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Apr 25, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Winkler, Levitt to executive produce ‘Hollywood Squares’

King World Productions will turn to Henry Winkler and Michael Levitt as its new executive producers for “Hollywood Squares.” The duo will produce episodes to begin airing in the series’ fifth season, which kicks-off in September.

Although known for playing The Fonz on “Happy Days,” Mr. Winkler has served as an executive producer and director on a number of television projects, including the hit series “MacGyver,” which he co-executive produced for seven seasons. In 1984, Winkler founded Fair Dinkum, a production company through which he served as executive producer for the Fox series “Sightings,” currently airing on the Sci Fi Channel, “So Weird” for the Disney Channel and various ABC Afterschool Specials and CBS Schoolbreak Specials.

‘Chris Matthews’ cleared in 70 percent of U.S.: NBC Enterprises has sold upcoming first-run weekend news program “The Chris Matthews Show,” hosted by the anchor of MSNBC’s “Hardball,” in 70 percent of the country, including nine of the top 10 markets, with additional clearances on stations representing 70 percent of the country. The announcement was made Thursday by Barry Wallach, executive VP, NBC Enterprises. “The Chris Matthews Show” is set to launch in fall 2002. The half-hour weekly series will be seen on WNBC-TV, New York; KNBC-TV, Los Angeles; WMAQ-TV, Chicago; WCAU-TV, Philadelphia; KNTV, San Francisco; WCVB-TV, Boston; KXAS-TV, Dallas; WRC-TV, Washington; and WXIA-TV, Atlanta.

Karmazin upbeat on upfront prospects: Viacom President Mel Karmazin said second- and even third-quarter scatter pricing is up as much as 15 percent, with cancellations half to one-third what they were a year ago. He was upbeat although not specific about upfront pricing and volume in remarks to analysts during an earnings call Thursday. But the company said its television unit — which includes CBS, UPN and its owned TV stations — reported a 20 percent decline in cash flow on a 9 percent decline in revenues in the first quarter due to the soft ad market. Viacom posted a wider than expected first quarter loss on a $1.5 billion Blockbluster-related accounting write-down and on flat revenues of $5.67 billion. Viacom net loss of $1.11 billion, or 63 cents a share, compared to a year-earlier loss of $7.3 million, or break-even on a per share basis.

ABC sees signs of market strength as Disney reports solid Q2: ABC sees signs of market strength as Disney reports solid Q2: Walt Disney Co. President Bob Iger said Thursday that ABC was expecting single-digit cost-per-thousand-increases during the impending upfront marketplace, though he declined to name a specific number. Speaking to analysts during a conference call announcing Disney’s second-quarter earnings, Mr. Iger said ABC was seeing early signs of market strength, but he did not know how deep nor how strong it was. Asked if ABC would hold back a significant amount of inventory during the upfront like CBS did last year, Mr. Iger said they would wait until the upfront marketplace developed before making any such decision.

According to Mr. Iger, ABC likely will only fill about 25 percent of ABC Family’s schedule with programming from the broadcast network next season. The new cable channel now carries four ABC programs a month, including “Alias” and “Who’s Line Is It Anyway?”

“We’ve talked about a plan for next year. We’re going to wait and see what makes the most sense, not just in terms of the programming that’s on ABC but in terms of what will mesh well with Family,” he said. ABC Family will offer a blend of original programming, movies and ABC network programming.

Disney reported $5.9 billion in revenue for its second fiscal quarter ended March 31, down 2 percent from the $6.1 billion reported for the same period last year. Profit for the quarter came in $259 million, or 13 cents per share, down from $524 million and 25 cents a share last year. Shares closed at $25, up 2 percent on the day.

ABC reorganizes sales department: The ABC sales department has reorganized, moving away from what the network calls a “daypart-centric approach” to one that focuses more specifically on the newly consolidated mega-agencies.

Just eight agencies now control more than 80 percent of all domestic advertising expenditures, according to ABC, which in a statement cited that new reality as the reason for its reorganization.

The new structure will included so-called client specialists, who will develop marketing partnerships, execute buying and planning goals and finalize deals, as well as daypart strategists, who will be responsible for pricing, inventory management, liaison with programming heads and plan development.

The client specialists group will be headed by Cynthia Ponce, former senior vice president, news sales, who has been promoted to executive vice president, general sales manager for ABC.

Ms. Ponce will report to Mike Shaw, president, sales and marketing for the ABC Television Network, who in turn reports to Alex Wallau, president of the ABC Television Network.

John Caruso, formerly vice president of primetime sales, and Gary Montanus, formerly senior vice president of the Disney Kids Network, have been named senior vice presidents of ABC sales. Both will report to Ms. Ponce. Bill Bund, senior vice president of ABC Unlimited, will continue in that position and now will report to Ms. Ponce.

Client specialists, who will focus on individual agencies, are VPs Carrie Byrne, who will focus on Mindshare and Mediaedge:cia; Andrew Messina, who will focus on Carat and Magna; Tom Storrier, who will focus on Mediavest and Mediacom, and Catherine Sullivan, who will focus on OMD and Zenith. Ms. Byrne and Mr. Messina will report to Mr. Caruso; Mr. Storrier and Ms. Sullivan will report to Mr. Montanus.

The newly named daypart strategists are Max Steelman, vice president of news, Gail Sullivan, senior vice president of daytime, and Geri Wang, senior vice president of primetime. In addition, Patrick McGovern, who has been named senior vice president of sales and strategic planning, will be responsible for planning and pricing for all network dayparts, as well as for leading efforts to position ABC with the media planning community. The strategists will report to Mr. Shaw.

(c) Copyright 2001 by Crain Communications