People on the Move

DNI exec takes over Travel Channel; Nat Geo Society appoints new VP of development; Endemol gets serious about copycats
May 29, 2003

Silver Spring, U.S.-based Discovery Networks has filled the void at the top of the Travel Channel. Rick Rodriguez has been appointed executive vice president and general manager of the Travel Channel, replacing Steve Cheskin, who resigned in early May (see RealScreen Plus, May 8, 2003). Rodriguez has been with Discovery for nine years and was most recently executive VP of content, Discovery Networks International. His successor at DNI has not been named.

The Washington, D.C., U.S.-based National Geographic Society has appointed Jacqueline M. Hollister to the post of vice president for development, effective in June. Hollister is presently VP of the corporation of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachussetts.

PBS’s Washington, D.C., U.S., station, WETA, announced the appointment of four new project executives to its production group. John Potthast (the only full-time hire; the remaining three will work on contract), Leo Eaton, Jennifer Lawson and Mathew Tombers will work with independent producers to develop projects for national distribution to PBS stations.

Tired of seeing variations of its shows popping up on small screens everywhere, Big Brother-format creator Endemol has hired Wim Hoen as its intellectual property (IP) rights manager. According to the Hilversum, Netherlands-based company’s prepared statement, Hoen ‘will initiate a number of measures designed to fight format theft’ and states outright that ‘Hoen’s full-time priority is to instigate legal proceedings against anyone who infringes any of Endemol’s IP anywhere in the world.’

Endemol also announced the resignation of Werner Schwaderlapp, MD of Endemol Deutschland Holding, which handles Endemol’s business development in Germany. Schwaderlapp is leaving on June 1 to start a consulting business. He joined the company in 1998 and worked in several different capacities, most recently as managing director.

Elizabeth McDonald is resigning as president and CEO of the Ottawa-based Canadian Film and Television Production Association after eight years, effective August 31, 2003. The non-profit trade association will begin its search for a replacement after the Banff Television Festival in June.

Burbank, U.S.-based TV network NBC announced the promotion of Craig Plestis to the post of VP, alternative programs for NBC Entertainment. Plestis will be responsible for the development of ‘alternative series programs’ (read: reality shows). He is currently overseeing the reality series For Love or Money, The Apprentice (produced by Survivor U.S. producer Mark Burnett and hosted by billionaire Donald Trump) and Who Wants to Marry My Dad?

New York, U.S.-based MTV Networks unveiled a new group structure for the company that sees the expansion of duties for Judy McGrath and Herb Scannell, who will both take on the title of MTV Networks group president. McGrath, currently president of MTV Networks Music Group, will be responsible for cable channels MTV, MTV2, VH1, CMT and Comedy Central, while Scannell, currently president of Nickelodeon, TV Land and TNN, will now oversee for Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite, TV Land, Noggin and TNN (which will soon be known as SPIKE TV).

London, U.K.-based BBC Vecta, the Beeb’s new commercial venture (see RealScreen Plus, May 15, 2003), announced the appointments of board director Marcel Puyk to the position of finance director of investment and asset management; Ian Mecklenburgh as director of technology strategy; and Kian Kormi as director of strategic marketing.

The Banff Television Foundation has appointed Patricia Douey to the post of acting VP of development, filling in for Lizbeth Smeaton, who will be on maternity leave. The appointment takes effect on September 1, 2003. Douey’s past experience includes five years as SVP and GM at Flextech Television in London, U.K.

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.