1 Mel Karmazin and Les Moonves
Viacom president and chief operating officer; CBS president and CEO
Power move: Mr. Moonves finally took control of UPN, and Mr. Karmazin won–at least temporarily–a dramatic showdown with Viacom Chairman, CEO and majority owner Sumner Redstone to stay at the company. Like brokers of old, when they speak, everybody is compelled to listen.
Extra value: CBS and UPN both are expected to increase revenues and share of ad dollars next season. The acquisition of powerful indie KCAL-TV gives Viacom a duopoly in Los Angeles.
Cause for concern: Years of abuse and neglect rendered the CBS owned-and-operated stations, including Los Angeles’ KCBS-TV, tough to turn around. UPN quickly proved not to be a pot of repurposed gold last season. And just how much longer will the board-ordered truce between Mr. Karmazin and Viacom Chairman and CEO Sumner Redstone last? Is Wall Street getting tired of the Karmazin/Moonves shtik?
2 Michael Eisner and Robert Iger
Walt Disney Co. chairman and CEO; Walt Disney Co. president and COO
Power move: The acquisition of the Family Channel means another platform in the programming and cross-promotion arsenal, and it’s in the hands of well-regarded Angela Shapiro, whose very presence (and network past) might quell some affiliate resistance to repurposing. Another presence that reflects positively on Mr. Eisner and Mr. Iger is that of ABC Entertainment President Susan Lyne, who continues to win fans and influence people.
Extra value: They think making money on their $2.4 billion piece of the NBA package (split with TNT) is not only possible but likely, given the cross-promotional possibilities in a multimedia kingdom that includes ESPN and radio, which will run the bulk of the games. The kingdom also includes ABC, which will carry 15 Sunday games and the NBA Finals.
Cause for concern: After a truly disastrous 2001-02 season buyers are underwhelmed by ABC’s fall 2002-03 schedule. There is no clear programming strategy for ABC Family, which has been running a mishmosh of reruns of “Alias” and “Whose Line is it Anyway?” ABC still has the smallest owned-stations division in the network business–10 stations reaching some 24 percent of the country–which only raises more questions about just how the network plans to turn things around.
3 Bob Wright and Andy Lack
GE vice chairman and executive officer, NBC chairman and CEO; NBC president and COO
Power move: Newly acquired Telemundo, which gives NBC a direct pipeline to the burgeoning Hispanic market, already shows signs of synergistic growth.
Extra value: Despite recurring suggestions that GE-owned NBC needs a studio connection, without one it continues to be the most profitable, and highest-rated, network.
Cause for concern: The tension between Mr. Wright and Mr. Lack. Clearly, Mr. Wright would be pleased if Mr. Lack went away, but only GE chairman Jeff Immelt knows whether he will. MSNBC continues its zigzag search for an identity that would simultaneously earn respect and profit for NBC. Once hotter-than-hot CNBC cooled along with the stock market. And a lot of people are underwhelmed by the programming developed for NBC’s fall prime-time lineup.
4 Sandy Grushow and Gail Berman
Chairman, Fox TV Entertainment Group; president, Fox Entertainment
Power move: While the 2001-02 season turned out to be one of mixed rating returns, Mr. Grushow and Ms. Berman raised the qualitative bar, with the real-time drama “24” and comedies “The Bernie Mac Show” and “Andy Richter Controls the Universe” drawing raves from TV critics. Mr. Grushow also adeptly guided studio unit 20th Century Fox Television to retain its crown as the top studio supplier heading into the 2002-03 season, while the Fox Television Studios arm had Regency Television cranking out “Malcolm in the Middle” in addition to “Bernie Mac.”
Extra value: Although it remains to be seen how the audience receives Joss Whedon’s “Firefly” and the unusual family relationship drama “Septuplets,” Ms. Berman has Fox looking to aggressively create 9 p.m. dramas for all five nights of its weeknight schedule.
Cause for concern: Down 11 percent in 18-49 ratings last season, Fox has also lost two schedule stalwarts in “The X-Files” and “Ally McBeal.” Also, while Fox arguably has had the greatest success in planting comedies across its schedule, no one knows yet how new dramas, particularly David E. Kelley’s new “Girls Club” legal series, will be received next season.
5 Jamie Kellner and Garth Ancier
Chairman and CEO, Turner Broadcasting System; executive VP, programming, TBS
Power move: Changing the face of CNN and challenging Madison Ave. to make repurposing work by paying higher cable CPMs.
Extra value: Mr. Kellner and Mr. Ancier head a team that has been together, off and on, since the creation of Fox Broadcasting in the ’80s.
Cause for concern: Loss of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and aging dramas led to a 5 percent drop in adults 18-34 ratings at The WB, which is still not showing a profit. Despite oft-repeated vows that they will be careful stewards of CNN and all that it embodies, newsroom purists still ask whether they’re guided primarily by entertainment values as Fox News continues to steal ratings titles.
