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Stoddard to ankle as ABCP prez

Brandon Stoddard has resigned from his position as president of ABC Prods, and will leave the in-house production division in June, ending a six-year tenure in that post.

The former ABC Entertainment president and 25-year network veteran said he hasn’t ruled out staying in some capacity at Capital Cities/ABC but is exploring other options as well. As for the network, ABC TV Network Group prexy David Westin said he remains committed to ABCP and will consider candidates to replace Stoddard from both inside and outside the network.

Both Westin and Stoddard dismissed industry speculation that ABCP’s importance has been diminished by CapCities/ABC’s production partnerships with the likes of DreamWorks and Brillstein-Grey Entertainment.

Westin said that type of alternative production arrangement represents a desire to diversify, not dissatisfaction with ABCP, and that it makes sense to continue operating a division where the network owns 100% of the product generated.

ABC Prods, has failed to generate any major series hits, though Stoddard did point to modest successes such as “The Commish” and “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” Other programs on the current ABCP slate include “Me and the Boys” and “My So-Called Life,” both marginal candidates to return next season.

Stoddard, 57, took the reins at ABC Prods, in March 1989, after a four-year stint heading ABC Entertainment. In the last six years he has helped put the production unit on the map, aggressively seeking and signing overall deals with high-profile producing talent and dramatically increasing output.

Chiefly, Stoddard opened the division up with the unprecedented sale of projects to other networks, including the Fox Broadcasting series “Class of ’96” and recent CBS sitcom “The Boys Are Back.” Of ABC’s eight pilot contenders for fall, two are for Fox, with another at CBS.

“A lot of this (decision to leave) has been about the building of a company,” Stoddard said, adding that ABCP is now a viable entity “recognized at every network.”

A commitment to producing for various outlets, he added, has made ABC’s other production ventures more attractive. “ABC is a very successful network,” Stoddard said. “If all three of these companies were going to rely on ABC alone, it would be a problem.”

While Westin said he’d be “less than candid” to say ABC Prods, had enjoyed the sort of success CapCities eventually hopes to achieve, he credited Stoddard with building the division and doing “an extraordinary job” in forging relationships with talent.

Stoddard will continue in his post through the current development season.

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