People on the Move

AAC cuts more than 30 jobs; coming and going at Film Australia; reading the ratings at Discovery
March 20, 2003

Toronto, Canada-based Alliance Atlantis Communications is cutting 33 full-time jobs from its Entertainment Group as part of the group’s plan to increase profits by reducing overall production. The cuts, which will take place by March 31, will affect staff in Toronto, Los Angeles, U.S., and Halifax, Canada. Peter Sussman, the L.A.-based CEO of the Entertainment Group, will head north and continue to carry out his duties from Toronto.

Film Australia announced the appointment of Penny Robins as executive producer, Sydney office. Robins will replace Anna Grieve, who will move over to Film Australia’s Melbourne office. Franco di Chiera, FA’s current executive producer in Melbourne, is leaving the company in April.

Discovery Networks, U.S. announced the appointment of Daniel Fischer as executive VP, research and planning. Fischer has been with Discovery for 16 years, most recently as executive VP of strategic planning for Discovery Communications. Fischer’s main responsibilities will be overseeing audience growth research, managing Nielsen ratings estimates and program testing.

Barry Diller has resigned from his ‘temporary assignment’ as CEO of Vivendi Universal Entertainment. Diller had been with Vivendi since the company acquired his USA Networks in December 2001. He will be replaced by Jean-René Fourtou, chairman and chief executive officer of Vivendi Universal.

European broadcaster RTL Group has revamped its management structure following Gerhard Zeiler’s appointment as CEO of RTL Group (See RealScreen Plus March 7, 2003). The new executive committee will consist of Zeiler; Thomas Rabe, chief financial officer; Thomas Hesse, chief strategy officer; and Tony Cohen, CEO of FremantleMedia. The committee will invite Nicolas de Tavernost, CEO of France’s M6, to participate and act as a consultant on issues related to French-speaking territories and Spain. Former chief strategy officer Bruno Chauvat will leave the company.

There were a number of job changes over at Jericho, U.S.-based IFC Entertainment, a division of the Independent Film Channel. Svetla Sands has been promoted to director of film operations and will be primarily responsible for development and management of theatrical release budgets and operating budgets for IFC Entertainment. Sands was most recently the manager of booking, sales and operations. Greg Forston, the new VP of sales and distribution, will oversee the sales of IFC Films into theaters across the U.S. Forston was formerly the VP of sales for IFC. Judy Silverman has been promoted to VP of film business operations. She was formerly the director of finance for Bravo/IFC. And finally, Caroline Bock has been named SVP of marketing for IFC Companies and will be responsible for brand strategy and integration for IFC Television and IFC Films.

Zone Vision, producer and distributor of thematic channels, has appointed Alan Hodges to the newly created position of director of affiliate relations for the Asia-Pacific region, effective immediately. Hodges will head up Zone Vision’s new Singapore office. He was previously VP and director, affiliate sales and network development, for CNBC Asia Pacific.

Susan Murrow has been promoted to the position of VP, talent management for Discovery Networks, U.S. Her responsibilities will include developing and managing ‘talent relations, operational systems and procedures.’ Murrow was previously director, talent management and publicity.

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.