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MGM TV ups Cohen to senior veep

Hank Cohen has been promoted to senior VP, television development, at MGM TV, which will focus on firstrun syndication and other non-network distribution in the wake of a decision last spring to bail out of network TV production.

The promotion for Cohen had been expected since the official exit of MGM Worldwide TV Group chairman David Gerber (Daily Variety, Nov. 2).

Cohen will now work with domestic syndication president Sid Cohen and international distribution chief Gary Marenzi in targeting projects to specific markets.

Ron Levinson also will work with Cohen as veepee of development and supervise current programs, including the one continuing MGM network series, CBS’ “In the Heat of the Night.” Nearly all other existing staff in TV production have been laid off gradually since last June.

In a statement, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. senior exec veep Kenneth Meyer cited current TV economics in saying that MGM would focus on “niche program development” as opposed to network production, seeking to avoid the production deficits associated with that arena.

MGM said it will focus on reality shows while seeking to capitalize on existing MGM assets. Projects in development include a comedy reality show with producer Neal Israel, a new animated “Pink Panther” series, and a re-styled version of the series “Fame.”

Before joining MGM in 1991 as vice president of comedy development, Cohen held a similar position at Lorimar TV, where he was also involved in developing reality series. Before that, he served as director of variety and reality programs at ABC Entertainment.

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