12 to Watch 2005: Terry Wood

Jan 10, 2005  •  Post A Comment

While many executives in the syndication business bemoan the current state of affairs–dwindling ratings, ballooning costs, a dearth of new ideas and personalities–Paramount Domestic Television’s Terry Wood isn’t concerned.

“The TV landscape is always changing,” she said. “We have to be strategic, and that’s part of the fun. “I don’t think, from where I sit, it’s a scary business right now. If we were afraid of rising costs and diminished ratings, we might have not launched ‘Dr. Phil.'”

That launch of one of syndication’s golden properties is just one of Ms. Wood’s accomplishments. A former audio engineer and local news producer in markets as varied as San Diego and New York, she worked for CBS network news and “60 Minutes” before developing programming for Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Productions. That led in 1998 to a job at Paramount, where she first oversaw “Entertainment Tonight” and “Hard Copy.”

Six years later she watches over all of Paramount’s syndicated content, including this year’s top-rated rookie strip, “The Insider.”

Leslie Moonves, Viacom co-president and co-chief operating officer, described Ms. Wood as “maybe the best creative executive in the syndication world. She has clearly been instrumental in Paramount’s great success in this part of their business.”

For the coming year, that could very well mean expanded responsibilities at Viacom, with more time spent on the currently delayed Steven Cojocaru project and any potential spinoffs from established performers like “ET” and “Dr. Phil.”

Unlike other areas of Viacom, such as network production, the syndication companies Paramount and King World Productions remain separate, which requires Ms. Wood to work with a host of producers, executives and syndicators. “Dr. Phil,” for instance, is produced by Paramount and distributed by King World.

Ms. Wood said her local market experience helps her understand what a station manager needs when it comes to syndicated product.

“I’ve been in their shoes,” she said. “I’ve produced many newscasts. I understand how important it is to get a syndicated personality to do promotion in a local market.”

Ms. Wood has also been at the forefront of developing off of existing properties, an increasingly important factor in terms of a new show’s success. She said it was no accident that “Dr. Phil” developed out of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and that “The Insider” came from within “ET.”

One of the greatest compliments Ms. Wood said she ever got came from Dennis Swanson, who runs the CBS stations. Mr. Swanson, who had purchased “Dr. Phil” in many markets, said he knew as soon as he turned on the show that it was ready for air.

Ms. Wood takes pride in that because, she said, “I think that’s what frustrates viewers–shows trying to find themselves after they have already launched.”

Just the Facts …

Title: Executive VP, programming, Paramount Domestic Television

How long in current position: Since November 2002

Year of birth: Not available

Place of birth: Stuttgart, Germany

What to watch for: A follow-up to the successes “Dr. Phil” and “The Insider,” and possibly additional responsibility within the Viacom corporation

Who knew? She had a weekend gig working the spotlight at Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry, where she once sang backup.