6 Oprah Winfrey
Chairwoman, Harpo Inc.; co-founder of Oxygen cable network; executive producer, host, “The Oprah Winfrey Show”
Power move: Re-signed with King World for two more years of “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” Meanwhile, Harpo will launch spinoff strip “Dr. Phil” in the fall.
Extra value: Oprah.com averages 35 million page views and 2 million users per month and receives 10,000 e-mails each week. Oprah has a long-term deal with the ABC Television Network to produce “Oprah Winfrey Presents” telefilms.
Cause for concern: Her talk show ends in 2006, which means she loses her bully pulpit.
7 Bill Cella
Chairman, Magna Global USA
Power move: Though Magna, the media negotiations unit of the Interpublic Group, is moving carefully through this year’s upfront, focusing exclusively on national broadcast, Mr. Cella still will control approximately 25 cents of every dollar that will be spent by advertisers on American television this year.
Extra value: Magna’s research capabilities and the market intelligence it has amassed from its clients and other sources arguably give it a better sense of the marketplace than the networks have, and that’s a power shift of the first magnitude.
Cause for concern: When it comes to paradigm-shifting billion-dollar deals, OMD has moved first this year.
8 Brian Roberts
President, Comcast Corp.
Power move: Buying the largest and arguably the most poorly run cable operator in the United States so that third-ranked Comcast can leapfrog past Time Warner Cable to the top of the heap. In doing so he will set the pace for critical developments, including digital cable service rollout, multiple Internet service providers and local cable advertising interconnects. He has gone from being a second-generation executive-in-training to commanding the affairs of not only the family business but also the entire cable industry.
Extra value: Will use AT&T Broadband’s 27 percent stake in the troubled Time Warner Entertainment partnership to get what Comcast wants, such as Liberty Media Corp.’s 42 percent stake in QVC, the robust home shopping service that generates nearly half of Comcast’s sales.
Cause for concern: While new cable economics require scale, no one has been able to effectively manage the big ones.
9 Roger Ailes
Fox News chairman and CEO
Power move: He has hit all his financial targets at a fast run, which makes Fox News Channel a favorite success story of tough-to-please News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch. The potential for growth continues as the channel hits 80 million subscribers this month.
Extra value: Sister network Fox Broadcasting is taking a Fox New
s-produced magazine for a prime-time test drive this summer. Mr. Ailes is focused on growing the Fox News brand next on radio and internationally.
Cause for concern: Similar to what occurred at CNN, Greta Van Susteren is not the sweetheart of Madison Avenue, which may make that hiring gamble by Mr. Ailes one that doesn’t pay off in the long run. With egos as demanding and expanding as those of Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity and Geraldo Rivera being under one roof, how long before Fox News’ star stable destabilizes? Under the unique management of Mr. Ailes, it could be longer than any other network might be able to manage.
10 Michael Powell
Chairman, Federal Communications Commission
Power move: Unveiled an ambitious plan to spur the digital TV transition by calling on consumer electronics manufacturers, cable operators and broadcasters to share the pain. While compliance is supposedly voluntary at this point, he has made clear that he’s open to imposing a rule if the industry fails to embrace his proposal with sufficient ardor.
Extra value: For advocates of deregulation, he has certainly indicated that he’s in their camp. The 39-year-old son of Secretary of State Colin Powell is widely perceived to be in the infancy of his political career, with a run for the U.S. Senate from his home state of Virginia a possibility.
Cause for concern: When it comes to actually delivering on deregulation, Mr. Powell thus far has been all talk, no action, leaving some industry proponents of deregulation on the verge of despair. If he can’t deliver on DTV, there goes his regulatory legacy.
11 Sam Haskell and Mark Itkin
Worldwide head of television, William Morris Agency; executive VP/worldwide head of cable and syndication, William Morris Agency
Power move: Credited as having the most diversified portfolio of broadcast network, cable network and syndicated TV shows, Mr. Haskell’s television department is estimated to package 50 shows on behalf of stars, producer-writers and production companies. Major inroads were made by Mr. Itkin in the reality arena, particularly with the packaging of Endemol’s new reality hits “Fear Factor” (NBC), “Spy TV” (NBC) and “Big Brother 3” (CBS), in addition to “Dog Eat Dog” (NBC) and the first-run syndication launches of “Weakest Link” and “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.”
Extra value: Renewed growth in scripted series came with 2002-03 season pickups of split-package comedies “The Grubbs” (Fox), “Do Over” (The WB) and “Meet the Marks” (Fox) in addition to CBS’s midseason pickup of the Oliver Platt-led drama “Queens Supreme.” Cable has also represented a huge growth area, with “Strong Medicine” (Lifetime) and “Queer as Folk” (Showtime) among the packages set up by the 106-year-old Hollywood agency. So-called “corporate consulting clients” include such blue-chippers as Anheuser-Busch, General Motors, Harrah’s Entertainment, eBay, Texas Instruments and the National Football League.
