Indie TV producer Meryl C. Marshall has become the first woman in a decade to be elected president of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.
Marshall ran against longtime NBC executive John Agoglia in the contest to succeed outgoing ATAS president Richard Frank, who was ineligible to run again after serving two successive terms. The 63 voting members of the academy’s board of directors and its executive committee cast their ballots for ATAS’ new slate of officers Tuesday night.
Marshall, president of Two Oceans Entertainment Group, is the third woman to head the academy in its 50-year history, following a trail blazed by actresses Gail Patrick Jackson (1960-62) and Diana Muldaur (1983-85).
Marshall has been an active member of the academy for more than 15 years, having served three terms as ATAS’ treasurer. Marshall and the rest of the new officers, all elected to two-year terms, formally assume their new posts Oct. 8.
For Marshall, the ATAS prexy post offers a great platform for “educating” the public about the wonders of a medium that has been roundly criticized in recent years by lawmakers and advocacy groups, among others.
“There are a lot of unsung heroes in our business,” said Marshall. “I don’t think the industry has done a good enough job of enlightening the public to the wonders of what we do — how a one-line concept ends up as a fully developed drama series that goes on to captivate audiences for years.”
The dawn of the digital TV era also gives ATAS the opportunity to become an information clearinghouse for the revolutionary changes in store for the industry, Marshall said.
“I hope that the academy can become something like a think tank on digital TV,” she said. “We have so many technical people and artists involved in ATAS. It’s an environment that makes us uniquely positioned to participate in the education of (the industry) and the public on these issues.”
Marshall is a 19-year industry veteran who worked as a criminal defense attorney before starting her TV career as senior counsel for NBC. She held several executive posts with the Peacock web before moving on to Group W Prods. as vice president of development and production. She later served as senior VP of Futurimages , a joint venture of Westinghouse Broadcasting and France’s Teleimages.
As an indie producer, Marshall’s credits under her Two Oceans banner include the HBO primetime animated series “Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child.” She recently wrapped production on the TV movie “When Danger Follows You Home,” set to air Dec. 3 on cabler USA Network, while production has just begun on another made-for psycho-thriller, “When the Lights Go Out.”
In other ATAS election results, “The Young and the Restless” producer Nancy Bradley Wiard was elected vice president; and producer George Sunga, a longtime ATAS member, was tapped as second vice president.
The office of ATAS secretary went to Sheila Manning, prexy of Sheila Manning Casting; Lee Miller Prods. head Lee Miller got the nod as treasurer; and Nelson Davis, president of Nelson Davis Prods., was voted vice president for the Los Angeles area.