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Jan 24, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Posted Thursday, Jan. 24, at 1:24 p.m.; last updated at 4:50 p.m.

Hart, Berman promoted at Paramount

Confirming previous speculation (EMonline.com, Jan. 11), Paramount Television Group has undertaken a restructuring of network TV production and distribution divisions, with longtime executives Garry Hart and Joel Berman being promoted to larger roles within the Viacom-owned studio.

Anticipated since the resignation of former Paramount Television Group Chairman Kerry McCluggage last December, Mr. Hart has been promoted to president of Paramount Television Production and Joel Berman has been moved up to president of Paramount Worldwide Television Distribution. The pair will pick up some of Mr. McCluggage’s previous duties.

Mr. McCluggage elected to leave the studio as result of CBS Television Network President and CEO Leslie Moonves gaining oversight of the sister Viacom-owned UPN broadcast network at the beginning of this year.

Jonathan Dolgen, chairman, Viacom Entertainment Group, is said by insiders to be assuming all of Mr. McCluggage’s broad oversight of the Hollywood studio’s TV operations. Mr. Hart and Mr. Berman will now report directly to Mr. Dolgen.

Mr. Berman, who has served as president of the Paramount Domestic Television syndication unit, adds day-to-day oversight of Paramount International Television and Paramount Pay TV, which will have respective division presidents Gary Marenzi and Jack Waterman reporting to him. Mr. Hart will be in charge of Viacom Productions and Big Ticket Television, while Aaron Spelling Television will remain a unit of Viacom Entertainment Group and under Mr. Dolgen’s oversight.

Clearances announced as NATPE ends: The final day of NATPE at the Las Vegas Convention Center proved slow, as is the norm at the annual market. The order of the day involved clearing key stations for next season’s batch of shows. Top news of the day came from the Universal and Warner Bros. camps.

Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution wrapped up major markets for upcoming series “The Caroline Rhea Show” and “Celebrity Justice.” Both shows are now cleared in each of the three top markets.

For “Caroline Rhea,” KCAL-TV in Los Angeles and Chicago’s WCIU-TV are now signed on to join eight ABC owned-and-operated stations, among others, in airing the series. The two stations now bring the strip’s clearances to a 64 percent level. For newsmagazine strip “Celebrity Justice,” the half-hour series now has 18 of the top 20 markets for its fall launch. Among the stations set to air the series are WNBC-TV in New York, KCAL and WMAQ-TV in Chicago.

Universal continues to solidify the success of its two relationship strips, “Blind Date” and “The 5th Wheel.” Current freshman strip “Wheel” renewed its final key market, with KCAL among those renewing the series. It’s expected to have a double run on the station. As for hit strip “Blind Date,” the series has switched stations in several key markets, with Fox stations in Dallas and Houston now on board for the show as well as WPWR-TV in Chicago and KRON-TV in San Francisco.

News Corp.’s Carey steps down: Chase Carey has resigned as co-chief operating officer of News Corp. and as president and chief executive officer of Sky Global Networks, saying the stand-alone global satellite entity he was to have built out for the company is on indefinite hold. Unstable world economies and stock markets are keeping News Corp. from merging its considerable global satellite holdings into a publicly traded entity. That plan also hinged on News Corp. acquiring General Motors’ DirecTV, which now is merging with EchoStar Communications.

“That concept will continue and be pursued when the markets and opportunities are there so it makes sense. But there’s no clear short-term strategy,” Mr. Carey told Electronic Media. “These are still great assets that will grow and develop within News Corp., but not in the independent way originally planned right now. The attraction for me was to have a stand-alone entity that had its own ability to pursue its own strategy. There’s nothing comparable at News Corp. for me right now,” he said.

News Corp. founder and Chairman Rupert Murdoch released a long and affectionate statement praising Mr. Carey as a personal friend and as an executive who helped transform News Corp. into a global power during his 15 years full of “extraordinary accomplishments” with the company.

Mr. Carey praised Mr. Murdoch for having created at News Corp. an environment in which “intelligent risk-taking” is valued and bureaucracy is not. But he added, “It is the right time for me to take a step back and catch my breath.”

Mr. Carey will consult with News Corp. through this year and will remain on the board of directors.

Jack Welch to ‘Squawk’ for CNBC: Jack Welch, the former chairman of NBC parent company General Electric, is keeping his retirement all in the family. Mr. Welch, whose business philosophy has made him an international icon and best-selling author, has been named a “special contributor” to CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” The first of his quarterly appearances as “guest host” will take place Thursday, Feb. 7, the same week that a schedule and lineup change will move “Squawk” to 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. (ET) weekdays.

Tribune, E.W. Scripps report sluggish Q4 earnings: Tribune Co. is the latest media conglomerate to report fourth-quarter results that have been marred by the advertising slump. Fourth-quarter earnings fell 45 percent to $69 million, or 21 cents a share, excluding one-time items, compared with $124.4 million, or 36 cents a share, a year earlier. Fourth-quarter revenues declined 13 percent to $1.32 billion from $1.51 billion, with television revenues off 14 percent.

E.W. Scripps, another traditional broadcast-newspaper company, reported a 23 percent decline in fourth-quarter broadcast revenues to $76.4 million. The company’s overall fourth-quarter earnings were $41.1 million, or 52 cents per share, down from $54.7 million, or 62 cents per share, a year earlier. Overall revenues were $376.8 million, down from $459.6 million. Tribune and Scripps said they see no economic relief ahead.

Fox’s ‘That ’80s Show’ kicks off with demo win: The series premiere of new Fox comedy “That ’80s Show” dominated its time period Wednesday night, winning among adults 18 to 49 and boosting the network to a win in the key demo for the night. “That ’80s Show,” which made its debut in the 8 p.m.-to-8:30 p.m. (ET) time slot, marked Fox’s highest-rated series premiere of the current TV season among adults 18 to 49 with a 6.2 rating/17 share. That score was a 55 percent improvement for the time slot over what a “That ’70s Show” repeat scored last week. Fox’s “Bernie Mac,” “Grounded for Life,” and “Titus” all posted their highest ratings of the season across key measures, helping Fox to a victory in adults 18 to 49 for the night with a 5.5/14.

NBC came in second in adults 18 to 49 for the evening with a 5.0/13, having aired an NBC News special, “Inside the White House,” at 8 p.m. and a “West Wing” repeat at 9 p.m. The Peacock’s score in the key demo was 24 percent lower than its take last week, though the network was first among households for the night with a 10.2/16.

UPN to premiere two new half-hour series: UPN will introduce two new half-hour series on Tuesday, March 5. “As If,” an ensemble dramedy produced by the creative team behind the popular British television series of the same name, will premiere at 9 p.m. (ET). Following at 9:30 p.m. will be “The Random Years,” a comedy about four young adults trying to make a living in New York City. UPN’s young adult sci-fi drama “Roswell” will go on hiatus beginning March 5, and is slated to return with all-original episodes for late April through the May sweeps.

“As If” is a production of Carnival Films in association with Columbia TriStar Domestic Television. “The Random Years” was created by Mike Lisbe and Nate Reger, who also serve as its supervising producers. The executive producers are Judd Pillot and John Peaslee. The series is a Big Phone production in association with Paramount Network Television.

Brokaw to receive RTNDA’s
White Award: NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw will receive the 2002 Paul White Award from the Radio-Television News Directors Association. RTNDA will honor Mr. Brokaw April 8 during the RTNDA convention, which will be held at the National Association of Broadcasters convention.#

(c) Copyright 2002 by Crain Communications