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Alphabet eyes Pula for promo position

NEW YORK — ABC, unhappy with its on-air promo slate, has interviewed potential hires including former Warner Bros. marketing prexy Chris Pula.

The Alphabet web, down 8% in the ratings this season vs. a dismal 1996-97 performance, believes that despite the low circulation, its on-air tune-in spots could be doing a better job generating numbers for its series.

Network sources said execs are also unhappy with budget overruns and management of the department, now headed by senior VP of advertising and promotion Jim Vescera.

Although it’s typical for networks and studios to blame marketing staffs when their product doesn’t perform, the web is in a tight spot, since impressive performances on Wednesday nights have failed to lead to similar gains elsewhere in the week.

ABC has a weak bench of backup series, leaving aggressive promotion as its only way to reverse the ratings slide.

Pula, who ankled WB earlier this month after barely a year there, had previously worked at New Line Cinema.

It’s unclear whether he’d accept a job at the senior VP level, but he’s already met with ABC prexy Robert Iger and entertainment president Jamie Tarses. He is also said to be mulling similar feelers from others, including Gramercy Pictures, sources said.

Neither Pula, Vescera nor ABC officials familiar with the talks could be reached for comment.

Vescera joined ABC last year from NBC, and is nearing the end of a two-year contract. Alan Cohen, who also joined ABC as exec VP of marketing from NBC, is expected to remain in that New York-based post, reporting to Iger, while the promo job reports to Tarses and entertainment chairman Stu Bloomberg.

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