Herzog named USA president

Mar 12, 2001  •  Post A Comment

USA Network is hoping Doug Herzog can find that “South Park”-like hit that has so far eluded the cable network.
Mr. Herzog, most recently president of entertainment at Fox, was named to the new position of USA president by USA Cable President Stephen Chao.
“He’s a very, very strong programmer,” Mr. Chao said. “In a time when there are so many broadcast and cable general-entertainment competitors, the priority is to create interesting, compelling programs.”
Mr. Herzog arrives at the same time USA Executive Vice President Rob Sorcher is leaving to “pursue other interests.” Hired in September, Mr. Sorcher would have reported to Mr. Herzog had he stayed on.
Sources close to the situation said Mr. Sorcher quit after he found out that Mr. Herzog had been hired when USA Networks Chairman Barry Diller leaked it last week at the Bear Stearns media conference in Boca Raton, Fla.
But Mr. Chao said Mr. Sorcher’s resignation was by “mutual consent.” Mr. Sorcher couldn’t be reached for comment.
Mr. Herzog, who will work out of USA’s Los Angeles office, is a cable veteran who spent 11 years at MTV Networks, rising to executive vice president of programming and president of MTV Productions. Mr. Herzog was then hired as Comedy Central president in 1995 and is credited with discovering “South Park.”
Mr. Herzog’s stint as head of Fox entertainment wasn’t as successful. Hired in November 1998, he left in March 2000 but was credited for finding Fox’s hit “Malcolm in the Middle.”
Mr. Herzog’s appointment won’t change USA Network’s current program development slate, which has a heavy accent on original movies, miniseries and special events.
At the winter critics tour in January, USA showed off its “Eco Challenge” reality special created by “Survivor” producer Mark Burnett.
“All those things that you heard about will absolutely continue,” Mr. Chao said. “There is not going to be a programming facelift because it’s not like USA is a broken beast.”
While Mr. Herzog’s programming forte has been finding comedy series, Mr. Chao said USA’s program development slate won’t shift from reality, action-adventure and drama to comedies.
“The door’s not closed on comedy, but it’s not the first stop on the train,” Mr. Chao said. “In history and present-day terms we certainly have more of a bias to the hour drama.”