Program developers Wandell exits Webcaster
Morgan Wandell has ankled his post as veep of programming at Digital Entertainment Network, as the Gen-Y Netcaster has decided to move away from producing its own original programming for the Web.Although the departure is amicable, the exec said he was unhappy with the change in his position as a program developer. DEN is cutting costs and is creating fewer shows inhouse, opting instead to acquire content from outside creators such as comedy writer-director-producer Steve Oedekerk (“Ace Ventura: Pet Detective,” “Nothing to Lose”), and others. “There’s just less for me to do now,” Wandell told Daily Variety. “When I came in, they were producing original shows and now they’ve changed their business model.” DEN still has two to three variety and talkshows in development slated to bow after DEN relaunches May 15. DEN is unlikely to tap a replacement to fill Wandell’s post as the company is in the midst of restructuring its management staff and production efforts, a move that should help keep the company afloat. Wandell came to DEN last August from Disney’s Touchstone TV, where he was director of drama development. Wandell said he will take a break before joining another company. Although offers have been made, he has yet to decide whether he will join another dot-com or go back to the traditional television world. Either way, he plans to stay in television production. “I had an intense year at Disney last year and things have been just as intense at DEN,” Wandell said. “I need to take some time off and reflect. I felt I had made a lot of the contributions I had wanted to make. I had my chance to make my mark on DEN.” DEN was originally formed as a site to target specific groups of the Internet-savvy Gen-Y crowd with a slate of original shows ranging from scripted serials to in-your-face reality fare, such as “Frat Ratz,” “Redemption High” and “Aggronation.” Shows were said to have cost as much as $100,000 to produce six-minute episodes. Recent layoffs of over 100 staffers involved employees working on inhouse shows that were canceled from DEN’s lineup. At DEN, he was reunited with his former Disney TV boss, David Neuman, who signed on as prexy of DEN after serving as Disney’s prexy of network TV. “DEN is an amazing brand and a great company and I am grateful for having been part of the company,” Wandell said.