Turner Revamp Ups Lazarus, Levy

The revolving door at AOL Time Warner Inc. continued to spin out executives last week, as veteran Brad Siegel resigned amid a new organizational restructuring at Turner Broadcasting System Inc.

Also departing is Turner executive vice president Brad Turrell, who leaves two weeks after his longtime colleague and former Turner president Jamie Kellner left the company, returning to run The WB television network.

In his first major move as Turner's recently named chairman and CEO, Philip Kent has split the company into three integrated operating units — entertainment, news and cartoon divisions — with direct oversight for their respective programming, marketing, advertising sales and other business functions.

Turner Sports president and Turner Entertainment sales and marketing president Mark Lazarus will assume the position of president of the Turner Entertainment Group, formerly held by Siegel. That group includes cable networks TBS

Superstation, Turner Network Television, Turner Classic Movies, Turner South and the Turner Sports unit, as well as the recently added Turner Entertainment Sales and Marketing.

Walton rises

Among the other changes, CNN News Group president Jim Walton, who has oversight of Cable News Network, Headline News, the CNN News Source syndicated news service, CNN International and its regional international channels, is also now charged with heading a new CNN global advertising sales group.

Kellner tapped Walton to lead CNN in January, after CNN News Group chairman and CEO Walter Isaacson said he would resign after 18 months on the job to become CEO of the Aspen Group, a think tank.

TBS International co-president David R. Levy is now president of entertainment sales and marketing, as well as Turner Sports, reporting to Lazarus.

Andy Bird, the other former co-president of TBS International, now has sole oversight of the unit, reporting to Kent.

Kent said he'll soon name a head of the newly created cartoon unit, which will include the combined oversight of network and sales operations for Cartoon Network, as well as sales efforts for the Kids WB! entity.

The move leaves the future of veteran Turner executive Jim Samples, who currently heads up the group, up in the air. Kent said that he's "keeping all of his options open" with respect to the position.

Kent said the new structure is similar to a model he implemented when he ran TBS International in the late 1990s.

"This was my reorganization, and anything that results from this will be what I would call more tweaks and responding to changing environments," he said. "I wanted to get this out of the way."

Siegel speaks

Ten-year Turner veteran Siegel, who admitted he was "disappointed but relieved" that he wasn't tapped for Kent's position, said it was time for him to move on.

Kent said Siegel told him about his plans to resign, shortly after he became president on Feb. 18.

Under Siegel, Turner became one of AOL Time Warner's most successful divisions, generating more than $1 billion in revenue.

"By almost any metric or measurement, the networks are in great shape," Siegel said.

Siegel said he will take some time off before deciding what to do next.