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Jun 5, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Alfano Named President of Broadway Video Television

The long-awaited switch for NBC comedy development Senior VP JoAnn Alfano is a reality, as she has been named president of Broadway Video Television, “Saturday Night Live” creator Lorne Michaels’ production company, which has a new development deal with NBC.

Ms. Alfano will focus on developing prime-time projects for NBC. Among her early priorities will be the “Tracy Morgan Show,” which was developed for the fall lineup but is being tweaked and buffed for midseason debut.

Ms. Alfano’s new assignment is effective immediately. The timing is believed to be related at least in part to a likely broader restructuring of NBC Entertainment units to accommodate the expected hiring of FX Entertainment President Kevin Reilly in a role that could position him as successor to the entertainment throne when Entertainment President Jeff Zucker returns to New York and continues his move up the corporate ladder.

“This was an opportunity I just couldn’t resist. I’m joining someone who in comedy is a legend,” said Ms. Alfano, while packing her office Thursday for the move across the street to NBC Studios. “Lorne is a talent magnet. I know a lot of writers out here.”

The immediacy of Ms. Alfano’s move is good news to Broadway Video Chairman Lorne Michaels, who confessed to having occasionally felt “on some level we were a stepchild” and who has a renewed optimism about being able to capitalize on the cast, the writers and the producers assembled by “SNL” and who also feels a sense of relief that the presence of Ms. Alfano on the West Coast will relieve some of the stress on “SNL” executives who juggle development trips to Hollywood with the intense production of “SNL.”

Mr. Michaels said that NBC Entertainment President Jeff Zucker, whose long run on the New York-based “Today” show gave him a feel for the talent on- and off-camera at “SNL,” really wants to tap into that talent pool.

“I think he is trying to give us as much support as he can,” said Mr. Michaels, for whom Alfano was a publicist when she joined the network in New York in the mid-1980s. “I’m very happy we are getting someone as good and experienced and who is taken as seriously at very high levels in the company as JoAnn is. No one understands NBC and the workings of NBC better than JoAnn.”

Ms. Alfano rose from director of media relations for prime-time series to director of current comedy shows in the early 1990s and in 1994 became vice president of prime-time series for NBC Studios in 1994. She was named senior VP of drama development for the network in May 1999 and was given oversight of all prime-time comedy series development for the network in June 2000. Over the course of those assignments, she oversaw shows ranging from “Homicide: Life on the Street” and “”The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” to “Ed” and “Good Morning Miami.”

“The good news,” said Ms. Alfano,” is that you keep the same 401K,” throughout the numerous moves.

Hillary Clinton Telefilm in Development: “Hillary’s Choice,” a two-hour telefilm based on the book by author Gail Sheehy, is in fast-track development at A&E Network.

The announcement was made today by Robert DeBitetto, the network’s senior VP of programming, and comes at the height of the media feeding frenzy attending the release of Sen. Clinton’s own biography, “Living History.”

The movie is being developed jointly by A&E Television Networks, Carlton America, the U.S.-based television arm of Carlton International Media Group, and United Kingdom-based JAM Pictures. Production will begin late this year and the movie is expected to air in 2004.

NBC Wins Wednesday: “Fame” and “Law & Order” gave NBC a nightly win in adults 18 to 49 last night. “Fame” scored a 3.2 rating/11 share in adults 18 to 49, finishing second to Fox’s reruns of “That ’70s Show,” according to Nielsen Media Research fast affiliate data. While that was an improvement over year-ago time period performance, “Fame” dropped from the 4.5 rating in adults 18 to 49 that it pulled in its two-hour premiere last week. But it also delivered an average of 9.9 million total viewers, off only slightly from the 10.6 million viewers who watched its debut last week. “Law & Order” reruns at 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. won their time slots in adults 18 to 49.

For the night, NBC won in adults 18 to 49 with a 3.8/12, followed by Fox (3.5/11), ABC (3.4/10) and CBS (2.2/7). In total viewers, NBC won the night with 11.5 million, followed by CBS (9.2 million), ABC (8.1 million) and Fox (7.5 million).

Judd to Leave ABC News: Highly regarded Washington-based ABC News correspondent Jackie Judd is leaving the network for which she has done award-winning work for 16 years to become a senior visiting fellow at the Kaiser Family Foundation. Her focus will be on crafting a vehicle for educating journalists worldwide about public health issues for the Kaiser Foundation, which reportedly approached her and invited her to design her dream job.

ABC News President David Westin, who insiders say made a serious effort to keep Ms. Judd at the network, said in his internal announcement of her departure that she “has redefined what it means to be a great beat reporter.” Her assignments at ABC included Capitol Hill and the Supreme Court, and she had a particular interest in reporting on health care and the pharmaceutical industry. “As wonderful as this is for Jackie and the Kaiser Foundation, it is a real loss for all of us at ABC News,” Mr. Westin said.