Cause for concern: Growing restlessness among studios and agencies to pull back agency fees.
12 Barry Diller
Chairman and CEO, USA Interactive; chairman and CEO, Vivendi Universal Entertainment
Power move: The shaper of broadcast networks such as Fox and ABC doesn’t need to own one to succeed. He is using a $5 billion cash hoard to expand USA’s interactive businesses anchored by Ticketmaster, Home Shopping Network and Expedia. He has stayed out of the fracas in France involving controversial Vivendi Universal Chairman Jean-Marie Messier and instead has overseen the integration of what was his USA Networks Inc. cable network and production operations with those of Universal.
Extra value: Smart and cunning, he could wind up commanding a power base spanning New York, Hollywood and Paris that could act as leverage for adding bigger pieces such as NBC.
Cause for concern: The mess created by Mr. Messier could stifle Vivendi Universal Entertainment’s growth or eventual spinoff.
13 Tom Freston
Chairman and CEO, MTV Networks
Power move: Ozzy, Ozzy, Ozzy.
Extra value: Ozzy,Ozzy, Ozzy. Did we mention Ozzy?
Cause for concern: No Ozzy at VH1.
14 Jerrold Perenchio
Chairman and CEO, Univision
Power move: Launching Telefutura, a new network, in the depths of the worst advertising recession in memory. Despite the fact that its main competitor, Telemundo, now has new deep-pocket ownership, Univision remains the dominant player in the Spanish-language TV market, with a strong new schedule that includes not only the World Cup and its telenovela staples but also such racy new series as sketch comedy show “Playa Tropical.”
Extra value: Recent U.S. Census figures show a fast-growing Spanish-speaking population that bodes well for the company’s future success.
Cause for concern: Deep-pocketed NBC bought rival Telemundo.
15 James Burrows
Director, executive producer
Power move: Based on his 32-plus years of directing hit TV series, the mere attachment of James Burrows as director to a pilot always increases the odds of a series pickup by the broadcast networks. Mr. Burrows’ services on two fall 2002 comedies, CBS’s “Bram & Alice” and NBC’s “Good Morning, Miami,” already have ad buyers and TV critics eagerly anticipating his signature Broadway-like ensemble touch.
Extra value: Mr. Burrows’ reteaming with former “Taxi” star Christopher Lloyd, who is now executive producing “Bram & Alice,” generated some good adult comedy buzz from ad buyers two weeks ago.
Cause for concern: Although he has been involved in directing more than 50 comedies and his shows have a high batting average in the lucrative off-network syndication market, Mr. Burrows has shepherded only a few major long-term hits (“Friends,” “Will & Grace” and “Frasier”) over the past half-dozen years.
16 Jeffrey Bewkes
Chairman and CEO, HBO
Power move: “It’s not TV, it’s HBO” is more than just a promotional slogan, it’s the above-it-all way the leading premium pay channel operates. Mr. Bewkes, who combines a patrician mien with an affable manner, can greenlight $150 million productions without consulting so much as a focus group, much less the honchos at AOL Time Warner. Then again, HBO is profitable, adding $725 million to the parent company’s coffers last year.
Extra value: A moving and touching Sept. 11 tribute, “In Memoriam,” that was everything CBS’s tribute wasn’t.
Cause for concern: “Sopranos” and “Sex and the City” are nearing their end.
Trajectory: Up, though he has told acquaintances he’s not interested in up, which would lead to the realm of corporate political infighting.)
17 Bruce Rosenblum, Peter Roth, Dick Robertson and Jim Paratore
Executive VP, Warner Bros. Television Group; president, Warner Bros. Television; president, Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution; president, Telepictures Productions
Power move: Considered an affable and collegial studio head, Mr. Rosenblum joined ABC Television Group Executive VP Mark Pedowitz in crafting an unprecedented broadcast/cable shared-window licensing deal, which also guaranteed a sliding-scale fee to protect the back-end syndication value of big-budget TV series. The deal, set up for the recent midseason entry “The Court” (starring Sally Field), unfortunately was more alluring in business circles than with the viewing public; the show was canceled after three airings. Mr. Rosenblum also played a key role in getting the “Friends” cast to renew–at $1 million per episode each–for one more year with NBC.
Extra value: Because of Mr. Rosenblum’s open-ended deals with a competitor such as Disney’s ABC, Warner Bros. Television–a network production unit under Mr. Roth’s guidance–sold a total of 18 series to five of the six broadcast networks for fall 2002, good for second place among suppliers. Meanwhile, Mr. Paratore’s growing Telepictures unit planted network reality hit “The Bachelor” on ABC and has The WB queuing up for “High School Reunion
” this summer. Mr. Robertson’s domestic syndication domain, historically a huge back-end moneymaker with “Friends” and other past network hits, has NBC Studios’ “Will & Grace” poised for a fall 2002 off-network launch.
