Realscreen Summit preview: Animal Planet’s Marjorie Kaplan

During the weeks leading up to this year's Realscreen Summit in Washington, DC, look for profiles on of some of the top speakers appearing this year. Today, we take a closer look at Animal Planet Media's president and GM Marjorie Kaplan.
January 22, 2009

Marjorie Kaplan joined Discovery Communications back in 1997 as SVP for children’s programming and products. At that time she oversaw the launch of the Discovery Kids channel and directed children’s programming for Discovery Networks, U.S. and the commercial free pre-school block READY, SET, LEARN for TLC, Discovery Kids Channel and

In 2007 Kaplan took the reins at Animal Planet Media where she oversees the channel and its HD service as well as the channel’s many multi-media endeavors, including, and In early 2008 she relaunched the channel, which included rebranding it with a new logo and brand campaign, and revamping programming to include more series and less one-offs, while also creating more programs highlighting the human relationship with animals. In the fall, Kaplan told realscreen that the channel was in the middle of both an evolution and a revolution. ‘We think there’s an opportunity to reinvent [the natural history genre] and that’s the revolution,’ said Kaplan. ‘The idea is to [ask] are there ways in which we can engage… can we create tune-in television in natural history where every week someone has to tune in at 10 o’clock on a Friday night to see the ongoing series that they’re hooked into?’ She successfully introduced series such as Whale Wars that did just that.

Prior to joining Discovery, Kaplan was executive VP for Lancit Media Entertainment, producer of Reading Rainbow. Kaplan was responsible for managing the relationship between DCI and Lancit when Discovery purchased a minority stake in Lancit in 1996.

At the Realscreen Summit on February 2, Kaplan will be part of the ‘Altering the Broadcast Mix’ panel featuring various cable execs discussing the blurred lines between cable and network programming in the U.S. and how producers are affected by this shift. Kaplan’s fellow panelists are Pierre Brogan, an agent for Creative Artists Agency; Neil A.Cohen, VP nonfiction & alternative programming for A&E Networks; Nancy Daniels, SVP production & development for TLC and Nancy Dubuc, EVP & GM for History. On February 3, she will be taking aprt in ‘Branded Reality’, a panel examining the evolution of brand integration within non-fiction content. Joining her will be Robert Friedman, president of media and entertainment for; BBDO Detroit creative directors Rick Dennis and Gary Pascoe, and Keith Hindle, EVP, Americas, FremantleMedia Enterprises. For more information and up-to-date speaker info, visit

About The Author
Andrew Tracy joined Realscreen as associate editor in 2021, following 17 years as managing editor of the award-winning international film magazine Cinema Scope. From 2010 to 2020 he also held the position of senior editor at the Toronto International Film Festival, where he oversaw the flagship publication for the organization’s year-round Cinematheque programming and edited its first original monograph in a decade, Steve Gravestock’s A History of Icelandic Film. He was a scriptwriter and consultant on the first season of the Vice TV series The Vice Guide to Film, and his writing and reporting have been featured in such outlets as Cinema Scope, Reverse Shot, Sight & Sound, Cineaste, Film Comment, MUBI Notebook, POV, and Montage.