Jim Head, the engineer of TBS Superstation's successful expansion into original programming, and Kevin O'Malley, a top executive at Turner Sports, have both left their positions. Neither will be replaced.
Head, TBS' senior vice president of programming, couldn't be reached for comment last week, but according to published reports, he is looking for a job that will keep him in Los Angeles full-time. In his former post, he had to shuttle back and forth from the West Coast to the superstation's headquarters in Atlanta.
TBS won't be replacing Head, but rather plans to reorganize its programming department, according to general manager Dennis Quinn. Despite Head's departure, TBS will stay the course in terms of original programming, continuing to use it to build the superstation's brand as a haven for the regular guy, Quinn said.
"Our vision is that original programming will stay a part of the network," he added. "It's great for branding and ratings."
TBS' programming department will be divided into two parts, series and movies, with each group handling both acquisitions and originals under their respective areas, Quinn said. Executives in both those groups will report to Bill Cox, TBS' vice president of programming.
Head, a lawyer, rose from a job as senior counsel in Turner Broadcasting System Inc.'s legal department to move to its program acquisition unit, and then finally to head of programming.
Head was the mastermind behind TBS' original-programming strategy, particularly its first foray into original movies in 1999. TBS' made-for-TV movie First Daughter
broke records by posting a 6.9 rating, making it then the highest-rated original movie on basic cable for the year.
This year, Quinn said TBS will air three new made-for-TV movies, and from April through November it will be in production on four of them. TBS is looking to eventually ramp up to a dozen original movies a year.
The original series that Head brought to TBS, Ripley's Believe It or Not, also has proven to be a ratings monster. In January, for example, Ripley's
tied for No. 1 among entertainment series with Lifetime Television's The Division. Both shows averaged a 2.8 for the month, according to Nielsen Media Research.
Later this year, TBS will air a reality-based special called War Games,
and a two-hour movie entitled Invincible,
that may evolve into series, Quinn said.
Meanwhile, Turner Sports senior vice president of programming O'Malley has left his position to pursue other interests, according to the company.
A 12-year Turner Sports veteran, O'Malley oversaw Turner's various sports programming entities, including its multi-year, multi-million dollar National Basketball Association deal and its most recent Wimbledon Tennis and Women's pro soccer league deals. Turner Sports also holds agreements with the PGA Championship, NASCAR, the Atlanta Braves and The Goodwill Games.
A Turner Sports spokesman said O'Malley was not a casualty of recent AOL Time Warner layoffs but rather decided he wanted to explore other media opportunities. He added that O'Malley's position will not be filled, but instead will be reassigned as part of a division reorganization.
Turner Sports President Mark Lazarus heads the division, which boasts more than 200 employees.
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