Harbert expected to take senior post

Helene Michaels has been upped to prexy of network production in the first of several high-level exec shuffles expected at Columbia TriStar TV during the next few weeks.

Michaels will oversee comedy and drama development, current series programming and talent-related matters. Her responsibilities will be expanded once the other exec changes are settled.

The biggest shoe yet to drop is the expected appointment of former ABC Entertainment chief Ted Harbert to a senior post overseeing the division under Col TriStar TV Group prexy Jon Feltheimer and CTTG exec VP Andy Kaplan.

The trigger for the shakeup at Sony’s network TV arm was the departure of prexy Eric Tannenbaum, who was recruited to build a TV production arm for Artists Management Group (Daily Variety, March 24).

Tannenbaum’s position is expected to be confirmed today, and a number of Col TriStar’s production deals and some of its creative execs are expected to follow Tannenbaum to AMG.

In return, Col TriStar is understood to have negotiated some form of distribution arrangement, possibly a firstlook deal, with AMG’s fledgling TV wing but details could not be confirmed Wednesday.

Michaels was understood to have considered joining Tannenbaum at AMG until she was offered the prexy-level promotion. She has worked with topper Feltheimer for more than a decade, having been part of the creative team that moved with him from the now-defunct New World Television to what was then TriStar TV in late 1991.

“Helene has proven herself to be one of this industry’s most adept and talented executives,” Feltheimer said in announcing her prexy stripes. Michaels signed on as veep of primetime series for TriStar TV and was most recently upped to exec VP in 1996.

During her tenure, Michaels helped develop primetime hits including CBS’ “The Nanny,” NBC’s “Mad About You,” Fox’s “Party of Five” and the WB Network’s “Dawson’s Creek.” Col TriStar’s slate for the new season includes 14 new and returning skeins airing on CBS, Fox, the WB and UPN.

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