Heir to the Throne

In the aftermath of CBS Television Distribution CEO Roger King’s death, industry executives say two front-runners seem poised to head the company: Robert Madden and John Nogawski, who currently are co-presidents and chief operating officers.

Spokespersons for CBS TV Distribution said it was too early to speculate on any changes. King, 63, died of a stroke on Saturday, Dec. 8, at his home in Boca Raton, Fla. Funeral services were held last Thursday.

Nogawski and Madden have shared leadership responsibilities and titles since King World and CBS Paramount officially were combined in September 2006.

“My guess is that a lot will change over there,” said one industry source. “All bets are off. This gives [CBS President and CEO] Leslie [Moonves] an opportunity to look at the whole thing and decide what he may or may not want to do. But for now, I would think that things are way too up in the air. It’s like a marriage: Unless you are in the sheets, you don’t really know what’s going on.”


Whoever ends up in charge will have the luxury of overseeing nine out of 10 of syndication’s highest-rated shows, including genre leaders The Oprah Winfrey Show, Entertainment Tonight, Wheel of Fortune, Judge Judy and Everybody Loves Raymond. CBS TV Distribution also produces and distributes Dr. Phil, The Insider and Inside Edition, and distributes Jeopardy!, which, like Wheel, is produced by Sony. The top shows on its roster generate $300 million to $500 million in annual revenues.

Madden was King’s right-hand man for 20 years, allowing King to focus on selling shows and other big-picture projects. In 1987, Madden was a Beverly Hills-based attorney who began representing the King family, handling its business, personal and financial affairs. In 1996, he was named executive VP of King World Productions.

Madden was instrumental in the merger of King World Productions with CBS for $2.5 billion in 2000. When the company was finally combined with Paramount Domestic Television in 2006, Madden began sharing the top responsibilities and titles with Nogawski.

Meanwhile, Nogawski is a 25-year veteran of Paramount and CBS Television Distribution, joining the company in 1983. In March 2002, Nogawski became president of CBS Paramount Domestic Television, heading up distribution, marketing and ad sales for CBS Paramount’s Entertainment Tonight and its spin-off The Insider; the top-two court shows, Judge Judy and Judge Joe Brown; talk show Montel Williams; and all off-network product such as Frasier, NCIS and Medium.

Sources close to CBS said an outsider is unlikely to be chosen. CBS also could decide to leave both executives in their current positions.

Even after King World was subsumed by CBS—and subsequently Paramount—King remained highly competitive, but sometimes treated his old King World shows like favored children. The two corporate cultures did not combine easily. King World was entrepreneurial; CBS Paramount was more buttoned-down and corporate.

The CBS Paramount sales force also spent more time concentrating on CBS’ off-network shows, which is the way studios cover their production deficits. King wasn’t as interested in spending time selling anything but the biggest, most glamorous projects, say sources. Most recently, he had been working hard to launch CBS’ newest show, The Doctors, a spin-off of Dr. Phil, executive produced by Dr. Phil McGraw’s son, Jay. Said one confidante of King’s: “He single-handedly sold The Doctors.”

Paige Albiniak

Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997-September 2002.