Grayson in, Tannehill out at MTM

In a pre-NATPE shake-up, MTM TV Distribution president Kevin Tannehill has been replaced by Marc Grayson as head of the company’s syndication wing.

No reason was given for theabrupt exit of Tannehill, who took the prexy post in November 1989. A company spokesman and other insiders insisted the switch was unrelated to the expected completion in the next few weeks of International Family Entertainment’s takeover of MTM.

The distrib released a terse statement yesterday noting that Grayson, who joined the company in 1991, had been upped to senior VP of domestic sales for MTM. He will assume immediate responsibility for the overall supervision of the domestic TV distribution unit.

Grayson, who was concurrently appointed to the MTM executive management committee, will report directly to MTM Entertainment prez Robert Klosterman. Klosterman was unavailable for comment.

He previously served as both veepee and Western regional sales manager at MTM.

Before joining the company, he spent 14 years at MCA TV, the last two as senior VP of marketing.

The announcement failed to acknowledge Tannehill, who during his reign took the company into the firstrun syndie arena with the defunct “Graham Kerr” cooking show, “WKRP in Cincinnati” and the proposed live-action fall kids strip “Xuxa” as MTM-parent TVS battled its financial problems.

The company is also rumored to be close to announcing an “environmentally friendly” kids strip, but MTM reps did not comment on pending projects.

On the off-net side, Tannehill engineered the marketing campaign for “Evening Shade” and “Rescue 911.”

Although competitors were quick to trash MTM and its product, Grayson said sales campaigns for the company’s existing projects are “going extremely well.”

The company “is in the process of negotiating a number of deals” for “Evening Shade,” which is being cleared on a cash-plus-barter basis for fall ’94, and “Xuxa,” according to Grayson.

Competitors questioned whether MTM would be able to break even on its heavy financial investment in “WKRP,” but a spokesman said that information would be impossible for an outsider to know.

They also trashed “Xuxa,” which features the reigning queen of Latin American TV. The kids show cleared half the metered markets after its first month in syndication, according to MTM.

One rival syndicator asserted that “every studio in town passed” on Xuxa, but another source claimed that there was interest from MCA, Fox and Warner Bros.

There was a difference of opinion on “Rescue 911,” with one camp calling it MTM’s only certified success and another saying the distrib is selling the cash show at “bargain basement prices.” Grayson said the company has received “strong prices” for the series.

Another distributor asked how a company “that is so heavily leveraged can absorb the kind of projects that have no immediate return? I don’t think the Brits (TVS) were too happy to see (all those) trade ads, an overworked sales staff and no revenue.”

“I want to know what these people know about the future of the company,” an MTM spokesman responded. “They’re really just speculating.”

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