Frank folds C3, mulls next step

Crestani's future plans unknown

After getting a divorce from Comcast late last year, Rich Frank is now closing the C3 chapter of his career.

C3’s remaining operations will be folded into Frank’s next endeavor, which is still a work in progress. A number of C3’s dozen-odd staffers have ankled the Beverly Hills-based company or are in the process of moving on.

Bought out Comcast

Frank, the former top Disney TV exec and immediate past president of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, formed C3 in 1995 as the production and programming development arm of Philadelphia-based cable giant Comcast Corp. Frank acquired most of Comcast’s stake in C3 (which stood for Comcast Content and Communication) last December.

“The fact of the matter is we are basically closing this form of the company down,” Frank told Daily Variety Monday. “I plan on starting up something different soon. A number of (ex-C3 staffers) are going their own way, and some of them may come back to work for me later.”

Crestani in limbo

Still unknown are the future plans of Bob Crestani, the former William Morris Agency TV chief who was named prexy of C3 at its inception. Crestani is said to have been courted in recent weeks for a high-profile post at one of the Big Three webs, but sources close to the exec say his interests are leaning more toward the cable and new media arena. Crestani could not be reached for comment Monday.

Speaking only for himself, Frank said that his plans as far as Crestani was concerned have not changed since he first announced his intention to acquire C3 from Comcast last December.

“What we’ve said from the beginning is that if it makes sense for us to work together, we will,” said Frank. “If it doesn’t, we’ll go our own ways.”

E! purchase

The highlight of C3’s 2-1/2-year history was the $320 million buyout of cabler E! Entertainment Television that Frank spear-headed as a partnership between Comcast and Disney. C3 also produced this season’s short-lived syndie daytime strip “Home Team With Terry Bradshaw.”

Frank will move C3’s remaining development projects and commitments from Fox, NBC and Disney/ABC to his next venture. Eve Szurley, VP of creative affairs for C3, will stay on with Frank for the time being to oversee those projects, which include a talkshow with married pundits Mary Matalin and James Carville; “Filthy Liars,” a gameshow in development with cabler FX; and “King of New York,” a sitcom pilot that’s in contention for Fox’s fall sked.

Room for speculation

Speculation on Frank’s future has run the gamut from his returning to the Disney fold to taking a top management post with Barry Diller’s new USA Networks Inc. to launching yet another entrepreneurial venture in the C3 vein.

Frank only would say Monday that he’s not seriously weighing any job offers at the moment, nor has he decided what his next area of focus will be. To Frank, the situation is similar to the position he was in after leaving Disney in mid-1994, before he settled on starting C3 in September ’95.

“The beauty for me is that I don’t have to make my decisions on any timetable,” said Frank. “All I know is that the last time I tried not to do too much of anything, I got bored very quickly.”

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