Ed Hersh joins Court TV
This year, Ed Hersh swapped arts and entertainment for crime and justice. The former VP of documentary programming for A&E joined U.S. cablecaster Court TV as VP of documentaries and specials in January, and was promoted to senior VP in November. By all appearances, the move was for the best. At A&E, the winds seem to be shifting in favor of fiction – with an emphasis on made-for-TV movies and series – while Court TV looks to be building up its factual content. Projects Hersh has overseen this year include The System, I Detective and Punishment: Cruel and Unusual.
John McVay tops pact
In mid-February, John McVay took up a new post in London as chief executive of the U.K.’s Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television (PACT). Founded in 1991, the organization now represents more than 1,000 independent production companies, with a collective turnover exceeding £1.5 million. Previously, McVay was director of the Research Centre for Television and Interactivity in Glasgow. Of course, neither job is remotely close to his childhood dream of being a forester or his brief stint in a punk band, though if next year he dyes his hair blue and carries an axe, we’ll know why.
New blood at the CNC
David Kessler took the reins of France’s Centre National de la Cinématographie (CNC) – a central body that redistributes state funds to independent producers – in March. It makes him one of the most loved and most despised men within the French filmmaking community. Kessler replaced Jean-Pierre Hoss, who held the post for less than two years from July 1999. Before joining the CNC, Kessler was culture and media advisor to the prime minister’s office.
Discovery ends year Quattrone-less
Discovery Communications went from an executive roster stacked with two talented Quattrones to one in which there are none. Mike Quattrone left his post as executive vp and general manager of the U.S. Discovery Channel in March, after 10 years of working his way up the ranks. Two and half months later, his wife Kathy Quattrone resigned as executive VP and GM of Discovery Health, a position she held since spring 1999. The official reason for their departure was a desire to pursue a quiet life on the eastern shore. Unofficially, some speculate the Quattrones were unhappy with the upper management shuffle at DCI. RealScreen predicts that we haven’t seen the last of the Quattrones.
Michael Cascio jumps to Animal Planet
Over the past two years, Michael Cascio has worked his way around the checkerboard of U.S. cable, collecting job titles like game pieces. In 1999, after 10 years at A&E, he gave up his position as senior VP of programming to accept a post at NBC as VP of cable programming development. Cascio stayed with the peacock network only 18 months before moving again. In May, he joined Animal Planet as executive VP and GM. Where and when Cascio will move next is anyone’s guess, but he’s sure to stay in the game.
From Soros to Sundance
Diane Weyermann was the face of the Soros Documentary Fund since its inception in 1996. As director of the New York-based non-profit body, which provides US$1.5 million annually to non-fiction films worldwide, she attended events around the globe. In May, Weyermann accepted a new post as director of international programs at the Sundance Institute, but continued to stay involved with the fund. Now, it’s following her to Sundance. The Open Society Institute, which originally administered the doc fund, has agreed to hand the reins to Weyermann’s department at the Sundance Institute. The Sundance doc fund is expected to begin taking applications by mid-December.
Changing of the guard at the BBC
When Sir Christopher Bland announced his decision to resign as chairman of the BBC, the British media began placing bets on his replacement. Rumored frontrunners were David Dimbleby, a veteran journalist, and Michael Grade, head of Pinewood Studios and a former C4 exec. Ultimately, however, Bland’s successor was perhaps the most obvious choice – Gavyn Davies, Bland’s vice-chairman. Davies, who took his post at the Beeb in October, earned the position following review by an independent panel under the open process of Nolan rules. Bland now heads up British Telecom.
The Beeb’s head of docs walks
After 30 years with the BBC, Jeremy Gibson called it quits in October. Though he left by choice, Gibson was a victim of restructuring. The previous year, the pubcaster had bumped him up from his post as head of BBC Bristol’s documentaries unit to controller of documentaries and investigations in London. Gibson covered non-fiction programming classified as ‘general’ within a centralized factual department. But, when the bbc decided to streamline further, merging the general division with leisure and entertainment, he opted out.
Chris Haws departs Discovery International
Chris Haws started out as an announcer for bbc Radio. Later, he developed a taste for TV and founded an indie prodco, InCA. He gave that up to join Discovery Europe in 1995, progressing to the position of senior VP and executive producer for Discovery Networks International. Now, Haws has taken leave of the Discovery family to face new challenges at the World Bank. In his new post, which began in November, Haws is focusing on the creative and audio-visual industries in developing countries.
Michael Jackson crosses the pond
After four and a half years as chief executive of the U.K.’s Channel 4, Michael Jackson decided he had had enough of British broadcasting. In November, he grabbed the chance to cross the Atlantic after Barry Diller, chairman and ceo of USA Networks, asked him to head up USA Entertainment. While Jackson’s old job offered substantial range, his new post looks to be equally challenging. He currently oversees Studios USA, USA Films and USA Cable, which includes new nets Trio, Crime and Newsworld International.