As many as 50 staffers at King World Prods. and Eyemark Entertainment are expected to be handed pinkslips this week as CBS Television on Wednesday announced a new organizational structure merging the two units.
Under the combination, the assets of King World, Eyemark Entertainment and CBS Broadcast International have been placed under the established name of CBS Enterprises.
At least 28 employees will be transferred to other corporate divisions such as the CBS network or Infinity Broadcasting.
“(The layoffs) will be moderate, but there will be some,” said CBS Television president and CEO Leslie Moonves, who will oversee all CBS Enterprises operations. “There is already a group of people being shifted to other parts of the company. Our HR people are desperately trying to place everybody wherever they can.”
King World will operate as the company’s domestic syndication arm and CBS Broadcast International as the international distribution unit.
But CBS Enterprises will maintain two barter sales units: Eyemark Media Sales and King World Media Sales.
As expected, Roger King has been appointed chairman and CEO of the merged company, while former Eyemark prexy Ed Wilson will serve as president and chief operating officer.
“We will be keeping a hefty staff on board,” King said. “As with any merger of this magnitude, there will be some cost-saving measures taken, but all in all, the whole business has been very classy and it’s business as usual for King World.”
Steve LoCascio will serve as senior veep and chief financial officer. Michael King, who is vice chairman and co-CEO, King World, will serve as a consultant for CBS Enterprises.
Among those departing are Don Prijatel, president of advertising and promotion at King World. Eyemark’s Barry Wallach, executive VP of syndication, had previously departed the company.
Given King World’s success with firstrun series and Eyemark’s experience with off-net product, Moonves said the pieces fit relatively easily.
“The transition meetings were unbelievably smooth,” he said. “There were complementary situations in selling different products and rarely did these guys bump heads. ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ is not competing with ‘Oprah.’ ”
The new organization will be responsible for all domestic syndication, international distribution and production, media sales and video services. King will oversee all CBS Enterprises operations and domestic sales, and will report to Moonves.
Wilson will manage programming, creative services, international distribution, two media sales units and video services, reporting to King.
“Clearly Roger has created a dynasty with King World,” Moonves said. “Sitting these two (King and Wilson) in place was rather easy.”
All program development and production will be managed by longtime development whiz Andy Friendly, who has been named president, programming and production.
Eyemark senior vice presidents Robb Dalton and Jim Dauphinee will report to Friendly.
Meanwhile, Stuart Stringfellow has been named president, domestic sales, King World Prods.
CBS Broadcast International will continue to be overseen by Armando Nunez Jr. King World International Prods. will become a part of the unit, and Fred Cohen will report to Nunez.
“By the personnel situations, it was fairly obvious who should fall under who,” Moonves said. “Certain departments remain under King World people and certain departments remain under Eyemark people.”
The slate for King World Prods. will continue to feature such series as long-running staples “Wheel of Fortune,” “Jeopardy!” and “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”
Now added to its arsenal will be talkshow “The Dr. Joy Browne Show,” action hour “Pensacola: Wings of Gold,” “The Howard Stern Radio Show” and lifestyle series “Martha Stewart Living.” Its new firstrun series for fall are the court strip “Curtis Court,” the weekend latenight series “The Cindy Margolis Show” and the financial news magazine “CBS MarketWatch Weekend.”
One key bonus to the library will be off-net runs of the highly anticipated “Everybody Loves Raymond,” “Early Edition,” “Caroline in the City,” “Kids Say the Darndest Things” and “Touched By An Angel.” In addition, the company distributes a library of feature films, television films and classic series.
“I anticipate heavy business at the market next week,” said King of NATPE. “With a bigger library than ever, we will be going over these programs one at a time and make sure that every one of them gets taken care of.”
CBS Corp. merged with King World on Nov. 15, 1999.