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Dec 16, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Monday, Dec. 16

Paxson’s Sagansky moves to vice-chairman

Paxson Communications Corp. President Jeff Sagansky will move to the post of vice-chairman of the company’s board of directors. In addition to his role on the board, Mr. Sagansky will remain as a consultant to the company while relinquishing his title of president and CEO.

“I look forward to Jeff’s continuing contributions to Pax programming,” said Lowell “Bud” Paxson, chairman of Paxson Communications Corp. “In four short years Jeff has helped establish Pax TV as the pre-eminent family television broadcast network, developing such hit shows as ‘Doc,’ ‘Sue Thomas: F.B.Eye,’ ‘It’s a Miracle’ and ‘Just Cause.’ He has been invaluable in bringing the nation’s largest advertisers to Pax as well as creating an economic model for program acquisition that is unique in our business.”

Mr. Sagansky said, “I’m tremendously proud of what we’ve accomplished and feel we have the organization in place to grow and prosper in the year ahead.”

Mr. Paxson said he will take on the responsibilities of CEO of the company while Dean Goodman, president of the Pax TV Network, will become president and chief operating officer of the company. Bill Scott, president of programming, will step into the presidency of the network with responsibility for all programming. Doug Barker moves to president of the Paxson TV Station Group, and Stephen Appel has been named president of sales and marketing, with responsibility for network, national and local sales.

‘Dinotopia’ gets the ax: ABC has canceled “Dinotopia.” Its last episode will air 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. (ET) Thursday, Dec. 26, sources said. Thirteen episodes of the series were produced, but only six will have aired by then. The Hallmark Entertainment-produced series, which was spun off from an ABC miniseries of the same name, got a late launch this season, with its first two episodes not airing until Nov. 28 on Thanksgiving night. Up against NBC’s “Friends” and CBS’s “Survivor,” the series never found an audience, pulling just a 1.3 rating and 3 share among adults 18 to 49 in its most recent airing, according to Nielsen Media Research.

‘Masterpiece Theatre’ loses underwriter: Wanted: $10 million a year to cover the cost of underwriting “Masterpiece Theatre,” which last week learned that its underwriter of more than 30 years, ExxonMobil, is signing off in 2004.

ExxonMobil, which has been the sole sponsor of the signature PBS drama showcase since it debuted in 1971, is the largest sponsor in the history of public television.

A spokeswoman for WGBH-TV, the Boston public TV station that presents “Masterpiece” said the final commitment from ExxonMobil could carry all the way through the end of calendar year 2004, depending on how “Masterpiece” programming is scheduled.

The spokeswoman said there will be a search for new sponsorship.

“We’ll be working with WGBH,” said a spokesman for PBS President Pat Mitchell, who is out of the country.

Gore ‘SNL’ appearance scores: The night before it became known that Democrat Al Gore will not run for president in 2004, the former vice president proved to be the Saturday night Nielsen winner as host of “Saturday Night Live.” In the 55 metered markets, “SNL” averaged a 7.5 rating and 17 share. That’s the best overnight reading for “SNL” since Feb. 2 and outrates all programming on the Big 4 networks’ prime-time lineups Saturday.

Former FCC Chairman Patrick takes post at National Geographic: Former Federal Communications Commission Chairman and AOL executive Dennis Patrick has been named president of National Geographic Ventures as announced today by John Fahey, president and CEO of the National Geographic Society. Mr. Patrick will join the organization Jan. 6, 2003.

“National Geographic is extremely fortunate to have an executive of Dennis’ caliber join our team. He brings a wealth of experience in a range of critical areas, including new technologies, cable and of course the regulatory arena,” said Mr. Fahey.

A former chairman of the FCC, president of AOL Wireless, CEO of Time Warner Telecommunications and, most recently, president and CEO of Patrick Communications and Doeg Hill Ventures LLC, Mr. Patrick is a trustee of the boards of the National Geographic Society and National Geographic Ventures and will give up his seat on the Society’s board when he assumes his new responsibilities. He succeeds Richard Allen, who has been appointed president and CEO of Vulcan Sports Media.

“National Geographic is an incredible institution,” said Mr. Patrick. “The combination of its world-class brand, key assets and most importantly its talented employees gives the organization unlimited potential in a number of existing and emerging markets.”

Fox will air ‘Austin Powers’: Fox will present the world broadcast premiere of “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me,” the second installment of the franchise, Wednesday, Jan. 8 (8 p.m. to 10 p.m., ET). The comedy stars Mike Myers, Heather Graham, Rob Lowe, Verne Troyer, Elizabeth Hurley, Mindy Sterling, Robert Wagner, and Michael York who will reprise the original roles they played in the first Austin Powers movie, “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery.”