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Michael Cascio takes Animal Planet by the horns

At the turn of the millennium, Michael Cascio traded in his title as senior VP of programming at the A&E Network to join NBC News as VP of cable programming development. Now, only 18 months later, he's poised to take the...
June 1, 2001

At the turn of the millennium, Michael Cascio traded in his title as senior VP of programming at the A&E Network to join NBC News as VP of cable programming development. Now, only 18 months later, he’s poised to take the reigns at Animal Planet as executive VP and general manager – his third title in less than two years. Says Cascio, ‘With the background I have, the challenge with Animal Planet is to widen its appeal. That’s what attracted me – it takes a very imaginative, creative effort to attract a big audience.’ Cascio also saw the offer as a rare chance to lead an already successful enterprise. ‘You don’t get too many opportunities to run a fully distributed, major network,’ he notes. ‘It’s not like I have to build it from the ground up. They just want to move to the next level.’

Cascio plans to do that by embracing a variety of program genres. ‘I think the success of the channel has been in trying different forms,’ he explains. ‘I think we’ll continue to do that, but [we'll also] figure out which of those forms works best, and concentrate on those. There may be more than one, as there’s a broad palette of programming to choose from and I would be silly not to take advantage of that.’ Cascio hesitates to specify the types of programs AP will look into, but he notes the outlet’s signature programs are more entertainment/information programs than they are pure docs. In fact, The Crocodile Hunter is currently AP’s most popular series, attracting between one and two million viewers each week. Its host has even been parodied on Saturday Night Live, a sure sign the program has established itself in North American pop culture. Adds Cascio, ‘Animal Planet is primarily documentary programming, but there’s a lot of other reality type programs as well as fictional programs.’

About The Author
Daniele Alcinii is a news reporter at realscreen, the leading international publisher of non-fiction film and television industry news and content. He joins the rs team with journalism experience following a stint out west with Sun Media in Edmonton's Capital Region, and communications work in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter at @danielealcinii.

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