Cause for concern: “ER” has dropped a notch in the ratings (just behind stablemate “Friends”), and there is speculation how much further Warner Bros. can take the show beyond the two remaining seasons in its record-setting contract–at $13.2 million per episode–with NBC.
18 Jeff Zucker
President, NBC Entertainment
Power move: As a longtime “Today” show wunderkind producer and prodigy of NBC Chairman Bob Wright, Mr. Zucker recently consolidated his growing clout in NBC’s West Coast office by picking up Scott Sassa’s oversight of NBC Enterprises, The NBC Agency and NBC Studios. With Mr. Sassa being reassigned to “strategic projects,” it has been widely speculated that Mr. Wright is further recognizing Mr. Zucker’s role in leading NBC to its key adult demo, total viewer and household wins for the 2001-02 season.
Extra value: Since coming aboard as the Peacock programming chief in December 2000, Mr. Zucker has rocked NBC’s world with “super-size” episodes of “Friends” and “Will & Grace,” and successfully dragged the network into the reality arena with the hits “Fear Factor” and “Weakest Link.” He also launched top-rated freshman dramas “Crossing Jordan” (from NBC Studios with Tailwind Prods.) and “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.” In adding only five new shows to NBC’s schedule for the coming season (in addition to renewing “Friends” for a super-hyped series finale next season), NBC will be the one to beat again in 2002-03.
Cause for concern: Mr. Zucker still is trying to prove his comedy development chops. So far, such duds as “Emeril,” “Inside Schwartz” and “Leap of Faith” did not live up to the heightened expectations of TV industry types after NBC’s long line of smart, adult comedies.
19 David Letterman
Host, “Late Night With David Letterman”; co-owner, co-founder, Worldwide Pants
Power move: Though he’s still No. 2 in the ratings to NBC’s Jay Leno in the late-night talk wars, Mr. Letterman flexed his muscle in March when he toyed with the idea of leaving CBS for ABC, a move that resulted in a hysteria-soaked, highly publicized fight for his services between the two networks. The stir proved, once again, that the ex-NBC dweller could make his on-air home anywhere he wants to.
Extra value: Negotiated extra promotional muscle from CBS into his contract. Not only is Mr. Letterman a late-night talk show staple, his Worldwide Pants production company co-produces one of the most successful sitcoms on television, “Everybody Loves Raymond” (CBS), as well as “Ed” (NBC) and “Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn” (CBS). And according to his new contract, Letterman gets a $31 million salary from CBS on top of the $40 million the network pays to license the show from–you guessed it–Worldwide Pants.
Cause for concern: Aging fast
20 Dana Walden and Gary Newman
Presidents, 20th Century Fox Television
Power move: Ms. Walden and Mr. Newman, who alternate between creative affairs and business affairs, again kept the studio at top of the Hollywood heap (four years running) with 19 shows sold to the broadcast networks for fall.
Extra value: Even with audience sampling of comedies hard to come by in recent years, 20th planted tentpole hits “Reba” for The WB and “Bernie Mac” (with sister Regency Television) for Fox this season. Early buzz appears strong for the Fox sitcoms “Oliver Beene” and “Cedric the Entertainer,” in addition to CBS’s pickup of “Still Standing.”
Cause for concern: Despite Fox’s renewal of critics’ favorite “24,” it remains to be seen how the modestly rated serialized drama will be revamped next season to spark further growth. The 2002-03 haul of 19 shows for 20th Century Fox actually represented a decline from 24 shows at the beginning of the 2001-02 season.
21 Sen. Ernest Hollings
Chairman, Senate Commerce Committee
Power move: He demanded that the Justice Dept. return media merger oversight to the FTC and that’s what happened. Reassuming the helm at Senate Commerce after the Democrats regained control of the upper chamber last year put this veteran lawmaker back in the regulatory driver’s seat, making him the most influential voice in Congress on media issues.
Extra value: Hollings has been down this road before, having served as Senate Commerce chairman from 1987 to 1994. He’s well-respected on the other side of the aisle and is never afraid to speak his mind and take on the Bush administration.
Cause for concern: The Democrats only control the Senate by a one-seat margin, so power could easily shift to the Republicans in November. At 80, Hollings is no spring chicken, despite his seemingly boundless energy. The senator can be surprisingly media-shy–and for good reason: He’s prone to saying things that get him into trouble.
22 Dick Wolf
Creator and executive producer of NBC’s “Law & Order” triumvirate and “Crime & Punishment” and ABC’s “Dragnet.”
