Van Petten to head Producers Guild

Goals: eliminate producer credit fraud, promote diversity

Vance Van Petten has been tapped exec director of the Producers Guild of America, filling the shoes of Charles FitzSimons, who is retiring from the post.

Recruited from Studios USA, where he worked as general counsel and exec VP of business and legal affairs, Van Petten will use his know-how to advance guild members’ interests.

“I have a knowledge of how the system works, so I can push to get fair treatment of our producers,” said Van Petten.

Top on Van Petten’s agenda is eliminating producer credit fraud in television and film because “too many producers are getting credit when they aren’t doing producers’ work.”

He also wants to stop the practice of studios re-selling TV series at a lowballed price to sister companies, shortchanging the projects’ producers. As an example, Van Petten pointed to David Duchovny currently suing Twentieth Century Fox Television for allegedly selling “The X-Files” to cabler FX at a below-market price.

And it’s full steam ahead for Van Petten’s plans: “The Producers Guild of America board of directors and members are excited about (Van Petten’s) intelligence and aggressive plan to forward the Guild’s activities and programs,” said Guild prexy Thom Mount, who added that departed FitzSimons will continue to work for the Guild as a consultant.

Other plans to be spearheaded by Van Petten include promoting diversity within Hollywood and expanding Guild members’ health and pension plans.

“I’m making a very big career change, but it’s intentional,” added Van Petten. “I’m looking forward to devoting all my energy to furthering producers’ goals.”

At Studios USA, Van Petten oversaw all legal issues for NBC series “Law and Order” and the syndie shows “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys,” “Xena: Warrior Princess” and “The Jerry Springer Show.”

He also closed the “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” re-purposing deal, allowing first-run episodes of the show to air on NBC and USA Networks within days of each other.

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