CBS, Paramount Divisions Merge

Sep 12, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Viacom co-President and co-Chief Operating Officer and CBS Chairman Leslie Moonves announced last week that Viacom is merging its two major television production entities-CBS Productions and Paramount Network Television-and promoting CBS Entertainment President Nancy Tellem to the newly created post of president, CBS Paramount Network Television Entertainment Group.

The moves follow months of industry speculation since Mr. Moonves was named to his current position June 1. Insiders expected Mr. Moonves to merge the production entities and promote his most trusted staff to more senior positions.

The merger does not affect Spelling Television, which will remain an independent production entity. The company will report directly to Mr. Moonves.

“Aaron Spelling is an icon in this business,” Mr. Moonves told TelevisionWeek. “It’s important to deal directly with them. His production company is a gem, a boutique, if you will, and it needs to get special treatment.”

The changes also do not alter the currently separate syndication operations of King World and Paramount Domestic Television, which will continue to be run by Roger King and Joel Berman, respectively. The syndication operations also will report directly to Mr. Moonves.

“Each has four humongous hits,” Mr. Moonves said. “It is far better to keep them autonomous. I’d rather have a salesman go in the door with four big hits than eight. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.”

Garry Hart, the current president of Paramount Television Productions, is stepping down to become an independent producer at Paramount Network Television. David Stapf, formerly head of current programming for CBS Entertainment, has been named president of the new Paramount Network Television and will report to Ms. Tellem.

Ms. Tellem will oversee operations at CBS Entertainment and Paramount Network Television, including development, programming, production and legal and business affairs. She will continue to report to Mr. Moonves.

Nina Tassler, who currently heads CBS’s drama development department, succeeds Ms. Tellem as president of CBS Entertainment. Ms. Tassler was instrumental in the development of such CBS series as the “CSI” franchise, “Without a Trace,” “Judging Amy,” “Cold Case” “NCIS” and “Joan of Arcadia.”

Maria Crenna, formerly executive VP of CBS Productions, has been promoted to the position of executive VP of Paramount Network Television, where she will report to Mr. Stapf.

In addition, Kelly Kahl has been named senior executive VP of programming operations, and will oversee the coordination of all CBS programming. He will continue to have responsibility for program planning and scheduling of both the CBS and UPN Television Networks while taking on the added responsibilities of supervising coordination between CBS’s and UPN’s programming divisions and the networks’ respective operations in sales, marketing, affiliate relations and research and with the Viacom Television Stations Group.

Ms. Tellem, Ms. Tassler, Mr. Stapf, Ms. Crenna and Mr. Kahl have a long track record with Mr. Moonves, since they all eventually moved over to CBS from Warner Bros. Television, which Mr. Moonves used to run.

Separately, Mr. Moonves announced last week that Jonathan Anschell has been named executive VP and general counsel, CBS Television. Mr. Anschell, a veteran media and entertainment attorney, will succeed Susan Holliday, who is retiring. He will report directly to Mr. Moonves.

In this role, Mr. Anschell will serve as CBS’s chief legal officer and will be involved in all facets of broadcasting, network and syndication activities, with principal offices in Los Angeles.