Power move: Mr. Wolf will help fill ABC’s “Monday Night Football” void when the NFL season ends next winter. ABC ordered 13 episodes of the modernized “Dragnet” on the basis of a script and Mr. Wolf’s name and enviable track record.
Extra value: Mr. Wolf has teamed with Oscar-winning documentarian Bill Guttentag to try his hand at a real-life courtroom drama. The buzz on the resulting 13-episode “Crime & Punishment,” which debuts at 10 p.m. Sunday, June 16, is promising.
Cause for concern: With a slew of law-themed shows on the air this fall, viewers may be looking for more disorder.
23 Joel Berman and Garry Hart
President, Paramount Worldwide Television Distribution; president, Paramount Television Production
Power move: Both executives continued to ascend the ranks with promotions and added responsibilities last January, taking over Paramount’s television production.
Extra value: Mr. Berman’s division currently distributes seven series in first-run syndication, including top magazine strip “Entertainment Tonight” and top court shows “Judge Judy” and “Judge Joe Brown.” Upcoming for the fall season are “Dr. Phil,” in partnership with King World, and “Life Moments.” Mr. Hart developed or oversaw “Frasier,” “Becker,” “JAG” and “Enterprise.”
Cause for concern: Difficulty launching “Becker” into syndication
24 Carole Black
President and CEO of Lifetime Entertainment Services
Power move: Under Ms. Black, the network has surged from sixth to first place in the household cable ratings, making its mark with such original Sunday night series as “The Division” and “Strong Medicine” and with strong original movies that attract top female Hollywood talent.
Extra value: New three-year contract keeping her at Lifetime and out of the shark-infested waters of sibling ABC.
Cause for concern: Despite new contract, temptation may be too great to move on.
25 Neal Shapiro
NBC News president
Power move: With Katie Couric and Matt Lauer under new contracts, “Today’s” top talent is secure. And with “Dateline NBC” retaining its three hours next fall, the division’s prime-time franchise is stable. Mr. Shapiro exhibited Zen-like calm as he waited for Tom Brokaw, whose contract as “NBC Nightly News” anchor and managing editor was to expire in August, to decide to stay at the helm of the flagship newscast. Now the next generation is set with the official decision to replace Mr. Brokaw with Brian Williams after the 2004 presidential election.
Extra value: NBC News Productions is humming along, churning out content for others. The addition of Telemundo to the family gives Mr. Shapiro a unique opportunity to share talent and programming costs.
Cause for concern: MSNBC must become more competitive and credible.
26 Mike Ramsay
Chairman and CEO, TiVo
Power move: Since its inception in 1997, the TiVo personal video recording system has enjoyed support from companies that easily could be its fiercest opponents, including Philips Electronics, Sony, AOL Time Warner and Hughes Electronics’ DirecTV. TiVo is rapidly moving to mass adoption, a result of the company’s prescient strategy that takes advantage of consumer appetites for empowering technology and the widespread availability of interactive digital cable services.
Extra value: Mr. Ramsay recently agreed to work with Liberty Media Corp. and its Starz Encore Group and DirecTV to test the first-ever consumer-friendly subscription video-on-demand service in DBS and digital video recording environments. Plans are in place for more such joint ventures to extend TiVo’s reach beyond its estimated 400,000 subscribers and $19.4 million annual revenue base to capture more of what is expected to be a 36 million-household footprint in the United States for PVR services by 2005.
Cause for concern: The personal recording technology that has been unique to companies such as TiVo will increasingly become integrated into all TVs, rendering the concept status quo in an interactive digital cable marketplace.
27 Charlie Ergen
Chairman and CEO of EchoStar Communications
Power move: Beat out News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch in the race to acquire rival DBS service DirecTV. Actually, victory over Mr. Murdoch was an easier accomplishment than securing regulatory approval to create the dominant domestic satellite concern in the United States–a struggle that has turned into the fight of Mr. Ergen’s life, and most observers believe he’ll lose.
Extra value: Has the determination and the assets to be a major force in satellite distribution even if the DirecTV deal falls through
Cause for concern: Crude diplomacy and people skills
28 Mitch Stern
Chairman and CEO, Fox Television Stations
Power move: Dubbed “the gatemaster” by rivals, Mr. Stern received approval last year to incorporate Chris-Craft Industries stations into the Fox stations group. The additional stations provided duopolies in major markets, including New York and Los Angeles, allowing increased promotion, strengthening the affiliates and garnering added profits for the station group.
Extra value: Under Mr. Stern’s leadership, the station group has shown market share gains of 21 percent, while station advertising paced up 6 percent last quarter, the first rise in six quarters. He oversees Twentieth Television, one of the industry’s largest suppliers of first-run and off-net syndicated programming, and Fox Sports Net Regional Sales.
Cause for concern: Rival newscasts in duopoly markets have some insiders worried about the future of news.
