Exex sign on as programming wing is split

UPN has divided its programming department into current and development teams and has hired new execs in both areas.

Most of the moves have been expected, including UPN’s hiring of Kelly Edwards to be vice president of comedy development and Maira Suro to be VP of drama development (Daily Variety, Nov. 3).

The netlet also has hired former Walt Disney TV research director Todd Lituchy as exec director of program scheduling, and James Bethea has been upped from director of programming to executive director of current programming.

Manager David Kass, who had been serving as UPN’s scheduling chief, has left his post, but will serve as a consultant until the end of the year.

Splitting the programming department will be more costly for UPN because more execs are being hired. But Tom Nunan, UPN’s executive VP of entertainment, said, “In the past, the community has been confused over what roles people played at UPN. This is an investment in the future, and it clarifies things to people in the community and at the company.”

Suro is joining UPN from Spelling Entertainment Group, where she worked as VP of series development since 1995. At UPN, she’ll be responsible for creating all new drama series. Prior to Spelling, she worked at CBS in drama development and at Columbia Pictures TV.

Edwards, who will head comedy development, comes to UPN from Fox, where she was executive director of comedy development. Edwards joined Fox in 1992 as an executive in charge of finding new talent.

Among those she brought to the network were Mystro Clark and Eddie Griffin. In 1994, she was named director of comedy development, and she was upped to exec director last year. During her tenure, she helped develop “Living Single,” “Two Guys, A Girl and a Pizza Place,” “Between Brothers” and “The Dave Chappelle Show.”

Bethea joined UPN in May; he’ll now oversee current programs, such as “In the House,” “Malcolm & Eddie” and “Moesha.” Before UPN, Bethea was president and executive producer of his own company called PsiClone Entertainment. Bethea also co-created, developed and produced Nickelodeon’s series “Nick Arcade.”

Lituchy worked with UPN’s new CEO Dean Valentine at Disney, and he starts at the netlet in his newly created scheduling position Dec. 1. Lituchy joined Disney in 1993 as a manager of research in 1993, and he was later upped to director, in charge of all research and programming strategies for Disney’s network series.

Prior to Disney, he worked for Norman Hecht Research, Lifetime TV and Viacom Entertainment.

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