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Jul 18, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Posted Thursday, July 18

Pittman out in AOL TW restructure

Robert Pittman has resigned as the chief operating officer of AOL Time Warner, the company said today in announcing a operation restructuring in which two senior executives from the Time Warner side of the company were promoted to lead new divisions.

HBO Chairman Jeff Bewkes will lead the company’s newly formed Entertainment & Networks Group, which includes HBO, New Line Cinema, The WB, Turner Networks, Warner Bros. and Warner Music.

Time Inc. Chairman Don Logan will head the new Media & Communications group, which consists of America Online, Time Inc., Time Warner Cable, Time Warner Book Group and Interactive Video unit.

Mr. Pittman’s resignation follows weeks of speculation that he would leave the company as a result of the America Online division’s financial problems and AOL Time Warner’s missed growth targets.

“I’ve decided that after a new CEO is in place at AOL, I won’t return to AOL Time Warner as chief operating officer,” Mr. Pittman said in a prepared statement.

‘Six’ and ‘Sex’ pay off as HBO leads Emmy noms: Nominations announced for the 54th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards today presented a bumper crop for the cable networks, particularly HBO, which led all networks with 93 nominations. Its “Six Feet Under” received the most nods (23 nominations overall), including one for outstanding drama series. HBO was also represented in the outstanding comedy category, with “Sex and the City” (10 nominations) and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” (2 nominations).

The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, which will telecast the 54th Emmy Awards on NBC Sept. 22, offered a wider embrace of new breakout series and stars this year. Fox’s rookie “24” drama, voted as the best series on TV in Electronic Media’s fall/winter and spring/summer 2002 Critics Polls, received 10 series nominations, including for outstanding drama and lead actor (Kiefer Sutherland). Fox’s first-year sitcom, “The Bernie Mac Show” has a nom for lead actor (Bernie Mac).

Nevertheless, it was HBO that ran away with the early acclaim. First-year drama “Six Feet Under,” created by “American Beauty” Oscar winner Alan Ball, earned Mr. Ball a best director nomination. The show also received nods for lead actor (Michael C. Hall and Peter Krause) and lead actress (Rachel Griffiths and Frances Conroy). Out of the 23 nominations overall for “Six Feet Under,” consideration for supporting actor (Freddy Rodriguez) and supporting actress (Lauren Ambrose) was supplemented by three guest actor nods as well.

Steven Spielberg’s and Tom Hanks’ World War II-based HBO miniseries “Band of Brothers” also marched off with the most long-form nominations (19), including nominations for outstanding miniseries, writing and directing. “Sex and City,” a breakthrough winner as outstanding comedy at last year’s Emmy Awards, is back in best consideration and counts lead actress (Sarah Jessica Parker) and supporting actress nods (Cynthia Nixon and Kim Cattrall) among its 10 nominations.

It also appeared that the cable networks continue to make inroads with ATAS members. Even basic cable, not nearly as recognized as the premium network players, got on the map with its first-ever best actor nomination, a nod for Michael Chiklis, star of FX’s “The Shield” (three nominations overall) cop drama. Those “Shield” nominations came despite a previous advertiser boycott campaign waged by the Parents Television Council. A&E also racked up 22 overall nominations, seven of those going to its “Shackleton” miniseries and six for the concert special “Sting in Tuscany: All this Time.”

TNT tallied its most nominations ever (22), with its telefilms “James Dean” (11 nominations) and “Mists of Avalon” (nine nominations) validating the network’s efforts to establish a presence in the original long-form programming arena.

Among all the cable and broadcast networks, NBC came in second with 89 nominations, getting best comedy nominations for “Will & Grace” (13 nominations) and “Friends” (11 nominations), and best drama consideration for “The West Wing” (22 nominations overall) and “Law & Order” (two nominations). “Frasier” also tallied nine nominations. Of particular note, as “Friends” enters its final season next fall, lead actor nods went to Matthew Perry and Matt LeBlanc while Jennifer Aniston is up in the lead actress category.

CBS came in third overall with 50 nominations, including best comedy consideration for “Everybody Loves Raymond” (11 nominations). The Eye’s most-watched sophomore drama “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” (six nominations) is getting first-time consideration in the outstanding drama category and its influential “Survivor” series is a challenger again in the reality (special-class) category, as well as in three other categories.

ABC followed with 35 nominations, counting a robust 11 nominations for first-year spy drama “Alias” (though not for best drama) and seven nods for the miniseries “Dinotopia,” which, despite critics voting it on their “worst” list in the last EM Critics Poll, could be a good omen as it goes to series next fall.

Fox chalked up a nice bounty of 33 nominations, with “24’s” 10 nominations also including consideration in the directing and writing categories; followed by six nods for “Malcolm In The Middle” (including Jane Kaczmarek for lead actress), four nods for “MADtv,” and two each for “Bernie Mac,” “The Simpsons” and “That 70’s Show.”

UPN got its largest tally nominations ever (nine nods), seeing its importation of “Buffy, the Vampire Slayer” (from The WB) get four nominations, while the new “Star Trek” prequel “Enterprise” got five nominations. Both series got consideration in technical categories only. The WB also got all two of its nominations from technical arts consideration for popular freshman drama “Smallville.”

The nominations tally follows in order as HBO (93), NBC (89), CBS (50), ABC (35), Fox (33), A&E (22), TNT (22), PBS (11), Discovery Channel (9), UPN (9), Nickelodeon (6), commercials (6), Showtime (4), The History Channel (4), The Learning Channel (4), VH1 (4), FX (3), Bravo (3), Lifetime (3), and The WB (2) and Cartoon Network (2); single nominations went to E!, MTV and syndication.

In an unusual first for ATAS, six nominations were bestowed to the post-September 11 concert/fund raising special “America: A Tribute to Heroes,” which was telecast on almost all of the broadcast and cable networks. For a complete list of nominees, go to www.emmys.org.

Paxson to sell Fresno TV station to Univision: Paxson Communications, whose relationship with stake-holder NBC has been fractious since NBC bought Telemundo, has agreed to sell Fresno station KPXF-TV to Univision, the dominant Spanish-language network, for $35 million in cash.

“This transaction is the first step in our plans to raise approximately $100 million through the sale of non-core assets and represents a significant step toward maintaining the strength of our liquidity,” said Paxson President and CEO Jeff Sagansky. “We are currently in active discussions with respect to the sale of certain other non-core television stations and, if completed, these station sales will raise an additional $65 million. The other non-core assets we plan to sell are either not broadcasting Pax TV or would not materially diminish the nationwide distribution of Pax.”

Pax has been feeling undervalued, overlooked and hamstrung since Telemundo took the seat at the NBC table that Pax, which had harbored hopes of becoming a full-fledged member of the Peacock family, had expected to occupy.

The Fresno transaction, Pax CFO Tom Severson said, “clearly demonstrates the significant value of the underlying assets of our broadcast platform.” NBC has no right of consent on Pax deals outside the Top 50 markets.

Mr. Severson also said the Fresno and other pending deals “will provide us the liquidity to see us well into 2004, when we expect the company to be generating free cash flow.”#