vidal Sassoon brands.