29 Lloyd Braun, Susan Lyne and Stephen McPherson
Chairman, ABC Entertainment Television Group; president, ABC Entertainment; president, Touchstone Television
Power move: In progress. Mr. Braun, along with Mr. McPherson, is betting that sister Disney company Touchstone Television will turn ABC around, since Touchstone is supplying 10 series to the network for the new season.
Extra value: Ms. Lyne has already begun to win fans in the advertising and creative communities for her emphasis on story-driven rather than star-driven TV shows.
Cause for concern: ABC is in serious trouble if Ms. Lyne can’t turn the network around. Jimmy Kimmel said it best at ABC’s upfront presentation last month: “Susan, Lloyd, it is unlikely either of you will be here when the show launches.”
30 Nancy Josephson and Bob Levinson
Co-presidents, ICM; Mr. Levinson is head of Worldwide Television, ICM
Power move: Ms. Josephson and Mr. Levinson represented “Friends” producers through the single-most-important renewal negotiation for the 2002-03 season, working with other agencies to secure a roughly $7 million-per-episode license fee for the NBC sitcom.
Extra value: Sold nine series packages (some of them split) to five of the six broadcast networks for fall
Cause for concern: Is there another “Friends” in its future?
31 John Malone
Chairman, Liberty Media Corp.
Power move: Mr. Malone is bucking to morph Liberty’s 4 percent nonvoting stake in AOL Time Warner into at least a 20 percent voting stake to wield more control over the beleaguered giant.
Extra value: Despite several years of poor returns on Liberty’s investments, Mr. Malone commands considerable power through his stakes in media companies, including News Corp., for which he is prepared to back a second bid for DirecTV should EchoStar’s acquisition be nixed by government regulators.
Cause for concern: Has the master lost his touch? The next round of deal-making will tell.
32 Lee Gabler
Co-chairman, head of Worldwide Television, CAA
Power move: Plenty of shows on fall schedules. Major series packages include “CSI” and spinoff “CSI: Miami” (both on CBS) in addition to new fall comedies “Cedric the Entertainer” (Fox) and “Greetings From Tucson” (The WB).
Extra value: Mr. Gabler is developing “corporate marketing” accounts with such heavyweights as Coca-Cola Co., Motorola and Kmart, the last of which came aboard through a broad entertainment marketing relationship with advertising holding company giant Omnicom.
Cause for concern: Studios and unions fighting escalating agency fees.
33 John Wells
Executive producer of NBC’s “ER,” “The West Wing” and “Third Watch”
Power move: Mr. Wells has prescribed “Presidio Med,” a femme-focused medical drama, for CBS’s fall schedule.
Extra value: The founding “ER” team of Lydia Woodward and Chris Chulack is working with Mr. Wells on “Presidio Med.”
Cause for concern: Shades of the “ER” vs. “Chicago Hope” face-off: “Presidio Med,” based in San Francisco, is scheduled head-to-head with ABC’s “Meds,” also based in San Francisco.
34 Walter Isaacson and Teya Ryan
Chairman and CEO, CNN News Group; executive VP and general manager, CNN/U.S.
Power move: Ms. Ryan had the reputation of being a golden girl when she was abruptly handed the reins of CNN/U.S. this year and Mr. Isaacson stepped back from the day-to-day operations (except when The New York Times comes calling for executive quotes).
Extra value: A new street-level studio will raise the news network’s profile in New York this summer.
Cause for concern: Ms. Ryan has received the same mandate Mr. Isaacson did: restore CNN’s brand to dominance in the cable news universe. But she can’t spend as freely as he did, and since he helped create the very thing CNN had always eschewed–a star system–she must deal with egos and star-driven vehicles that are putting CNN’s Atlanta-based infrastructure to the test. Nobody thinks Mr. Isaacson is prepared for or interested in so painstaking a makeover.
35 Jerry Bruckheimer
Executive producer, “CSI” franchise, “The Amazing Race” and “Without a Trace”
Power move: One of a few major filmmakers to make a successful transition to television producing, Mr. Bruckheimer and his fledgling TV unit are ablaze. First came the breakout ratings success of CBS’s “CSI” last season, then “The Amazing Race” reality competition this season.
Extra value: Further exploiting an established franchise, Mr. Bruckheimer has set the ready-made spinoff “CSI: Miami”–which enjoyed a 27 million-viewer sneak peek during the May sweeps–to take over CBS’s 10 p.m. Monday hour next season. His worth to CBS’s drama-heavy lineup also came through on the missing-persons drama “Without a Trace,” expected by ad buyers to challenge “ER.”
Cause for concern: Given the rush demand for anything carrying the Bruckheimer imprimatur, some are wondering whether his production auspices will soon be spread too thin.
