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Lazarus: Search Under Way for New Cartoon Chief

Cartoon Network has a search, but no set timeline, under way for finding a replacement for network chief Jim Samples, who resigned last week after a marketing blunder.

That was the word from Turner Entertainment Group President Mark Lazarus, speaking after the network's annual upfront presentation. Samples, a 13-year Turner veteran, sent shockwaves through the industry last Friday when he announced his resignation. The top executive on the network totem pole apparently took the fall for a marketing mistake engineered by his subordinates and agency creatives outside the network.

Turner and Samples felt he was ultimately responsible for the snafu, which paralyzed much of Boston in a scare over network-planted light boxes, Lazarus said.

"We're a creative company and we hold our management responsible for what goes on within the company," Lazarus said. "Jim felt it was the right thing to do to step down, and he did a brave, courageous and responsible thing."

In Samples' stead at today's presentation to advertisers in New York, Lazarus, in from Atlanta, made brief opening remarks. Visibly nervous in front of a crowd that included Turner Broadcasting Chairman/CEO Phil Kent and Time Warner President/COO Jeff Bewkes, he did not directly address Samples' absence.

"The network changes quickly, very quickly," he said. "In fact, until just is unexpected that I am here today."

The marketing stunt that prompted Samples' departure was designed to promote Cartoon Network's late-night block Adult Swim. It resulted in Turner and its outside marketing firm being fined $2 million.