NATPE Notes: O’Donnell Likely to Pursue Solo Gig by This Summer

Jan 22, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Rosie O’ Donnell will likely take her first steps toward returning to a solo talk show in the next four to six months. The contract that the co-host of ABC’s “The View” has with the network stipulates that she must first negotiate in good faith with a division of ABC parent The Walt Disney Co. if she wants to strike out on her own with a new show, according to people familiar with the contract. Those same sources said they are confident Ms. O’Donnell will trigger that clause by spring or summer. Attendees at the National Association of Television Program Executives conference last week in Las Vegas speculated that Ms. O’Donnell already had a handshake deal with Warner Bros. for a new show. A spokesman for Warner Bros. said there have been no negotiations. A spokesman for Endeavor, which represents Ms. O’Donnell, declined to comment. If Ms. O’Donnell leaves “The View” for a show of her own, she has many connections to Warner Bros., which produced and distributed her popular 1990s syndicated talk show, suggesting she ultimately might land there. Disney likely would fight to keep Ms. O’ Donnell should she decide to leave “The View,” according to ABC insiders. Since she joined the daytime roundtable, ratings for the 10-year-old show have grown by double-digit percentages and hit all-time highs. The ABC insiders also said the contract with Ms. O’ Donnell protects the network from losing her easily. An ABC spokesman declined to comment.

-Melissa Grego, Michele Greppi and Chris Pursell

Meidel to Head MyNetworkTV

News Corp.-owned MyNetworkTV tapped Greg Meidel to serve as president of the network, the company announced last week. The move comes as MyNet prepares to undergo a facelift in upcoming months that will likely shift the channel away from the current all-telenovela strategy toward a more diversified lineup. In fact, last week the network and corporate sibling FSN-formerly Fox Sports Net-signed a TV and new-media programming deal with the International Fight League, which features mixed martial arts fights, the companies announced. MyNetwork is planning to broadcast 22 two-hour IFL-produced programs beginning in mid-2007. Prior to Mr. Meidel’s hire, MyNetwork decisions came from a roundtable of executives that included Jack Abernethy, CEO of Fox Television Stations; Bob Cook, president and chief operating officer of Twentieth Television; Roger Ailes, president of Fox News Channel and chairman of the Fox Television Stations Group; and Peter Chernin, president and chief operating officer of News Corp. All four men are expected to remain involved. Mr. Meidel, who most recently served as the president of programming for CBS Paramount Domestic Television, will report to Mr. Abernethy.

-Chris Pursell and Jon Lafayette

CBS Rolls Out Merchandising, DVD Units

CBS is launching a licensing and merchandising unit called CBS Consumer Products and another unit, CBS Home Entertainment, to handle its DVD business. The new units will try to generate new revenue for CBS beyond advertising on its broadcast network, a business that is challenged by ad-skipping technology and new video alternatives, including digital video on the Internet. The Consumer Products business will be headed by Executive VP and General Manager Elizabeth Kalodner, who joined the company from Sesame Workshop, where she was executive VP and general manager. The unit will be part of the CBS Entertainment division, reporting to Nancy Tellem, president of the CBS Paramount Network Television Entertainment Group. Ken Ross has been named executive VP and general manager of CBS Home Entertainment. He has been with CBS for 15 years, managing licensing, merchandising and home video. CBS Home Entertainment plans to increase the number of DVD releases by 20 percent in 2007. The unit will be part of CBS Television Distribution Group, reporting to Bob Madden, president and chief operating officer. -Jon Lafayette

NATPE Nominates Coleman, Khanna as Co-Chairs

The National Association of Television Program Executives nominated Co-Chairman Emerson Coleman, VP of programming for Hearst-Argyle Television, for a second term in 2007. Roma Khanna, senior VP of content at CHUM Television, was nominated to replace current Co-Chair Stephen J. Davis, who has completed his term. Mr. Davis will serve on NATPE’s executive committee this year, the association said at its annual conference last week. The nominations were formally ratified by NATPE’s voting membership during NATPE’s annual business meeting Thursday.

-Chris Pursell

Fox Affiliates, Network Look to Future

Fox affiliates focused on the future at an annual meeting last week between the stations and the network that was one of the most peaceful on record. Both contingents are concentrating on how they can adapt to a changing business environment rather than their differences. The tenor of comments by attendees underscored the assessment by Fox Networks Group CEO Tony Vinciquerra that “We have a common business interest.” That feeling was fostered by the deal struck last year that cut in Fox-affiliated television stations on revenue from digital repurposing of network content. Outgoing affiliates board Chairman Brian Brady, president and CEO of Northwest Broadcasting, passed the baton during the meetings to Joe Denk, general manager of Second Generation-owned KFXA-TV in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, who presided over the full convention. Positive ratings for Fox’s first broadcast of the college football Bowl Championship Series contributed to the harmonious tone of the gathering.

-Michele Greppi