36 Chris Harbert, Jay Sures and Sue Naegle
Partners/co-heads of UTA Television Department
Power move: Largest number of freshman series packages among agencies renewed for their second year, including “Bernie Mac” and “Andy Richter Controls the Universe” on Fox Broadcasting, “Baby Bob” on CBS, “George Lopez” on ABC, “Law and Order: Criminal Intent” on NBC and “Smallville” on The WB.
Extra value: Helped AOL Time Warner’s HBO establish prime-time juggernaut with a number of hit series such as “The Sopranos,” “Six Feet Under,” “Oz,” the upcoming “Baseball Wives” and “Arli$$.”
Cause for concern: Last to jump into reality game.
37 Robert Greenblatt and David Janollari
Executive producers; founders of the Greenblatt Janollari Studio
Power move: Scored both audiences and critical acclaim for HBO’s “Six Feet Under.” Executive produced “American Family” for PBS.
Extra value: Last season, the duo had five series on the air on a range of broadcast and cable networks. Those series include the UPN hit comedy series “The Hughleys,” starring “King of Comedy” D.L. Hughley; “The Chronicle,” a new action-adventure series on the Sci Fi Channel; and UPN’s “One on One.”
Cause for concern: No new series on broadcast networks’ fall schedules
38 Bob Cook
President and COO, Twentieth Television
Power move: Developed a successful testing and incubation program development model, which produced the No. 1 new first-run syndicated strip “Texas Justice” as well as the national launch of first-run daytime strip “Good Day Live” and first-run afternoon strip “The Rob Nelson Show.” With time slots opening up on the former Chris-Craft stations, prime-time and late-night shows are likely to be on the way.
Extra value: Increased sales for the company on an annual basis by 60 percent since his arrival in 2000. Made cable network sales of “NYPD Blue” and “X-Files” to multi-platform and multi-cable owners for a second cycle totaling hundreds of millions of dollars. Nearly back-to-back sales of “Judging Amy,” “Roswell” and “M*A*S*H” also totaled hundreds of millions of dollars. Grew Twentieth’s ad sales unit from fifth in the industry to nearly second place. In addition, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “The Practice” opened their first off-net seasons with a bang last fall.
Cause for concern: Sluggish economy could hurt future off-net sales.
39 Billy Tauzin
Chairman, House Energy and Commerce Committee
Power move: Republican Rep. Tauzin of Louisiana fended off a challenge in 2000 from Rep. Mike Oxley, R-Ohio, to head House Commerce, putting the GOP Cajun in the spotlight on an influential panel that governs the television biz and other key sectors of the economy.
Extra value: With his bayou charm and cheerful good-ol’-boy demeanor, Rep. Tauzin has a winning personality that allows him to build alliances across party lines.
Cause for concern: Has yet to break through as a widely recognized national figure despite extensive media coverage–and he’ll never live down the fact that he switched political parties. (He used to be a Democrat.) Critics think he’s pushing controversial broadband legislation that favors the Bell phone companies so he can tap their deep pockets for campaign contributions.
40 David E. Kelley
Executive producer, “Boston Public,” “The Practice,” “Girls Club”
Power move: He used his clout to get Fox to commit to the femme-fatale legal drama “Girls Club”–in place of his canceled “Ally McBeal” drama–on Monday nights at 9 p.m. for next fall.
Extra value: “Boston Public” still strong player for Fox on Monday nights.
Cause for concern: Comes up with great concepts for series but takes them wildly over the top.
41 Cast of `Friends’
The keystone of NBC’s “Must See” Thursday
Power move: Climbed to the No. 1 series on television in its eight season–an unprecedented feat.
Extra value: Granted NBC one last season.
Cause for concern: Granted NBC one last season.
42 Ed Wilson
President, NBC Enterprises
Power move: New venture with Hearst-Argyle Television to combine production and distribution units; built the syndication unit for NBC and created unprecedented deals including the formation of a partnership with Hearst-Argyle, Gannett and NBC O&O stations; developed “Weakest Link” and sold the show in 80 percent of the country; re-acquired distribution rights to “Access Hollywood”; developed and sold the only freshman talk show to be renewed in the 2001-02 season, “The Other Half”; established repurposing deals for “Late Night With Conan O’ Brien” and “Last Call With Carson Daly” talk shows; developed two additional shows featuring John Walsh and Chris Matthews for fall 2002.
Extra value: He literally built a company while launching five new programs.
Cause for concern: NBC O&Os are running out of time slots.
43 Ted Harbert
President, NBC Studios
Power move: Since he took the top role at the studio in 1999, Mr. Harbert has brought television’s No. 1 network such hits as “Will & Grace,” “Scrubs,” “Providence” and “Crossing Jordan.” For this fall, NBC Studios is supplying three more new series, “Boomtown” (with DreamWorks SKG), “In-Laws,” (with Paramount) and Hidden Hills (with Primarily Entertainment).
