Polygram TV unit stays at U

Prexy Sanitsky resigns

It’s official: Polygram’s domestic TV operation is staying put at Universal, the studio confirmed Thursday (Daily Variety , March 25).

And now that the division’s fate is settled, Polygram TV prexy Bob Sanitsky has opted to resign his post after spending the past two years building a slate of syndie series, telefilms and network development projects.

Polygram TV defied the odds against startup TV outfits with the fall launch of two successful syndie weekly series, “The Crow: Stairway to Heaven” and the concert showcase “Motown Live,” both of which are returning for a second season.

Another actioner skein, “Total Recall 2070,” bowed last month on Showtime, and Monday-Friday reality strip “Blind Date” is poised to bow in syndication this fall.

“I’m proud of what we accomplished in a difficult environment. We successfully launched four series in less than two years,” said Sanitsky, who was a top TV agent at International Creative Management before he was recruited to launch Polygram’s TV division in early 1997. “I’ve chosen to move on because the atmosphere (at U) is different than the one I originally came to.”

U will integrate Polygram TV into its Universal Television & Networks Group, which encompasses the studio’s international TV operations, as U last year sold its domestic TV assets to Barry Diller’s USA Networks.

U’s parent, Seagram Co., acquired Polygram’s movie and TV operations last year as part of its $10 billion-plus acquisition of the music giant. Seagram has since sold off Polygram’s film assets to USA Networks and MGM, while Polygram’s sizable TV library (itself the product of acquisitions prior to the Seagram buyout) is to be acquired by the U.K.’s Carlton Communications.

U did have talks with USA Networks about selling the remainder of Polygram TV, but the studio ultimately opted to re-establish a small presence in the domestic TV biz.

“When all was said and done, we felt the best way to enhance the value of these assets was to integrate them with our own,” said Blair Westlake, chairman of Universal TV & Networks Group. Westlake noted that the “Motown Live” showcase, “The Crow” and “Total Recall 2070” actioners have strong international appeal.

U plans to keep Polygram TV’s syndie sales force intact, but there’s no word yet about the rest of the division’s 50 staffers.

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