Ten jobs sliced at TPE as ‘Star Search’ fades

Television Program Enterprises has eliminated 10 positions, including exec VP of sales Alan Bennett, after the syndication company pulled the plug on the half-hour strip version of “Star Search” last week (Daily Variety, Nov. 2).

TPE chairman Al Masini confirmed the cuts yesterday, saying the Cox-owned company had beefed up staff to support the show.

Two of the positions already had been eliminated and won’t be filled. The other staffers who were let go were mostly in the support areas.

As for Masini, who is credited with playing a large part in the creation of “Entertainment Tonight,” he has no immediate plans to step down from running the station rep firm Telerep and TPE.

The 62-year-old exec, who is two years into a five-year deal, has an option in his contract at the end of next year. He acknowledged that he plans to leave in the next year or two and may be cutting back his duties “at some point,” but emphasized that nothing is imminent.

The distrib is offering off-syndie episodes of “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous” as a strip for next season and is looking at other projects, he said.

TPE opted to cancel production on the “Star Search” strip after it was downgraded in Los Angeles (Daily Variety, Nov. 2), Portland, Ore., and New York last week.

Masini said he chose “Star Search” as a strip because the production team and facilities were already in place, which reduced the risk of going to five-days-a-week. The successful hour weekend version will continue in production.

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