Extra value: Has a quarter of a century of network television experience to draw on, having worked for 20 years for ABC and for two years for DreamWorks SKG before joining NBC Studios. Scored the studio a record 28 prime-time Emmy nominations in 2000.
Cause for concern: Under Mr. Harbert’s leadership the studio has also produced some colossal misses, including “Emeril,” “Leap of Faith” and “Inside Schwartz.” With his former boss, Scott Sassa, out, where does Mr. Harbert fit into Jeff Zucker’s big NBC picture?
44 Joss Whedon
Executive producer/writer “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Angel” and “Firefly”
Power move: The move of “Buffy” from The WB to UPN gave UPN its highest-rated drama among adults 18 to 34. Fox has targeted “Firefly” for a Friday night airing next season.
Extra value: Wrote the script, music and lyrics and directed the best hour of television this season–the “Buffy” musical episode “Once More With Feeling.”
Cause for concern: “Firefly” pilot is being retooled.
45 Roger King
Chairman and CEO, CBS Enterprises and King World Productions
Power move: Cleared Oprah protege “Dr. Phil” in 95 percent of the country for a launch this fall. Entered the off-net market with a bang, as “Everybody Loves Raymond” finishes its first season in syndication behind only “Friends” and “Seinfeld.” Played the “Oprah” card, securing renewals of the talk show in 80 percent of the country through 2006.
Extra value: Game show duo “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy” both passed benchmark anniversaries as the top two series in syndication, still outperforming most prime-time shows.
Cause for concern: King World distributes “Hollywood Squares,” which just lost Whoopi Goldberg as the game show’s center square and executive producer. Henry Winkler will now executive produce the show, but if Mr. King doesn’t come up with an on-air replacement for Whoopi fast, many think the show could become a major King World liability.
46 Gavin Polone
Head of Pariah Productions, partner in Hofflund/Polone Management
Power move: Pariah set up shop at NBC in a sweet deal that limits Mr. Polone’s financial liability.
Extra value: Mr. Polone sold two series projects for 2002-03–the drama “Hack” to CBS and the revival of comedy “Family Affair” to The WB. He also scored with edgy telefilms (HBO’s “When Trumpets Fade”) and features (“The Panic Room,” “Drop Dead Gorgeous,” “Stir of Echoes”).
Cause for concern: WB scheduled “Family Affair” against NBC’s “Friends.”
47 Irwin Gotlieb
Chairman and CEO, MindShare Worldwide
Power move: One of the architects of the modern mega-ag
ency, presiding over the smooth integration of Ogilvy & Mather and J. Walter Thompson in the United States, a crucial element in the creation of MindShare.
Extra value: In the media world, size matters, and never more so than in this year’s upfront.
Cause for concern: Increased competition
48 Richard Weitz and Sean Perry
Partner and head of TV literary department, Endeavor; head of alternative programming, Endeavor
Power move: Mr. Weitz was named a partner in the agency, marking the first time a partner has risen through the ranks of the 7-year-old agency. Together Mr. Weitz and Mr. Perry beefed up the television presence of World Wrestling Entertainment, restructured the overall deal for MTV’s “The Osbournes” and extended Carson Daly beyond MTV with a late-night show on NBC and a radio outlet.
Extra value: Restructured John Walsh’s “America’s Most Wanted” contract, extending his stay with the Fox show but also freeing him to sign with NBC Enterprises for the upcoming “John Walsh Show.”
Cause for concern: Can young agency blossom in shadow of behemoths?
49 Edward Fritts
President and CEO, National Association of Broadcasters
Power move: Led industry opposition that derailed legislation that would have forced broadcasters to provide steep new advertising discounts to political candidates. The Torricelli Amendment, promoted by Sen. Robert Torricelli, D-N.J., had already been approved by the Senate in a 69-to-31 vote, and many industry observers thought it was destined to become the centerpiece of campaign reform legislation. But after Mr. Fritts and the broadcasters weighed in, the House of Representatives rejected the provision 327-101, a move that saved stations millions of dollars a year.
Extra value: With 20 years of experience as NAB’s chief, Mr. Fritts’ connections are hard to beat. His longtime friendship with Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., has helped out, although NAB’s political power has diminished in recent years, with all the Big 4 TV networks except ABC giving up their membership.
Cause for concern: Could be a tad too old-fashioned for the industry’s good. Chomps cigars.
50 Larry Wilmore
Executive producer, creator, “The Bernie Mac Show” (Fox)
Power move: Introduced the series that gave rising star Bernie Mac a platform for his rare comic talent and captured the No. 1 rating among the African American demographic.
Extra value: The show has proved to have cross-cultural popularity, evidence that Mr. Wilmore has his finger on the pulse of not only the African American segment but the wider viewer universe as well. With acting and writing experience to boot, he has the versatility, creativity and know-how to get things done in television–and he is one of a handful who know how to reach African American audiences.
Cause for concern: Risks getting pigeonholed